Monovision and Multifocal Contact Lenses:
Monovision and Multifocal contact lenses are designed for patients that are motivated to meet all of their visual demands without the need for additional reading glasses. All individuals need reading glasses or some form of bifocal correction with age. In addition, patients that are fit with standard distance vision only (DVO) contact lenses will also need reading glasses to meet their near demands. This is a problem that some patients choose to manage with specialty contact lenses.
Monovision Contact Lenses
Monovision contact lenses are a great solution for patients who want to perform both distance and near tasks in their contacts alone. This is often the first fitting style that Optometrists choose for their patients.
When a patient is fit with monovision lenses, they will have one eye that is deemed the “dominant eye” and another eye that is referred to as the “non-dominant eye”. This is determined by a simple test that your eye doctor will do with you in their office.
Your dominant eye is also referred to as your distance eye. This is because your Optometrist will give you a prescription for your dominant eye that allows it to see well for distance. Your non-dominant eye is also called your near eye. For this eye, the optometrist will give you a prescription that will allow you to read things at near. Therefore, patients who are fit in monovision lenses use each eye for different tasks; the distance eye will not be able to view near tasks well, and the near eye will not be able to view distance tasks well.
While the idea of using each eye for different tasks may seem outrageous at first, many patients quickly and easily adapt to monovision. This is because our brains adapt very quickly to understanding which eye to “pay attention to” and which eye to “ignore” while doing different tasks. Soon, you will be navigating your world in monovision lenses without any issues!
Multifocal contact lenses have the same goal in mind as monovision lenses, but they accomplish this goal in a different way. Ultimately, when patients are fit in multifocal lenses, they will use both of their eyes to view distance and near related tasks as opposed to one eye being dedicated for distance and the other for near. This is because multifocal lenses function a lot like bifocal glasses: patients use both eyes through one part of the lens to view distant objects and both eyes through a separate part of the lens (often delineated by a line in the glasses) to view near objects. This option seems more natural at first than monovision lenses, but patients must also adapt to multifocal lenses as well.
The major adaptation that patients will require in multifocal lenses is to understand that, because the contact lens has optics within it to allow you to see distance and near objects, the vision may not always seem as “sharp”. This is what Optometrists refer to as a visual compromise; if a lens is designed to do as much as a multifocal lens does, it’s difficult to achieve perfectly sharp vision at all distances. With this being said, the large majority of patients that wear multifocal contact lenses still feel that their vision is beyond adequate enough to perform their everyday tasks well and comfortably. In our clinic, we say that if you can do 80-85% of the things you need to do during your day with the lenses in, then it’s a great fit!
If you are interested in being fit with monovision or multifocal contact lenses, ask your Optometrist at your next eye appointment if you are a good candidate. Lastly, your Optometrist will let you “trial” these contact lenses to make sure they are successful for you before finalizing the prescription and requiring you to purchase a year supply of lenses. Have you ever tried monovision or multifocal contact lenses? Let us know your experience below and visit our Eye Love Facebook Page!
Dr. Travis Zigler