Presbyopia Contact Lens Options
So I should probably start by defining presbyopia. Basically presbyopia is the natural loss of the eyes' ability to clearly focus near objects. If patients have excellent uncorrected distance vision, they will likely begin to experience the effects of presbyopia between 40-45 years of age. The first concerns we hear are typically the inability to read a menu and the fact that one's arms are no longer long enough to read.
The 3 main ways to correct for the effects of presbyopia are: 1. Single-vision reading glasses 2. Multifocal glasses (Bifocal and Progressives) and 3. Contact lenses. In this newsletter we will focus on option 3.
The first presbyopia contact lens option is something called monovision. Monovision basically means that one eye is focused for distance viewing, and the other eye is focused for near viewing. The brain will pay attention to the eye that is seeing better for the task that you are performing. If you are driving, the brain pays attention to the distance eye. If you are checking email on your iPhone, it will pay attention to the near eye. Previous non-contact lens wearers and current contact lens wearers are both candidates for monovision if near vision is a problem. Studies have shown that anywhere from 65-75% of patients that try monovision will ultimately be successful.
In some cases where a patient has excellent distance vision in one or both eyes, they can get away with only wearing 1 contact lens in monovision.
The next contact lens option for presbyopic patients is a multifocal contact lens. Each contact lens manufacturer has their own design for multifocal contact lenses which in some way or another resembles a dart board, or concentric ring design. Basically there are alternating distance and near zones as illustrated below:
Multifocal contact lenses are tricky, but when they work they have an advantage over monovision in that the eyes are working together at distance and near, just as they have done for the first 40+ years of your life. Initial success with multifocal contact lenses is in the 30-40% range, but after a few follow-ups and adjustments they can be just as successful as monovision.