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Home » Contact Lenses » Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses

Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses

Modern Confident Woman GlassesIf 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.

Fortunately for those who don’t like the look, feel or inconvenience of reading glasses, there is another option. Bifocal and multifocal lenses are also available in contact lenses in both soft and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) varieties.

Multifocal contact lenses give you added freedom over glasses and they allow you to be able to view any direction – up, down and to the sides – with similar vision. People wearing progressive lenses in glasses on the other hand have to look over their glasses if they want to view upwards or into the distance.

The Difference Between Bifocal and Multifocal Lenses

Just as the name indicates, bifocal lenses are divided into two distinct segments for different vision powers, the first for distance vision and the second for near vision. This enables you to clearly switch your focus from near to far as needed, but your vision will not necessarily be clear in between. The term multifocal lenses can refer to any lenses with multiple powers including bifocals, trifocals or progressive lenses. Non-bifocal multifocal lenses have a range of powers that enable you to constantly adjust your focus to see clearly from up close to far and in between.

Multifocal contact lenses are generally designed in one of two ways, as either simultaneous vision lenses or alternating vision lenses.

Simultaneous vision lenses

The most popular version of multifocal contact lenses, simultaneous vision lenses present the distance and near vision zones of the lens at the same time. Typically after a short adjustment period your eyes learn to utilize the segment of the lens that they need to focus on the desired object and essentially ignore the other.

They come in two designs:

  • Concentric ring design: In the most basic form these are bifocal lenses that are comprised of a central circular area of one power with a ring around of the alternate power, similar to a bulls-eye. In this design the power of the rings (either near or distance vision is interchangeable). For intermediate viewing (18-24 inches away) extra rings can be added to create a trifocal or multifocal lens. The width of each ring is variable depending on the power that is needed most and the edges of the rings can be blended for a smooth transition of focus, similar to progressive eyeglass lenses.
  • Aspheric design: These multifocal lenses attempt to provide a natural vision experience by blending many lens powers across the surface and center of the lens. In this design both distance and near vision power are located in the central visual area and your eyes will adapt to focus on the area needed to view what you are looking at.

Translating or Alternating Vision lenses

Similar to bifocal eyeglass lenses, these contacts are divided into distinct areas or zones and your pupil will move to the desired zone depending on your vision needs. Typically the top of the lens, which is what you look through when looking straight ahead is for distance vision and the bottom area (what you look through when you look down) is for near vision. However, this can be reversed according to unique vision needs.

Since contact lenses sometimes move within your eye, translating lenses are held in place by a ballast which is an area that is thicker than the rest of the lens or by truncating or flattening the bottom to stay in line by the lower lid. These lenses are only available in rigid gas permeable lens material.

An Alternative Option to Multifocal Contact Lenses: Monovision

Monovision is another contact lens alternative for presbyopia particularly if you are having difficulty adapting to multifocal lenses. Monovision splits your distance and near vision between your eyes, using your dominant eye for distance vision and your non-dominant eye for near vision.

Typically you will use single vision lenses in each eye however sometimes the dominant eye will use a single vision lens while a multifocal lens will be used in the other eye for intermediate and near vision. This is called modified monovision. Your eye doctor will perform a test to determine which type of lens is best suited for each eye and optimal vision.

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.

Dear valued patient,

We take our commitment to keeping our patients and team safe and healthy inthe midst of this COVID-19 pandemic very seriously. We want to share our plan to comply with social distancing guidelines for your upcoming appointment. Please carefully read the steps below and follow our direction when you arrive. Our team will all be wearing masks and we ask that you bring one with you to wear during your visit (for everyone’s safety, we are requiring staff and patients to wear masks).

We ask patients to complete necessary paperwork online if possible. Click here to access the forms. You may also choose to text a photo of your insurance card and photo ID to the clinic at 763-537-3213.

When you arrive for your appointment, enter the main doors and wait in the front alcove until a staff member greets you. Our front desk team will ask you general health questions to rule out the presence of COVID-19 symptoms.

We are asking that only the patient enter the building for the exam. (Exceptions: Children under 18 may be accompanied by one guardian, and adults with special needs may be accompanied by one caretaker.)

When you enter the building:

Staff will ask you to use hand sanitizer and then you will complete any necessary paperwork that you were not able to complete online, and we will make copies of your insurance card and photo ID if you did not text a picture of them to us.

Prior to seeing your doctor, a technician will escort you to a pre-testing room where you will be asked to wash your hands. We ask that you follow the CDC’s recommendation of washing your hands thoroughly, for a full 20seconds, with soap and water.

Rest assured that every surface and every piece of equipment you come into contact with has been sanitized prior to the arrival of each and every patient entering our practice, and it will be cleaned again as you exit each area.

The team will be frequently washing their hands between interactions as per our usual protocol, and you’ll also see hand sanitizer throughout the practice for your use, as well.

Optical – Shopping for Glasses, Adjustments and Repairs, and Glasses Pick-up

We are scheduling appointments for all optical needs. Please call the clinic at 763-537-3213 to schedule your appointment.

When you are shopping for glasses, one of our ABO certified opticians will ask you to be seated at a station where you will discuss your needs, likes and dislikes. To ensure social distancing, the optician will bring frames to you so you can try them on at the station. The optician will continue to bring frames to you until you find the perfect pair!

We sterilize every frame a patient touches in a UV Cleaning Unit after a shopping appointment so you can be assured any frame you try on has been sanitized prior to your visit.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us. We look forward to seeing you!

Thank you for your patience and cooperation,

Your Crystal Vision Clinic Eye Care Team

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We sterilize every frame a patient touches in a UV Cleaning Unit after each shopping appointment so you can be assured any frame you try on has been sanitized prior to your visit.