Contact Lens Options for 40+
Kari M. Jones, O.D.
Primary Eye Care and Contact Lens
Presbyopia is the decrease in near vision that everyone experiences around the age of forty. We often have patients that do not want to wear reading glasses, especially if they do not wear glasses for their distance vision, and they are interested in the possibility of contact lenses.
Contact lenses are most definitely an option for vision correction in people over the age of forty, even if you have never worn contacts before. There are three main contact lens options for people who need help with their vision at both distance and near. The simplest option is to keep both eyes at a distance power and to use over-the-counter reading glasses over the contacts as needed for near work. This is most applicable to people who are already wearing contacts for distance vision and just need a little help up close.
Another option is a technique called monovision. With monovision we correct one eye to see at distance and one eye to see at near. It sounds a little bit crazy, but the brain works it out. A nice part of monovision is that we can use any brand of contact lenses that are available, all we do is change the lens powers. The most common complaint of monovision is that is can result in a decrease in depth perception as the eyes are not working together, and it can have a bit of an adaptation period.
A third option is multi-focal contacts, which work kind of like a no-line bifocal. Multi-focal contacts are available primarily in daily or monthly change schedules, and are available with correction for astigmatism. Some people find that while multi-focal contacts provide a good range of vision, their vision is not as sharp or crisp as it is with glasses. Depending upon the visual requirements of the person we are working with, sometimes we do a combination of lenses to achieve clear, comfortable vision. All of the above options are also available in rigid gas permeable (RGP, or hard) contact lenses.