Finding it hard to read things now?

Woman reading her phone with a magnifying glass

Woman reading phone with a magnifying glassThe menu arrives at the table and the dilemma begins. Do you keep trying to stretch your arm further to get the words into focus?

Hold it closer to the candle and risk a fire? Get out the glasses, arghh? Or just order the Caesar salad and a glass of chardonnay and hope for the best?

At some point, everyone will need help with reading. It’s a natural, if frustrating, condition called presbyopia. Most people start to notice the effects in their mid 40s, but depending on your glasses prescription and the type of work you do, you may notice signs earlier or later.

What is presbyopia?

Presbyopia is caused by the lens inside the eye becoming less flexible and is a natural change that happens as we age. As a result we find it more difficult to focus, making it harder to see objects close up.

One of the most common fears is that the contact lenses could get lost in your eye. This is impossible so put those fears aside!Traditionally, presbyopia has been corrected with glasses using either bifocal or varifocal lenses. These do a brilliant job of correcting your vision for various working distances. But recently, multifocal contact lenses have become more widely available, giving you an option for those glasses-free moments.

What are multifocal contact lenses?

Many people who have never worn contact lenses are concerned about how they look and feel. Rest assured, they have never been more comfortable to wear and easy to look after. You can usually get multifocal contact lenses in a single-use format so no cleaning and storing. They are incredibly thin and made of a clingfilm-like material, and most people can’t feel them in their eye after a couple of minutes.

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How do multifocals work?

To correct your vision at different working distances, the lenses are cleverly designed with concentric rings progressing out from the centre:

  • You won’t notice it, but when you read your pupils reduce in size a little, so most multifocal contact lenses have the reading prescription in the middle.
  • The opposite happens when you look far away – your pupils widen – so the distance portion of your prescription is normally towards the edge of the lens.

This will cover about 90% of your day-to-day use. However, you may need sunglasses for driving to keep your pupils a little wider and ensure good vision (a great excuse for some new designer sunglasses!).

When it comes to how well they work who better to ask than some ladies wearing them already:

Mel is a 45 year old, professional lady who has worn contact lenses most of her life. She dreaded the thought of having to wear glasses when her reading prescription started to make day-to-day work more difficult.

‘Multifocal contact lenses mean I look as nature intended! I think I look better in contact lenses and I think make up looks better on me. As a person who has worked in the beauty industry make-up is important to me.’

And it’s not just the cosmetic aspects, Mel also appreciates the wide field of view provided by contact lenses, something that can feel restricted in glasses.

Sarah, 43, is an active mother of one, and loves the freedom contact lenses provide: ‘With multifocal contact lenses I don’t need to worry about where my reading glasses are, it’s great to have one less thing to worry about! I don’t feel my age so why should I have to look it, putting on reading glasses while out for a night with the girls ages me, multifocal contact lenses work so naturally, I forget I have difficulty reading!’

So if you’ve found that your arms just aren’t long enough or you have your text at maximum on your mobile phone, why not try multifocal contact lenses… and see what you’ve been missing.

About Reah Hughes

I qualified as a contact lens optician in 2009, receiving the Elsevier awards for the highest full pass in the combined examinations. Starting at Specsavers as a Saturday worker straight from school, I developed a real passion for optics and was determined to learn more. Specsavers put me through nearly five years of training and set me on the road to a fascinating career. I’m now the contact lens portfolio manager for Specsavers in Nottingham.