Can Contact Lenses Replace Reading Glasses?

Around the age of 40, many people who could previously see well without glasses, or who only wore glasses for distance vision, start to notice that their ability to see nearby objects clearly starts to deteriorate. This is completely normal and known as presbyopia.



What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia occurs when the crystalline lens inside your eye experiences cellular changes that make it less flexible. As a result, it makes it harder for the lens to adjust itself so that you can focus on nearby objects. You may find yourself holding books or cell phones further away, or needing to squint at them, so you can see them.



The first line of treatment for presbyopia is usually glasses with prescription lenses. Your eye doctor can perform visual acuity testing that will determine which prescription you will need to help you to see clearly. You can opt for single vision lenses (which will need to be taken off/put on as needed), or multifocal lenses, which contain multiple prescriptions for vision at difference distances.



Although reading glasses are extremely effective at helping people who require reading glasses to see more easily, many people who wear them do become frustrated by the limitations of wearing glasses. There are a number of reasons why people dislike wearing glasses:


  • They struggle to find a style/color that they feel suits them

  • They dislike having to remember to take their glasses everywhere they go in case they need to read something

  • Glasses can be fragile and easily broken

  • They can also be misplaced/lost

  • Glasses frames can be expensive depending on the type that you choose



Contact Lenses for Presbyopia

Initially, the only way to compensate for presbyopia with contact lenses alone was to use a treatment technique called monovision. People who wear monovision contact lenses wear two different contact lenses – one of these is a prescription for near vision, the other is for distance vision. However, this takes a lot of getting used to for the wearer and is clearly not an optimal way to correct patient vision.




Fortunately, multifocal vision technology has now been incorporated into contact lenses too, meaning that patients can enjoy the same benefits of multifocal glasses lenses in a pair of contacts. Just like in glasses lenses, multifocal contacts contain a range of powers, from near to distance, that enable you to see close up, far away and all distances in between. However, unlike progressive glasses, multifocal contacts don’t require you to tilt your head to find the correct spot in the lens for seeing at different distances. Instead, the power of the lens gradually changes from near to distance in order to provide natural, clear vision at all distances.



There are various different types of multifocal contact lenses made from a range of materials, from standard soft lenses to those made from rigid gas permeable designs. Hybrid lenses combine the two. Your eye doctor will be able to recommend the type of multifocal contact lens that will best suit your needs.



For more information about how contact lenses can replace reading glasses, or to schedule an appointment to discuss your vision, please call Miller Vision Center at (405) 389-4200 to reach our office in Norman Oklahoma.

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