Contact Lenses for Presbyopia
What is presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a normal change in the eye’s ability to focus from a distance to close up. The eye has a lens inside that focuses much like the lens in a camera. Early in life, the lens is flexible and can focus at any distance. At about age 40, many people notice that they cannot see things up close as well as they used to. This is because the lenses in their eyes lose some flexibility.
How is presbyopia corrected?
Often presbyopia is corrected with bifocal glasses, which have the distance prescription on the top and the reading prescription on the bottom. People who already wear contact lenses can wear their contacts for distance and a pair of reading glasses or half-glasses for seeing close objects.
However, if you do not want to wear glasses at all, you may be able to correct presbyopia with contacts.
How can contact lenses help correct presbyopia?
Monovision is one way to correct presbyopia with contact lenses. With monovision, you wear a contact lens with your distance prescription in one eye and a lens with your reading prescription in the other eye. If you are nearsighted (you can see objects that are close to your eyes but not objects at a distance), you may not even need a contact lens in the eye you use for reading.
Monovision takes time to get used to. You won’t be using your two eyes together, and you won’t have normal depth perception. Monovision does not work for everyone.
Bifocal contact lenses, which have both your reading and distance prescription in each lens, may correct your presbyopia. Bifocal contacts are available as gas permeable (“rigid”) and soft lenses and as both daily wear and extended wear lenses.
Even though bifocal contact lenses are convenient, they don’t work for everyone. Getting the right bifocal lenses may take some experimenting. Follow your eye doctor’s recommendations about which types of bifocal contacts to try, and allow a reasonable trial period before you decide if they will work for you.