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How Do Multifocal Contact Lenses Work?

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Multifocal contact lenses contain 2 or more prescriptions to correct vision. If you find yourself squinting to read a book and struggling to focus on objects further away, multifocal contact lenses may be the solution you’ve been looking for. 

These advanced lenses have different lens powers that work by correcting multiple vision problems simultaneously, such as myopia (nearsightedness) and presbyopia, providing clear vision at various distances

What Are Multifocal Contact Lenses?

Unlike traditional contact lenses that correct only a single vision issue or refractive error, such as nearsightedness or farsightedness, multifocal lenses address a range of visual impairments. Some people can have more than one refractive error.

As you age, you can have a refractive error and develop presbyopia. Presbyopia is age-related farsightedness and typically affects people over 45, leading to a diminished ability to focus on close objects.

How Do Multifocal Lenses Work?

The functionality of multifocal contact lenses lies in their innovative design. These lenses incorporate multiple focus zones, each with a different refractive power. The various zones work together to provide clear vision at different distances, enabling wearers to see near and far objects without needing additional eyewear.

Multifocal Lens Designs

Multifocal contact lenses come in soft, rigid gas permeable (RGP) and silicone hydrogel materials. Soft lenses are generally more popular due to their flexibility and comfort. RGP lenses offer sharper vision and better durability. Multifocals also come in daily and extended wear.

During your contact lens exam, your eye doctor can help determine the most suitable lens material based on your specific needs and preferences. Multifocal lenses have 2 basic lens designs

Simultaneous Vision Designs

This lens design has specific regions designated for near and far viewing. The wearer determines which lens region to use that provides the sharpest vision. There are 2 types of simultaneous vision designs.

  1. Concentric Multifocal Contact Lenses

A common design for multifocal contact lenses is the concentric ring design with primary viewing in the center. This design features alternating zones for distance and near vision correction arranged in concentric circles on the lens. 

The central zone of the lens is usually dedicated to distance vision, while the outer zones cater to near vision. As a result, wearers can seamlessly transition their focus between objects at different distances.

  1. Aspheric Multifocal Contact Lenses

The aspheric design features a gradual change in refractive power across the surface of the lens. This design aims to mimic the natural changes in the eye’s lens when shifting focus between distant and near objects. 

The lens power changes from far to near from the center outwards. These lenses have no visible lines in the lens, giving wearers a more natural and comfortable visual experience.

Segmented Multifocal Designs

The segmented multifocal lens design is similar to bifocal and trifocal eyeglasses lenses. The top and center zones correct distant vision, and the lower zone corrects near vision, separated by a visible line. 

Segmented multifocal lenses are made from rigid gas-permeable material, keeping the lens in place even when you shift your gaze downwards. Trifocal lenses have a small ribbon-shaped segment for intermediate vision between the distant and near zones. 

Advantages of Multifocal Contact Lenses

Adjusting to multifocal contact lenses may take some time and patience. Initially, wearers may experience difficulty adapting to the varying zones of the lens. 

However, with consistent use, proper guidance, and a contact lens exam, your eye doctor can find the right contact lens for your unique eye dimensions and preferences. During an exam, they will measure your cornea (the transparent front layer of your eyes) and pupils, and consider factors such as dry eye before recommending a contact lens material and type. 

Once you receive a trial pair and it’s a fit, you can enjoy the benefits of multifocal lenses:

  • Correct astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and presbyopia 
  • High water content multifocal lenses can offer increased comfort for people with dry eyes 
  • Myopia correction while slowing myopia progression in children 
  • Acceptable vision for most daily activities 
  • No abrupt switches between prescriptions
  • No need for extra eyewear 

Multifocal lenses may not work for you like bifocal or progressive eyeglass lenses. However, they can provide an alternative to wearing glasses to correct vision at varying distances. Some people may still need single-vision lenses for driving at night or reading. 

A female optometrist examining the eyes of a young man using a medical device to detect potential eye problems

Vision Correction in One Lens

Multifocal contact lenses are a remarkable innovation allowing individuals to address multiple vision issues simultaneously. By incorporating various optical zones, these lenses provide wearers with clear vision at different distances, making them an excellent choice for people with presbyopia or other vision impairments. 

If you’re tired of juggling multiple pairs of glasses or struggling with vision, book an appointment with Perspectives Vision Clinic to explore multifocal contact lenses and experience the freedom of clear vision at any distance.


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  • Written by Dr. Marcie Nichols

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