person choosing between reading glasses and contact lenses.

Beginning at around age 40, you’ll begin to develop presbyopia. This is a natural part of the aging process in which the crystalline lens inside your eye becomes less flexible, causing you to lose the ability to focus on objects up close. If you have trouble with small newspaper print or with reading menus in dim lighting, presbyopia is likely to blame.

One solution to managing the visual frustration of presbyopia is to carry around a pair of reading glasses for those challenging moments when you are struggling to read. But, as presbyopia progresses, it may become very inconvenient to put on reading glasses every time you need to see something up close. It’s an even bigger pain if you switch between glasses for distance vision and readers for near.

Fortunately, there are options for people who currently wear glasses as well as for people who are current contact lens wearers.  

Monovision vs. Multifocal Contact Lenses

Originally, the only way to compensate for presbyopia with contact lenses alone was with a technique called monovision. People who wear monovision contact lenses are given a prescription for near vision in one eye and a lens for distance vision in the other.

Monovision is still in use today, but it prevents your two eyes from working together, so it’s not the optimal way to correct vision. A newer option, called multifocal contact lenses, contain multiple zones of vision correction instead of just one. This allows both your eyes to work together, allowing you to see well at both distance and near.

Different Multifocal Designs

Multifocal lenses are available in a handful of different designs. Concentric bifocal multifocals have near vision correction at the center of the lens surrounded by distance correction, or visa versa. Alternating image, also known as translating designs, are like mini bifocals with distance vision correction at the top and near vision at the bottom. These are only available in gas permeable lenses. Simultaneous image designs have both distance and near vision in front of the pupil at the same time. Today’s multifocal contact lenses offer a new level of vision quality thanks to CooperVision’s Balanced Progressive® Technology, an advanced design containing multiple zones of vision correction in both lenses.

According to a study by Foresight Regulatory in partnership with leading optometrists, Balanced Progressive Technology allows for fine-tuning of the fit and the ability to make small, incremental changes in vision. CooperVision’s Biofinity® multifocal contact lenses feature this innovative technology1.

It’s Nice to Have Options

Soft multifocal lens choices were once very slim, but today there are options. When starting with any multifocal lens, there is an adjustment period during which time your brain has to get used to a new way of seeing. However, many people consider this a small price to pay for eliminating the inconvenience of reading glasses.


Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.

1. Rigel L et al. A Shift in Presbyopia Management. Contact Lens Spectrum. February 2005.

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