Typically, most people over the age of 40 will begin to have difficulties seeing clearly at distances closer than arm’s length. At this point in one’s life, the ability to see up close (reading a book or looking at the computer screen) is diminished. This is called presbyopia and is a normal part of aging. It is not an indication of failing vision.

Multi- is a prefix meaning more than one; “focal” is an adjective of the word focus, meaning the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition. Multifocal lenses enable many points, areas, of clarity (distance, intermediate, or near). The ability to see clearly, focus, at more than one distance can be achieved with glasses (bifocal, trifocal, progressives) or contact lenses.

There are many options for individuals with presbyopia who are interested in contact lenses or are currently a contact lens wearer. The doctor can modify your contact lens prescription or prescribe a multifocal contact lens to achieve clarity at multiple distances. Below is a brief summary of some pros and cons of each of the most common wearing modalities.

Reading glasses over distance contact lenses

Contact lenses correcting for distance vision in both eyes. Reading glasses are worn over contact lenses for near vision.

  • Pro(s) – Provides sharpest vision at distance and near.
  • Con(s)- Not able to completely be independent of glasses.

Modified Monovision

One eye corrects for distance vision only while the other eye has a multifocal CL that will correct for intermediate and near.

  • Pro(s)- Relatively sharp vision at distance, intermediate, and near
  • Con(s)- No binocular vision. One eye is always blurred.


One eye is corrected for distance and the other for near.

  • Pro(s)- Provides sharp vision at distance and near.
  • Con(s)- No binocular vision. One eye is always blurred.

Multifocal contact lenses

Both eyes are corrected for distance and near.

  • Pro(s)- Provides binocular vision.
  • Cons(s)- At all distances, vision not as sharp as other options.

Each person’s visual demands and expectations are different. Only a professional contact lens consultation with an eye doctor will help identify the best solution for you. Also, keep in mind that different contact lens materials (soft versus gas permeable) are available and can further expand your contact lens options. Click here to schedule an appointment today!