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Glasses and Contacts: What are Multifocal and Bifocal Lenses?

Are you over the age of 40 and suddenly noticing that the words in your favorite book or on the menu at your favorite steakhouse are getting just a little harder to see than they used to be? Does your vision both up close and far away seem a bit blurrier than you remember? These may be signs of presbyopia.

Fortunately, this condition is both easy to diagnose and easy to treat!

Our eye care team at has extensive experience with the detection and correction of presbyopia. We can recommend just the right bifocal or multifocal contact lenses and eyeglasses to address your particular needs.

Find out more, below.

Bifocal and Multifocal Lenses

Bifocal and multifocal contacts and glasses are designed to address issues associated with presbyopia by offering both a distance vision and near vision prescription together in a single lens.

A bifocal lens offers two distinct visual zones, with the primary, larger section helping to correct for distance vision. The secondary, smaller section of the lens, allows for clear near vision for reading and other nearby tasks.

With progressive lenses, the near vision and distance vision zones are more blended, offering a more seamless viewing experience. This design can sometimes take longer to get used to than the simpler bifocal design.

Glasses or Contacts?

While they are designed to address the same issues, bifocal and multifocal glasses and contacts have distinct advantages and disadvantages,

Multifocal and bifocal glasses offer crisp, clear vision at all distances that usually cannot be matched even by the highest-quality contact lenses of similar design. On the other hand, glasses can be cumbersome, and make some people feel “old” due to the association of bifocals and aging.

Contact lenses offer a seamless viewing experience, without the blurry peripheral vision that usually comes with eyeglasses. Our eye care team offers a wide selection of the latest contact lens brands, including:

  • Alcon
  • Bausch+Lomb
  • CooperVision
  • Johnson and Johnson

For more information about multifocal and bifocal contact lenses and eyeglasses, come visit us or give us a call at today.

At Silicon Valley Eye Physicians, we put your family’s needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 408-739-6200 or book an appointment online to see one of our Sunnyvale eye doctors.

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Q&A

Do multifocal lenses have uses beyond presbyopia?

Yes. Beyond correction of vision issues associated with presbyopia, these lenses have also increasingly been used, as eyeglasses and contacts, for myopia management. This helps slow or stop the progression of nearsightedness in children, reducing their risk of developing sight-threatening eye conditions later in life.

Can presbyopia be cured?

No. Unfortunately, everyone experiences at least some degree of presbyopia as they age, and there are no known cures. A person over the age of 40 who has begun experiencing difficulties associated with presbyopia should speak to their eye doctor immediately to discuss what their best options are for vision correction.