Age related changes in the internal lens of the eye reduce the ability to focus the eyes close enough to read comfortably. This change, occurring usually in the 4th decade, is called presbyopia and is often the topic of impolite birthday cards and gag gifts. However, despite the inconvenient nature of this change in life style several options are available to allow us to read comfortably and conveniently without losing the benefits of contact lens wear.
Simple reading glasses, worn over the contacts will enable you to read clearly and comfortably with the closest-to-natural vision. The glasses, of course, will blur images at a distance, which is why many individuals choose to wear half-eye frames or use bifocals. While easy to accomplish, this approach requires that you don’t misplace your glasses.
Available with both rigid and soft contact lenses, this approach takes advantage of how the central vision of the two eyes overlaps. It corrects the dominant eye to see for distance and the fellow eye to see for reading. Approximately 70% of individuals find this approach comfortable and convenient and do not experience unacceptable blur, though extended reading comfort and night driving may be somewhat hampered. This technique often requires several office visits to achieve a comfortable balance between the distance and reading powers.
Bifocal contact lenses are available in rigid and soft contact lens designs. There are both segment lenses that have a line similar to eyeglass bifocals, and simultaneous vision bifocals that take advantage of the brain’s ability to see a clear image and ignore a blurred image. The advantage of bifocal lenses is that each eye sees both at distance and at near, providing the most normal binocular vision. However, in order to see both at distance and at near, one may lose a little of each to gain the other. These types of lenses are the most complicated to manufacture, to fit and for the patient to adapt to. They often require many office visits and lens changes.