If you think about what really matters to you, in terms of your health and wellbeing, good eye care probably comes high on the list.
But when you try to find out how your eyes work, you often end up drowning in Latin. So here, in plain English, is an explanation of a very common eye condition: Presbyopia.
The word literally means “old man’s eyes,” which is a rather indelicate way of saying this is an age-related condition. The term reflects the loss of elasticity of a lens in the eye, which starts from birth (when your eyes are highly elastic) and usually becomes obvious in your mid-forties to early fifties (when they are not!).
It’s all natural and normal, but it’s still annoying, because it is making it harder to read or see things close up. If you are part of an age 40+ group in a restaurant, you may see some of your fellow diners squinting as they move their menus further from their faces, trying to bring the words into focus. Or, you may be the 50-year-old struggling to read (or understand!) the emojis your kids have used in a smartphone message.
That’s Presbyopia in action!
It’s only natural
We expect things to become less robust or powerful over time. Presbyopia is simply the natural loss of the eye’s ability to focus on nearby objects. It happens to everyone.
As the lens in the eye becomes less flexible, it loses its ability to change focus quickly and accurately, especially over a range of distances. Not only do you lose your power to see as clearly as before in close-up, but you may also develop headaches through eye strain.
Multifocal, varifocal, bifocal
The neat solution to Presbyopia is wearing a bifocal or multifocal (also known as varifocal) contact lens.
A bifocal contact lens delivers two prescriptions (covering near and distance vision) within one lens, while multifocal contact lenses combine a selection of different powers to correct vision. If you come across the term ‘multifocal contacts’, it describes any contact lens with multiple (more than two) powers.
A lot of people don’t know (or believe) such contact lenses exist. It seems amazing that a tiny sliver of translucent, transparent material can perform such wonders, but it does - correcting vision at all distances, so that near, intermediate and distant objects all stay sharp and clear when you look at them.
Some of these lenses are designed like archery targets, with concentric rings. Each alternates in power, correcting for near then distance vision from the centre of the lens to its edge.
An alternative design is ‘aspheric’, which means the lens corrects for near vision at the centre, then the power gradually increases outwards - initially correcting for intermediate sight needs, with the outer section used to correct for distance.
A quiet revolution
In every case, the move from glasses (or uncorrected poor vision) to multifocal contact lenses is likely to be revolutionary. Instead of an awkward array of physical frames and lenses, you just insert your multifocal contact lenses - then forget about them.
Immediately, the lenses work at every distance: near, intermediate and across far horizons. And they do all of this simply and comfortably, without you even noticing.
Start with the experts
If you are a glasses wearer, or someone whose perfect vision seems to be a thing of the past, which lenses should you choose, to regain effective vision at all distances?
As always, your best guide is your local eye care professional, whose recommendation reflects not only experience and expertise, but also your specific eye condition and needs.
This consultation may point you in the direction of soft contact lenses like TOTAL1TM Multifocal, or DAILIES® AquaComfort PLUS® Multifocal. These are examples of lenses you replace with new ones every day. Each uses a different material to address specific needs you may have, while giving you clarity and comfort across all vision distances.
However, if you and your optometrist determine that you’d be better off using monthly rather than daily replacement lenses, then AIR OPTIX® plus HydraGlyde® Multifocal could be the soft multifocal contact lenses for you.
Try before you buy
By all means ask your optometrist if they have any free trial lenses, but you should expect them to charge for an initial appointment and ongoing services (covering their time, facilities and equipment).
They will test your eyes and find the most appropriate solution, based on your specific multifocal needs. You may, for instance, have astigmatism or another condition, which responds better to one lens type than another.
Find your future
The important fact - and good news - is that there is a multifocal lens for you. It can’t stop presbyopia from being a difficult word, but it can stop it from being an aggravation.
You can then make presbyopia a thing of the past – corrected and forgotten about, every day!