Can Contact Lenses Help Your Presbyopia?

Author: Premier Eye Associates

At one point in time, we will all require the assistance of reading glasses in order to see up close. This is due to a natural aging process of the eye called presbyopia.

Presbyopia is a frustrating process. Many individuals hate wearing glasses and do not want to depend on them to see. Many have even paid thousands of dollars for refractive surgeries like LASIK—they last thing they want is reading glasses!

Fortunately, the contact lens world has come up with a solution to this problem—contact lenses for presbyopes!


What is Presbyopia?

To understand presbyopia, you will need a basic understanding on the anatomy of the eye.

Vision is created through proper refraction of light. Light rays are given off by an object, they must then be bent by a surface so that they land directly on the backmost structure of the eye—the retina.

The retina contains millions of specialized cells called photoreceptors. Photoreceptors detect light (when it is properly refracted so that the light lands on them) and then send signals to the brain for image processing.

If light is bent too little or too much, the light rays come to a point either in front of or behind the retina, creating blur.

There are two structures within the eye responsible for bending light so that it lands properly on the retina—the cornea and the lens.

The cornea is the front-most structure of the eye. It is clear and covers the colored part of your eye (iris). The corneal shape is one of the largest factors in your prescription.

If the corneal is too steep, it will cause myopia, or near-sightedness. If the cornea is too flat, it will cause hyperopia, or far-sightedness.

Refractive surgeries such as LASIK, PRK, and SMILE all alter the cornea to correct refractive error, eliminating the need for glasses.

The lens, on the other hand, is located in the center of the eye and is flexible. When it flexes, it refracts light more, allowing us to see near objects without reading glasses when we are younger through a process called accommodation.

With years of birthdays, the lens starts to lose its flexibility and becomes set for one area of focus—distance. Hence the need for reading glasses with age.


Contact Lens Options for Presbyopes

For those who hate glasses, there are different methodologies for contacts lenses to correct distance and near vision—monovision and multifocal contact lenses.

Monovision is the simpler method of the two, and involves each eye being prescribed a contact lens for a different working distance.

The patient’s dominant eye is corrected to see well at distance. The patient’s non-dominant eye is corrected to see well up close.

Monovision gives patients a range of vision when both eyes are used together, however each eye will only be able to see clearly at the distance it is setup for.

Many individuals love monovision. Others have issues adapting to the difference in prescription between the two eyes, noting headaches, depth perception issues, and vision that is not perfectly crisp at distance or near.

Multifocal contact lenses on the other hand correct both distance and near vision for each eye. Multifocal contact lenses vary by design—different manufacturers have different optics ground into their lenses.

The jest of multifocal contact lenses, however, is a series of concentric rings with varying power, allowing for a slow change in prescription to correct for both distance and near vision.

This works because our pupils (the black part of our eyes) change size depending on what we are looking at. Our pupils get small while looking at a near object and expand when looking at a distance object.

Therefore, the innermost ring may hold an add power to correct near vision, whereas the outermost ring holds the correct power to correct your distance vision!

The downside to multifocals, however, is that they can be a bit tricky to perfect. You may need to be patient while your doctor figures out the best way to optimize your vision. This may be switching lens brands, prescriptions, or making small adjustments to the add powers.

Regardless, if you are suffering from presbyopia and want to try to correct the problem with contacts, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor today! You do not need to have previously worn contacts in the past, nor do you need to have both a distance and near prescription.


Dr. Anthony Spina and the staff of Premier Eye Associates specialize in glasses, soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses, and medical eye exams. Call our eye doctor in Auburn, AL today at (334) 539-5391 or schedule an appointment online  if you are interested in contacts for presbyopia.  Our optometrist provides only the highest quality eye care services amongst eye doctors in the Auburn Alabama area.

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