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Contact Lenses for Presbyopia: What Are Your Options?

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A senior woman squinting and holding a newspaper at arm's length because of vision challenges caused by presbyopia.

As we age, our vision naturally undergoes many changes that can lead to difficulty seeing the world around us. One of the most common changes is a condition called presbyopia—an age-related gradual loss of vision that can make it difficult to see nearby objects clearly. 

Fortunately, there are treatment options available, like the use of specialty multifocal contact lenses. These lenses use special features that can address the symptoms of presbyopia, such as different focal zones for vision at different distances. Typically, there are 3 types of contacts recommended for presbyopia depending on your visual needs: multifocal, bifocal, and monovision lenses. 

Following a diagnosis for presbyopia, an optometrist can perform a contact lens fitting to determine which lens may be appropriate for your needs. Working closely with them can help determine a treatment plan that may minimize the effect of presbyopia on your life. 

What Is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is an age-related condition that affects the eye’s ability to focus on nearby objects. This condition typically begins around the age of 45 and is considered to be progressive—meaning that it becomes worse over time. 

The causes of presbyopia relate to changes in your eyes’ lenses as they gradually become less flexible with time, making it more challenging to naturally adapt and adjust their shape to focus on nearby objects. Those changes may lead to several difficulties and complications, including:

  • Blurry vision
  • Eye strain
  • Difficulty reading small print, text, or focusing on smaller objects
  • The need to hold objects further away from the face to see clearly

Presbyopia can also cause difficulty seeing clearly in dim lighting, leading to a need for more light when trying to read or focus on nearby objects. 

A close-up of the right side of a woman's face as she uses her index finger to place a contact lens on her eye.

How Is Presbyopia Treated?

Fortunately, presbyopia can be effectively diagnosed by an optometrist during a comprehensive eye exam. Following a diagnosis, we can help determine an appropriate course of treatment to minimize its effect on your life. 

Treatment options for presbyopia often involve the use of corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses to compensate for the loss of near vision.

Contact lenses are a popular choice for correcting presbyopia, as they offer an alternative to glasses for addressing the symptoms this condition causes. Typically, there are 3 types of lenses an optometrist may recommend:

  • Monovision contacts
  • Bifocal contacts
  • Multifocal contacts

Each of these lenses provides its own unique benefits. It’s essential to visit an optometrist so they can perform a comprehensive eye exam and determine which lens may be appropriate for your specific needs.

Monovision Contact Lenses

Monovision contact lenses are one option for correcting presbyopia. This approach involves wearing a contact lens in one eye to provide clear vision at a distance while the other eye uses a lens to correct nearby vision.

These lenses rely on the brain’s ability to adapt over time to the different focusing distances of each eye to allow you to see clearly. However, this approach may not be suitable for everyone, as some people may find it difficult to adjust to the different clarity provided by each eye.

Bifocal Contact Lenses

Bifocal contacts can offer a combined strategy to help provide clear vision for those with presbyopia. Similar to bifocal eyeglasses, these lenses have 2 separate areas for near and far vision. These 2 zones can help you see clearly at both distances without the need to switch between different contacts or eyeglasses.

However, some people may find a visible line where the zones cross. This can be an inconvenience for some people looking to correct their presbyopia—though this line isn’t noticed by everybody who tries bifocals.

Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses can offer an alternative solution to bifocals when it comes to treating presbyopia. These lenses have multiple zones or rings that help you see clearly at different distances. Unlike bifocals, these zones have a smooth transition between them, allowing for clear vision without noticeable lines.

These lenses also often come in 2 types:

  • Rigid gas-permeable lenses
  • Soft lenses

This makes them adaptable to a person’s specific needs. It’s important to visit an optometrist to determine which lens may be more appropriate for you, as different people may find different materials more comfortable than others. 

Treating Your Presbyopia

If you believe you have presbyopia and are considering contact lenses to treat the condition, your first step should be to visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam. We can perform a thorough examination of your eyes to determine what may be causing your vision problems, then perform a contact lens fitting to determine which option for contacts meets your needs.

Schedule an appointment with us at Pinnacle Eyecare today to speak with our caring and experienced team about your options for addressing presbyopia with contact lenses.

Written by Dr. Nicholas King-Smith

Dr. Nicholas King-Smith was born and raised in Wooster, Ohio. He is a Northeast Ohio native and by default a sad (but proud) Browns fan. Dr. King-Smith obtained his Bachelor of Science from Xavier University in May 2010. He received his optometric degree at the Ohio State University College of Optometry in May 2014.

Dr. King-Smith has been practicing in and around the Columbus area for the last 6 years.

Pinnacle Eyecare opened in the fall of 2020 and now serves the Columbus community with quality eye care and optometric services. Dr. King-Smith envisioned a practice with a unique, modern environment, where all the latest frames and comprehensive eye care would be available in one setting.

During his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, son, and their Bernese Mountain Dog. He loves traveling with his family, skiing, hiking, and cheering on the Ohio State Buckeyes.

He is a member of the Ohio Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, and the Epsilon Psi Epsilon professional fraternity.

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