Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses

What are Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses?

Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses are designed to correct vision at all distances for people suffering from vision issues and presbyopia (age-related decline in near vision).

What are the Differences Between Bifocal and Multifocal Lenses?

Bifocal contact lenses have two separate prescriptions within the same lens, while multifocal contact lenses have a range of prescription powers in each lens (similar to that of progressive eyeglasses.)

“Multifocal contacts” is also often used as a catch-all term for all types of contact lenses with more than one prescription power, including bifocal lenses.

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How Do Bifocal and Multifocal Contacts Function?

Unlike simpler contact lenses that use a single prescription strength to correct a single problem (such as near vision difficulty), bifocal and multifocal contact lenses can correct multiple issues with a single pair of lenses. There are two primary types of multifocal lenses:

Segmented: This design functions like bifocal and trifocal eyeglass lenses. The central and upper portions of the lens have the correct power for distance viewing, while the lower portion is geared toward viewing near objects. Depending on whether the wearer is focusing on a near or far object, the eye will look through the correct segment. (Segmented trifocal designs, which also have a portion dedicated to intermediate vision, are also available.)

These contact lenses are always rigid gas permeable lenses, and function properly because unlike soft lenses, which move with the eyes, these are designed to stay in a set position over the eye, which moves behind it.

Simultaneous Vision: This lens design has specific regions on the lens designated for near and far (and sometimes also intermediate) vision. Depending on the distance of the object being viewed, the wearer’s eye will use the region of the lens that gives the sharpest vision. Within this category there are two types of designs; concentric and aspheric.

Concentric Multifocal Contacts

Falling under the broader category of simultaneous vision lenses, concentric multifocal contact lenses generally have the lens power for distant vision in the center of the lens, which is surrounded by concentric rings of both near and distance powers according to the wearer’s prescription. Most of the time, at least two of these rings are within the area of the pupil in normal lighting. (This can vary as the pupil dilates and constricts based on the lighting around the wearer.

Concentric multifocal contact lenses can be made of either rigid gas permeable or soft lens material, and the locations of the different powers will vary based on this. In gas permeable lenses, the distance power tends to be in the center (center-distant), while soft lenses more often have the near power in the center (center-near). 

Additionally, another option is to have a lens with a center-distance design for the dominant eye and a center-near configuration for the non-dominant eye.

Consult our eye care professional to determine which option is best for you.

Concentric Multifocal Contacts
Aspheric Multifocal Contact Lenses

Aspheric Multifocal Contact Lenses

Aspheric multifocal contacts, also a type of simultaneous vision lens, are similar in design to progressive eyeglass lenses, meaning that there is a gradual change in power from far to near, with no hard divide between sections. There are also no visible lines in these lenses, which can be more aesthetically pleasing for some.

Due to the progressive lens design, however, these can take some time to adjust to.

Materials

Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses can be made both of soft and rigid gas permeable material. Rigid lenses can be more effective in some respects, but can be more challenging to maintain and less comfortable to wear than soft lenses.

Hybrid contact lenses are also available. These have a rigid lens portion in the center, with a flexible skirt going out around it. This provides the vision benefits of a rigid lens with the comfort of a soft one. However, these can be more difficult to maintain and put on.

Aspheric Multifocal Contact Lenses

Are Multifocal Contact Lenses Ideal for Me?

For most people, multifocal contact lenses work very well. However, limitations do exist. For example, distance vision might not be perfectly clear, or small print might be hard to read.

For some, other options like monovision contact lenses might be a better choice.

Your eye care professional will be able to advise you on what options are best for your personal needs after completing your eye exam.

Common Questions

There are a few different ones so I'll hit off on the most commonly used. The flat tops are the most commonly used. They have a straight hard line that separates the distance from the reading portion. Flat top 28 - Bifocal width will be 28mm Flat top 35 - Bifocal width will be 35mm. There are also rounded bifocal - The bifocal is round instead of the traditional half circle. There is another style called blended bifocal which is less noticeable because it does not stand out as the lined bifocal by eliminating the hard line and introducing a softer, smoother and rounded edge to the reading section.Then we have executive style which is essentially a flat top but with altered measurements that make the reading portion the entirety of the Rx below the line and distance Rx above it. Lastly we have Double D - Theses lenses have a bifocal on top of the lens and on the bottom
Trivex lenses a certain material that lenses are made of. Lens material is usually broken into a few categories such as: CR-39, Polycarbonate, Trivex, and Hi-Index. Each one has it's perks and cons. Trivex is a highly rated impact resistant, lightweight and UV protected lens. It also has a higher abbe value compared to polycarbonate meaning the light moves through the lens a little cleaner making the vision more crisp and clear.
Yes. Over the years there have been many advancements in contact lens technology, so if you’re a patient who has astigmatism and also wears bifocals there are contact lens options available for you. These specific lenses are called “toric multifocal” contact lenses. As of right now these lenses only come in a monthly modality. Be sure to visit your eye doctor to get a proper contact lens evaluation and determine which lens provides the best vision and fit.
Progressive lenses are similar to bifocals in having more than one prescription in them. However, whereas bifocals have two distinct and clearly separated areas of vision, progressives have a little more to them. In a progressive lens there are no hard, or curved lines, that visibly separate zones of vision. The lens is constructed in a way to gradually shift between distance, intermediate and reading zones in a comfortable and almost invisible progression.
Bifocal glasses are a lens style that has two prescriptions in it. The prescriptions are typically one for distance and one for reading. Lenses with these two distinct zones are generally called bifocals.
Progressive lenses are a touch tricky to explain but let's just review the basics. We can think if a progressive lens as a trifocal, a lens with three different prescriptions, without a line. It's composed of a distance zone, intermediate or computer/office zone, and a reading zone. In-between these three zones are a steady gradation of increasing or decreasing powers, relative to direction, which aid in viewing from distance to near. As the eye "progresses" up and down the lens these little quarter steps between focal points keeps everything clear and in order for us.
Aspheric lenses are generally used in high prescription cases. It can be used in both high plus and high minus lenses but the thinning effect is most noticeable for people with a high plus prescription. In aspheric lenses the curvature of the lens is changed which makes the lens thinner and also reduces or eliminates lens distortion or aberration. What this means is that the Rx is more likely to be clear across the breadth of the lens. In summation, a thinner and clearer lens is what an aspheric lens is.
Yes, you can use progressive lenses with smaller frames. Generally speaking, as long as there's about 25-30mm of vertical lens space then a progressive design should work.
There are two types of progressive or PAL lenses. Conventional PALs use the same template or design for every lens and every patient. This can lend itself to distortion or other visual issues for some wearers. Digital progressive lenses are tailor made using software to construct a progressive thats unique to every wearer. They do this by utilizing measurements specific to each wearer. This reduces or eliminates distortion, non-adapts, improves comfortability and clarity. All in all, digital progressive lenses are a good route to take when looking to manage presbyopia.
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