Multifocal contact lenses are contact lenses with multiple prescriptions in one lens, designed to allow different lens powers targeting vision at varying distances for wearers.
They are made for wearers with presbyopia and help them to easily switch between seeing close-up, in-between, and distant objects.
Multifocal contact lenses are available from different brands, and with various designs and features available. This means that your optician will be able to suggest an option that is as closely tailored to your specific needs as possible.
For example, some multifocal lenses specify additional dominance (as D or N) in their prescription, while others classify as LOW, MED and HIGH. Because of these distinctions, your prescription may vary depending on the brand, but this means that you will be able to use an option suited to you. This is a real benefit, as, even though presbyopia is a common issue, it is not always exactly the same from person to person.
Speaking to your optician and trialling different options is the best way to ensure that you get the best solution.
Presbyopia is an eye condition, developing from the age of 40, that decreases a person’s ability to focus clearly on close objects. It occurs as a result of the lens in the eye losing its elasticity, making it more difficult to accommodate from distant to near objects.
How Do Multifocal Contact Lenses Correct Presbyopia?
Multifocal contact lenses correct presbyopia by offering two or more prescription powers, designed to simultaneously correct a combination of weaknesses in your eye.
There are two main multifocal contact lens designs. The most common is a set of concentric circles, with lens power prescribed for different viewing distances. Blended design, on the other hand, keeps near and distance prescriptions close to the centre of eye, and copies a natural viewing experience, referred to as centre-near viewing.
Simultaneous Vision Designs
Simultaneous vision designs are lens designs that utilise multiple zones, designated for far, near, or intermediate vision. These zones enable wearers to transition between distances, depending on which part of the lens is most suitable at the time.
The key concept behind multifocal contact lenses is based around pupil size and reaction; for example, when observing an item at short-distance, your pupil will tend to constrict. At a longer distance, they tend to dilate. Manufacturers utilise this concept in various ways to manufacture multifocal contact lenses.
There are two types of simultaneous vision designs: concentric and aspheric.
Concentric multifocal contact lenses have a primary viewing zone in the centre of the lens, with distinct rings of near and distant powers around the centre. Each zone is used for viewing objects at different distances.
Aspheric multifocal contact lenses are similar to concentric, however instead of distinct rings around the centre, the lens power gradually changes from distance to near, from the centre to the edge of the lens.
Segmented Multifocal Designs
Segmented multifocal contact lenses differ from simultaneous zone designs, with a top-to-bottom design, rather than a centric design - segmented multifocal designs can be found in multifocal gas permeable lenses.
Benefits of Multifocal Contact Lenses
Multifocal contact lenses provide various benefits:
Provide improved peripheral vision compared to glasses
Eliminate the need for tilting the head as with glasses
Offer vision correction for wearers who don’t want to wear glasses
Easily transition between vision over all distances
Reduced need to switch between different lenses or glasses
Good for sporting activities that require multiple vision zones
Types of Multifocal Contact Lenses
Daily Multifocal Lenses
Daily multifocal contact lenses are single use options, meaning that they should be removed after a single day of use, and replaced with a new pair the next day.
1 Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal - 1 Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal are daily disposable lenses designed for wearers with presbyopia. They combine several prescriptions to correct presbyopia and deliver clear vision at any viewing distance. These lenses include a unique back-curve design, keeping them central on your eye to maintain clear vision across distances.
Acuvue Oasys for Presbyopia - These bi-weekly contact lenses provide optimum comfort and balanced vision over varied distances. The material used offers excellent wettability, thanks to Hydraclear Plus technology. Acuvue Oasys for Presbyopia can also be used as extended wear for up to 6 nights when approved by your optician - if used in this way, they can only be used for a week before being replaced.
Air Optix Aqua Multifocal - Air Optix Aqua Multifocal are monthly use lenses made with silicone hydrogel, that increases the flow of oxygen to the eyes to maintain health and hydration. These lenses are ideal for presbyopic wearers, and ensure clear and sharp near, far, or intermediate vision. Air Optix Aqua Multifocal lenses also include SmartShield Technology, that resists deposits for a more comfortable experience. These lenses can also be worn as extended wear for up to 6 nights, if approved by your optician.
