If you are over 40 and have difficulty seeing close up, you probably have a common age-related condition called presbyopia which is when the eye’s natural lens loses the ability to focus on close objects. Presbyopia is a natural process as the eye ages and affects the majority of people from age 40 and upward. Individuals with presbyopia are often familiar with the need to hold reading materials such as newspapers an arm’s length away from their eyes in order to see clearly, yet reading glasses with bifocal or multifocal (progressive) lenses can help.
What are your options in contacts?
Distance Contacts with Reading Glasses
Multifocal contact lenses are uniquely designed to provide adequate vision at both distance and near. This is accomplished through prescription zones you look through at all times, so no worrying about looking through a specific part of the lens. They are treated as regular contact lenses (either dailies or monthlies) and should have no difference in wearing comfort. There are also newer options for patients who need astigmatism correction that previously had to be left out. Because the prescription zones are used at the same time, there can be some interference at some ranges; however, this is typically minimal and patients are usually able to quickly adjust.
Monovision is an alternative option for patients who do not adjust well to multifocals, or who do not have an appropriate prescription for the available lens options. This technique uses regular single vision contact lenses, but with one adjusted for your comfortable reading distance. In the exam room, the dominant eye would be determined to be used for far distance, while the non-dominant eye would become a reading eye. This provides the full prescription at both distances without any interference between them. Obviously, the potential drawback would be poor adjustment to the disparity between eyes as one will always seem blurry. While this may sound intimidating, many patients adjust very well and no longer recognize the eyes are different at all.
3. Reading glasses
If neither option above works well for you, contacts can still be used! Regular distance contact lenses can be easily worn with reading glasses over the top for any near work. This provides crisp, comfortable vision at all distances with the only drawback being the need for readers. This also allows many patients to stay in the same brand and prescription that they've been in for years. Prescription reading glasses can often be made for good vision at both computer and small print to allow ease of use for all needs.
Are Contact Lenses Right for You?
If you have presbyopia, contact lenses may be a great option for you. Many people prefer the look and convenience of contact lenses over traditional reading glasses. Speak to your eye doctor about the options available to you.