Many people question whether it is possible to wear contact lenses successfully after the age of forty. Typically, around age forty, the need for reading glasses begins or near objects become harder to see.
What is Presbyopia?
Presbyopia is the term used to refer to changes in vision that occur normally with age.
The biggest change that is noticed with age is that things must be held farther away in order to remain clear.
This along with blurry vision at near are the signs that accompany presbyopia.
Presbyopia occurs because the lens inside the eye becomes less flexible and is unable to flex to focus on near objects as well.
When Does Presbyopia Occur?
For most individuals, presbyopia will start around the age forty or in the early forties. This may not mean that they need reading glasses immediately but that they may begin to need them occasionally.
In general, almost everyone will experience presbyopia changes by the age of fifty.
For some, early changes may begin before the age of forty – as early as the mid-thirties.
Can Contact Lenses Correct Presbyopia?
In recent years, there have been many contact lenses developed to correct for presbyopia and the changes that are associated with it.
These contact lenses are generally classified as one of three categories based on how the contact lenses correct the distance and near powers when they are different.
The three categories of contact lenses for presbyopia are multifocal contact lenses, monovision contact lenses, and single vision contact lenses.
Each of these categories of contact lenses has specific benefits and instances in which it would be the best option.
Multifocal Contact Lenses
Multifocal contact lenses are contact lenses which are designed specifically for individuals who need reading glasses but want to be able to wear a single pair of contact lenses instead.
With multifocal contact lenses, vision can be made clear in the distance and up close with the same contact lenses.
These contact lenses are often the first option for anyone with presbyopia as they give great vision in both eyes at distance and up close.
The biggest issues with multifocal contact lenses are that the best vision may be slightly blurrier than in glasses with a bifocal and that not all glasses prescriptions have multifocal contact lens options.
Since multifocal contact lenses are designed to provide clear vision at a variety of distances, the crispness of the vision at any point may be slightly reduced compared to a pair of glasses.
Multifocal contact lenses are the newest method of correcting for presbyopia in contact lenses and not all prescriptions are available in multifocal contact lenses.
Particularly, astigmatism or high amounts of nearsightedness may not be able to be corrected with a multifocal contact lens.
Monovision contact lenses are fit to correct the dominant seeing eye to see clearly in the distance and the other eye to see clearly up close.
In most cases this will require a different prescription in each contact lens but can be a single vision contact lens.
Monovision is a great option for anyone whose activities require precise vision but do not require excellent depth perception as monovision will reduce the overall ability to perceive depth.
Single Vision Contact Lenses
Contact lenses that are single vision lenses are designed to only correct vision at one distance, either up close or far away.
These lenses are commonly used in individuals under forty, but they have use in individuals with presbyopia as well.
These lenses can be worn with reading glasses over them for near vision if the near vision requirements are not frequent or if wearing reading glasses is not an issue.