Multifocals for Astigmatism
Multifocal contact lenses are available from some manufacturers in ranges that treat astigmatism too, meaning that wearers with multiple prescriptions can be covered by a single lens choice.
Proclear Multifocal Toric - Proclear Multifocal Toric is a monthly contact lens designed for wearers with presbyopic and astigmatic prescriptions. Thanks to the high water content and Phosphoryl Choline (PC) Technology, they lock water molecules into the lens to keep your eyes feeling fresh and moisturised, as well as allowing adequate oxygen flow to your eyes for comfort throughout the day. Proclear Multifocal Toric contact lenses also use Balanced Progressive Technology which allows the lens to have multiple zones for clear vision at short, middle, and longer distances, for both astigmatism and presbyopia.
Best Selling Multifocal Contact Lenses
Lenstore offers a wide choice of multifocal contact lenses. Our best-sellers are:
1 Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal daily-use contact lenses are ideal for presbyopic wearers. Making use of a unique back-curve design, these lenses maintain clear vision across distances while maintaining comfort and eye health.
Clariti 1 Day Multifocal is a daily contact lens from CooperVision. Using WetLoc technology, which creates a layer of moisture that ensures optimum eye wettability all day long, and Somofilcon A material that helps to keep your eyes healthy, white and well oxygenated.
Dailies AquaComfort Plus Multifocal is a daily-use lens for wearers with presbyopia. Using blink-activated technology and a blend of moisturising agents, these lenses ensure that your eyes are hydrated all day, maintaining comfort and reducing irritability.
Air Optix Aqua Multifocal are monthly lenses made for wearers with presbyopia. Made with silicone hydrogel to increase the flow of oxygen, these lenses maintain health and comfort throughout wear. Air Optix Aqua Multifocal contact lenses also make use of SmartShield Technology, which resists deposit and reduces irritation.
Biofinity Multifocal allow the optimal level of oxygen to reach the eyes, maintaining comfort and health. Biofinity Multifocal lenses also use Aquaform Technology, which helps your contacts to retain water throughout the day to reduce dehydration. These are monthly lenses, made for presbyopic wearers.
Dailies Total 1 Multifocal are daily contact lenses for those with presbyopic prescriptions. A combination of SmarTears and water gradient technology create exceptional hydration, while the lens also offers excellent breathability to promote comfort.
Biotrue ONEday for Presbyopia contains 78% water to ensure that eyes stay refreshed, these lenses also contain a UV filter, which blocks harmful sun rays. These multifocal contact lenses from Bausch & Lomb are daily-use, meaning that they can be worn for one day before being disposed of and replaced.
Clariti Monthly Multifocal contact lenses feature an aspheric back surface and centre near design, these lenses provide a comfortable and secure fit. Clariti Monthly Multifocal contact lenses also benefit from AquaGen technology, combined with a high water content, which offers optimal hydration for an enhanced lens-wearing experience.
Acuvue Oasys for Presbyopia is a two-weekly multifocal lens. Using Hydraclear Plus technology that helps to provide long-lasting comfort, as well as a UV filter to help provide protection from the sun, these are a great option.
Purevision Multi-Focal is a contact lens made with silicone hydrogel material that helps to keep the surface of your eyes free from debris, thanks to its AerGel technology, and comfortable. As a monthly-use lens, Purevision Multi-Focal can be worn for up to 30 days as daily wear, or as continuous wear for 29 nights when approved by your optician.
How Much Do Multifocals Cost?
Depending on how many lenses and the type you need, the price will vary.
For daily multifocal contact lenses, you could expect to pay between £23 and £37 for a pack of 30.
For monthly multifocal contact lenses, you could expect to pay between £22 and £36 for a pack of 3 (about three months’ supply) or between £41 and £57 for a pack of 6 (about six months’ supply).
Buying the larger packs will usually result in overall savings, and also removes the need for more frequent re-purchasing.
Are multifocal contact lenses expensive?
