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Bifocal Contact Lenses - What Are They

By Martin Smith

For year's people who had both nearsightedness and farsightedness had to suffer with eyeglasses that had thick lenses with a line across them. Not only were the glasses heavy but the frames for glasses in general were to say the least, unattractive. The other problem with the bifocal lenses was adjusting to them. You either have to look up or look down especially going downstairs. People often experience dizziness while adapting to the bifocal lenses.

For years people who needed bifocal lenses had only one choice, eyeglasses. Even when contact lenses came on the market, bifocals still could only be had in eyeglasses. That was then and this is now. Now contact lenses offer as many choices if not more choices than for those who wear eyeglasses. Now to the joy of many, there are bifocal contact lenses available. Bifocal contact lenses are available in soft, rigid, gas permeable materials.

Who needs to use bifocal lenses? People who have trouble focusing on objects that are near. They suffer with something called Presbyopia. This doesn't usually develop after age 40.

There are various types of lenses and they are described below.

  • Alternating design- these are similar to bifocal glasses, half the lens has distance powers and the other half has powers for near objects.

  • Simultaneous Design-these lenses try to blend the powers of both distant and near sight prescriptions, they fill in the pupil area. Your eyes adapt and learn to interpret the circle power choice depending on how close or far you are looking.

  • Concentric Design-These are the radial of contact lenses. The lens works on near vision while outer part works on distant vision correction or vice versa.

  • Translating Design- these are also very similar to bifocal eyeglasses, the distance correction is above the near correction. A line separates the lenses. The lens is flat on the bottom to keep it from moving around in your eye when you blink.

  • Asferic Design-Distant and near vision are located at the center of the lens. Near correction is at the center while distance correction surrounds it. They can be reversed in some situations. The doctor will help you decide that.

  • Mono-vision Design-You wear one power lens in one eye and the other in the other eye. Distance vision is usually worn in the dominant eye. Again your doctor will be able to determine this with an examination.

There are also simultaneous vision contact lenses. These lenses allow the eyes to focus on both near and far objects at the same time. Near and distant correction is in concentric rings. Since the distant and near parts of the lens are in sight all the time light from both distant and near objects can be focused on at the same time.

There is a problem with simultaneous vision lenses. While the eye is seeing through the lens some light from distant objects will go through the near vision, and the light from near objects will go through the distant part of the lens. The eye takes both in focus and out of focus at the same time. It is up to the brain to figure out which is the desired image.

Contact lenses whether bifocal or not can only be obtained with a prescription. Through a comprehensive examination your eye doctor will determine whether you are a candidate for bifocal contact lenses and what specific type might be right for you. As with any contact lens there is an adjustment period and it might take more than one try before you get lenses that are the right fit and comfortable for you.

The reality though is that bifocal contact lenses may not be for you, at least in the contact lenses that are now available. Don't give up. If you really want contact lenses and you need bifocals, do your research and keep up to date on the types of lenses available for you.

If you want to try contact lenses some companies have free trial periods of up to a week for you to try the lenses and see how you like them. There are resources available online, through your eye care physician, and in some cases right from the manufacturer. There are discount contact lens sites and some manufacturers offer coupons to you for trying them out. Your budget will undoubtedly play a part in your decision about bifocal contact lenses.

Ask friends or family members who have contact lenses what their experience has been like for them. Of course, not everyone has the same experience but in general, the information could help you and your physician make a determination.

Bifocal contact lenses are available for people with astigmatism. Toric contact lenses in particular come in both colors and disposable types. Consult with your eye care professional, as some professionals are not comfortable with fitting Toric lenses.


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