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Home » Eyeglasses & Contacts » Contact Lenses » Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses

Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses

If you are over 40 and have difficulty seeing close up, you probably have a common age-related condition called presbyopia which is when the eye’s natural lens loses the ability to focus on close objects. Presbyopia is a natural process as the eye ages and affects the majority of people from age 40 and upward. Individuals with presbyopia are often familiar with the need to hold reading materials such as newspapers an arm’s length away from their eyes in order to see clearly, yet reading glasses with bifocal or multifocal (progressive) lenses can help.

Fortunately for those who don’t like the look, feel or inconvenience of reading glasses, there is another option. Bifocal and multifocal lenses are also available in contact lenses in both soft and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) varieties.

Multifocal contact lenses give you added freedom over glasses and they allow you to be able to view any direction – up, down and to the sides – with similar vision. People wearing progressive lenses in glasses on the other hand have to look over their glasses if they want to view upwards or into the distance.

The Difference Between Bifocal and Multifocal Lenses

Just as the name indicates, bifocal lenses are divided into two distinct segments for different vision powers, the first for distance vision and the second for near vision. This enables you to clearly switch your focus from near to far as needed, but your vision will not necessarily be clear in between. The term multifocal lenses can refer to any lenses with multiple powers including bifocals, trifocals or progressive lenses. Non-bifocal multifocal lenses have a range of powers that enable you to constantly adjust your focus to see clearly from up close to far and in between.

Multifocal contact lenses are generally designed in one of two ways, as either simultaneous vision lenses or alternating vision lenses.

Simultaneous vision lenses

The most popular version of multifocal contact lenses, simultaneous vision lenses present the distance and near vision zones of the lens at the same time. Typically after a short adjustment period your eyes learn to utilize the segment of the lens that they need to focus on the desired object and essentially ignore the other.

They come in two designs:

  • Concentric ring design: In the most basic form these are bifocal lenses that are comprised of a central circular area of one power with a ring around of the alternate power, similar to a bulls-eye. In this design the power of the rings (either near or distance vision is interchangeable). For intermediate viewing (18-24 inches away) extra rings can be added to create a trifocal or multifocal lens. The width of each ring is variable depending on the power that is needed most and the edges of the rings can be blended for a smooth transition of focus, similar to progressive eyeglass lenses.
  • Aspheric design: These multifocal lenses attempt to provide a natural vision experience by blending many lens powers across the surface and center of the lens. In this design both distance and near vision power are located in the central visual area and your eyes will adapt to focus on the area needed to view what you are looking at.

Translating or Alternating Vision lenses

Similar to bifocal eyeglass lenses, these contacts are divided into distinct areas or zones and your pupil will move to the desired zone depending on your vision needs. Typically the top of the lens, which is what you look through when looking straight ahead is for distance vision and the bottom area (what you look through when you look down) is for near vision. However, this can be reversed according to unique vision needs.

Since contact lenses sometimes move within your eye, translating lenses are held in place by a ballast which is an area that is thicker than the rest of the lens or by truncating or flattening the bottom to stay in line by the lower lid. These lenses are only available in rigid gas permeable lens material.

An Alternative Option to Multifocal Contact Lenses: Monovision

Monovision is another contact lens alternative for presbyopia particularly if you are having difficulty adapting to multifocal lenses. Monovision splits your distance and near vision between your eyes, using your dominant eye for distance vision and your non-dominant eye for near vision.

Typically you will use single vision lenses in each eye however sometimes the dominant eye will use a single vision lens while a multifocal lens will be used in the other eye for intermediate and near vision. This is called modified monovision. Your eye doctor will perform a test to determine which type of lens is best suited for each eye and optimal vision.

Are Contact Lenses Right for You?

If you have presbyopia, contact lenses may be a great option for you. Many people prefer the look and convenience of contact lenses over traditional reading glasses. Speak to your eye doctor about the options available to you.

Dear Valued Patient:

We plan to re-open on May 20, 2020 to a limited schedule by appointment only—please set appointment online or call or email first.

We look forward to see you again soon!  We place the highest priority on the health and safety of our patients and our eye care staff.  Please read below:

Please read the following carefully to prepare for your visit to our office. We are implementing many new and more stringent procedures to ensure the health and safety of our patients and eye care personnel based on guidelines from the Alameda County Health Department and the CDC to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. During this time we are requiring the following for every patient and in-office encounter:

+We are starting with a limited schedule of appointments for better social distancing and for the safety of our patients (thank you in advance for your patience and understanding).

+All visits are by appointment only, there are no walk-in visits available

+All patients are required to wear their own personal mask before entering the office

+All patients are required to check in over the phone before their appointment

+Insurance coverage verifications must be taken care of before entering office for appointment

+Patient will wait outside in car until notified by text or email when they can come in for their appointment, upon entering, patient’s temperature will be taken and their hands sanitized with alcohol cleaner

+There will be no waiting area in the office, patient will be seen right away-please be on time

+Family or caregivers will need to wait outside in the car, as we will only allow patient to enter office.  Verbal consent for minors is acceptable. Updates will be given family or caregiver over the phone as needed.

+All glasses, contact lens orders will be by curb side pick up only—please call or email and we can help you set up a time to pick up your eye wear safely, maintaining social distancing

Our doctors and staff will increase our cleaning and sanitizing protocols:

+We have the latest HEPA air filters with UVC light disinfection to destroy bacteria and viruses

+Wearing protective face shields and surgical masks and medical grade disposable gloves

+All exam equipment and every surface is sanitized fully with hospital grade sanitizer after each patient encounter

+We have a new safe system of disinfection for all frames which have been touched or tried

+We screen all patients by phone to assure they have been healthy prior to their appointment

+All staff and doctors have passed additional training in more stringent sanitizing protocol

Thank you for your patience and compliance to these new and required guidelines. Our goal is to take care of your eye care needs while keeping you and your family healthy. We also want to help our community overcome this pandemic.

We will get through this together.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need more immediate assistance. 

You can set up a future appointment online at EyeCareDrLee.com or send an email to EyeCareDrLee@gmail.com or DrLeongOK@gmail.com  or call 510-668-0877

Please stay safe and stay healthy.

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Stay up to date on our COVID-19 pandamic protocols Read Our Blog Post…

Our office continues to monitor the local health announcements on a daily basis. Optometry is an essential service and we will open to new health guidelines to help our patients while keeping everyone healthy. Please read our blog updates for our open date and new safety guidelines. Let us know if you have any questions or immediate eye care needs. Need contact lenses? Let us know, as we can send orders to you with free shipping.
We are responding faster to direct email:

eyecareDrLee@gmail.com

drLeongOK@gmail.com (for ortho-k)

Thank you, stay safe and stay healthy.

COVID-19 guidelines from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention-H.pdf