Olympia Eye Doctor Talks About Alternatives to Reading Glasses: Contact lenses for presbyopia

Published on
January 17, 2023

Presbyopia affects 83.0% to 88.9% of adults aged 45 years and older in the United States.

As we age, our eyes naturally lose the ability to focus on close objects, a condition known as presbyopia. If you're over 40 and experiencing blurry vision when reading or doing close work, reading glasses are not the only option. Contact lenses can be a great option to help correct your vision. In this blog, we'll go over the different contact lens options available for presbyopia and what you can expect during the fitting process.

What are the different contact lens options for presbyopia?

Reading glasses with your regular distance contact lens prescription

The simplest solution for presbyopia is to use contact lenses to correct your distance vision and then wear reading glasses over them when you need to focus on close objects. This option is easy to adapt to and doesn't require any special fitting. It's important to note that reading glasses are not the same as bifocals or progressive lenses, as they only correct near vision. This option is great if you're mostly looking at things that are farther away and occasionally need to read or use your phone.

Monovision contact lenses

Monovision is another option for presbyopia, where one eye (usually the dominant eye) is corrected for distance vision and the other for near vision. This requires some testing in the office to determine which eye is best suited for each type of lens. While monovision is generally well-tolerated, it can take some time to get used to, as your brain needs to adjust to your two eyes focusing on different things. This can lead to some changes in depth perception and require extra caution when driving or performing other activities that rely on this sense. Monovision may be a good option if you're equally engaged in tasks that require both near and far vision and you don't mind the trade-off of having one eye for distance and one for near. 

Bifocal or multifocals lenses

For patients who cannot adapt to monovision or prefer not to have one eye for distance and one for near, multifocal contact lenses may be the best option. These lenses have different prescriptions in different parts of the lens, allowing you to see both near and far. However, multifocal lenses require a higher degree of fitting and adjustment, and some patients may experience ghosting or shadowing when first using them. These lenses are ideal if you're mostly engaged in tasks that require both near and far vision and don't want to wear reading glasses.

Prescribing contact lenses for presbyopic patients

The choice of contact lens option for presbyopia patients will vary based on individual preferences and needs. At our Olympia optometry clinic, we typically begin with trying monovision and if that is not successful, we proceed to multifocal lenses. However, if the patient has specific needs or goals, we may start with multifocals from the start. 

Therefore, it is important to have a discussion with our optometrist to determine what will work best for you, and the fitting process may involve trying different lenses and making adjustments to the prescription for optimal results. There are options available for patients over 40 years old, it just takes more time and considerations for fitting and vision results.

If you don’t already have a trusted optometrist, you might begin your search online by entering “eye doctor for presbyopia near me”.

Schedule a comprehensive eye exam in Olympia

If you're experiencing blur when reading or doing close work, schedule an appointment with our optometrist to find out if contact lenses are a good option for you. There are a wide variety of options available to suit your needs. To schedule a comprehensive eye exam, please call (360) 491-2121. Patients searching for advanced treatment for presbyopia and alternatives to reading glasses visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of medical eye care services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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