Multifocal contact lenses are similarly priced to other forms of lens, with the price depending on how many lenses are in the pack that you purchase. When you purchase larger quantities of contact lenses, to last for a longer period of time, you can decrease the overall cost for each lens purchased.
What vision problems do multifocal lenses correct?
Multifocal contact lenses correct presbyopia caused by loss of elasticity in the eye crystaline lens, normally developing in your 40s.
Are multifocal and presbyopia the same?
Multifocal and presbyopia are not exactly the same, but are related. Presbyopia is a condition that can be corrected by multifocal contact lenses.
Who can wear multifocal contact lenses?
Multifocal contact lenses can be worn by wearers with a prescription for presbyopia, who have had them fitted by an optician.
How long does it take to adjust to multifocal contact lenses?
If you have not worn multifocal contact lenses before, you should be aware of adjustment times. It typically will take 2 or 3 visits to the optician to refine the prescription and correctly fit these lenses in a way that ensures that the patient gets the best possible experience. It will normally then take several weeks for a wearer to fully adapt, so it is important to be patient.
Can multifocal lenses make you dizzy?
Multifocal contact will not typically cause dizziness - However, when you first begin wearing multifocal contact lenses things may appear different from usual for a short time until your eyes adjust to using them.
How do you clean multifocal contact lenses?
There are simple steps to take when cleaning your reusable multifocal contact lenses, whichever brand you choose. These steps are also the same as you’d follow when cleaning regular reusable lenses, using the commonly used multi-purpose solution for soft lenses. Always wash and dry your hands before handling your contact lenses.
Fill your clean case with fresh contact lens solution.
Clean the first lens by placing in the palm of your (clean) hand. Apply a few drops of contact lens solution and rub gently with one finger to help dislodge any deposits or debris.
Repeat the process for the second lenses and then leave both to soak - how long you leave the lens can depend on the solution, so make sure to check for instructions.
Once you have removed the lenses from their clean case the following day, you should dispose of the solution and allow the case to air dry until it needs to be used again the following day.
If you are using daily disposable lenses rather than reusable ones, then you will simply need to dispose of the lenses after each day of use.
Do multifocal contact lenses come in colours?
Coloured multifocal contact lenses are not available from Lenstore.
Can you wear multifocal contact lenses with astigmatism?
If you require contact lenses to correct both presbyopia and astigmatism, there are a few options available. Proclear Multifocal Toric is available from Lenstore, designed for wearers with both conditions.
What is the difference between toric and multifocal lenses?
Simply put, toric lenses are designed for wearers with an astigmatic prescription, whereas multifocal lenses are designed for wearers with presbyopia. Toric lenses are designed for people with astigmatism, which is caused by an uneven curve in the cornea or lens; multifocal lenses have different strengths that help users who have difficulty focusing over different distances, for example from short to long-range. This is due to the loss of elasticity of the eye’s lens over time.
What’s the difference between bifocal and multifocal?
The difference between bifocal and multifocal comes primarily in the number of zones included in the lens. Bifocal lenses have just two zones, serving two distances, whereas multifocal lenses have multiple zones to cover the transition between distances.
Which is better: Multifocal or monovision lenses?
Multifocal and monovision contact lenses are both popular options for correcting presbyopia, though which is more suitable for you will depend on your prescription and specific needs.
Multifocal contact lenses do not interfere with your eye’s binocular vision, meaning they are less likely to cause double vision. Monovision contact lenses are useful when a person is both presbyopic and astigmatic as lens type is not restricted; in order to address the difficulty in changing focus between near and far, the dominant eye is corrected for distance and the non-dominant eye for near.
Whether multifocal or monovision is better for you will depend on your eye health and prescription. An optician will be able to advise you on the best option.
Which is better: Multifocal contact lenses or progressive glasses?
Multifocal contact lenses and progressive glasses each offer benefits in their respective ways. If you are not sure on which option may work better for you, speak to your optician who will likely be able to suggest a tailored solution that will offer the best options for you.
Roshni Patel BSc (Hons) MCOptom qualified as an Optometrist in 2004. She is a member of the Association of Optometrists and is the Professional Services Manager at Lenstore where she is responsible for supporting and guiding all departments from a clinical standpoint.