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Choosing Between Single Focal and Multifocal Lenses

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75% of Americans use some kind of corrective lens to improve their vision. With statistics this high, even if you are not aware of any eye problems you should have your eyes tested annually, maybe more depending on your age and medical history. An eye exam is a regular health check, and can be used to expose underlying health problems as well as changes in your vision. In a recent study by the American Optometric Association (AOA), in one year, 62% of all patients completing an eye exam required an eyeglass lens prescription. Maybe you are already wearing corrective lenses, but do you know when you need to switch from single focal to multifocal lenses? This article will help you learn more about multifocal lenses and if they are something you need to consider with your doctor. Our Denver Peepers Optical team, is here to help answer any questions you may have as you learn more about your lens options.

What Are Multifocal Lenses?

Multifocal lenses (also called progressive lenses) enable you to see clearly at different distance ranges through one lens. These common lenses enable you to see objects that are far away, objects that are at an arm’s length distance (like working on a computer), and objects that are close-up like when reading.

Why Do I Need Multifocal Lenses?

As we age, our eyes lose the ability (accommodation) to easily switch focus between objects which are far away and objects which are close up. Depending on how your eyes age, you may find it useful to consider progressive lenses or multifocal lenses. According to the AOA, progressive lenses accounted for more than a third of all lenses dispensed in 2011. Multifocal lenses are typically prescribed for adults over age 40 to compensate for a common condition called presbyopia (explained further below). Multifocal lenses are also the lenses of choice for some children and young adults who have eye teaming or focusing problems that cause eyestrain when reading. Some research suggests wearing bifocals or other multifocal lenses may help control nearsightedness in some children by reducing the focusing demands of reading and near work. An optometrist of our DenverPeepers Optical team may recommend multifocal lenses if you currently wear one pair of glasses for reading and another pair for distance. With multifocal lenses you don’t have to swap your glasses every time you change from one activity to another.

What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a common vision condition where the crystalline lens of your eye loses its flexibility, making it harder for you to focus on close objects. Presbyopia may seem to occur suddenly, but the actual loss of flexibility takes place over a number of years. Presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in the early to mid-40s. Presbyopia is a natural part of the aging process of the eye. It is not a disease, and it cannot be prevented. Presbyopia is treated with multifocal lenses, contacts and sometimes surgery.

How Do Multifocal Lenses Work?

Multifocal lenses work by merging three different prescriptions, or powers, into one clear lens, allowing you to see clearly at all distances. The lens power progressively changes from the top of the lens to the bottom. Distance vision is through the upper part of the lens and may cause a small amount of soft focus at the edges of your vision. Vision at arms length is through the middle part of the lens and causes more soft focus at the edges of your vision in this part of your lens. Near vision is through the lower part of the lens. There is some soft focus at the edges of your vision in this part of your lens. Unlike bifocal lenses, progressive multifocal lenses do not have lines or segments. They offer you clear vision over a large range of distances instead of just the two distances bifocal lenses offer.

How Do I Know Which Multifocals Are Right For Me?

Choosing which multifocals are for you is something you don’t want to attempt to do by yourself or at an online retailer. Not all progressive multifocal lenses are the same. The overall design of a progressive lens distorts the edges of the lens so it is important to choose a high-quality, wide mid-range lense. You also need to consider the reliability of the brand, ensure you have your precise measurements, and a properly fitted frame. Our experienced team of doctors and dispensing staff at Peepers Optical will be able to guide you in your choice and will base their recommendations on your lifestyle and the common usage of your glasses.

What To Expect When Switching to Multifocal Lenses?

Adapting to your new multifocal lenses will take some time–typically a couple weeks. This is especially true if you are switching from a single focal lens, or have never worn glasses before. The more consistently you wear your new eyewear, the quicker you will adjust. Why will you need a period of adaptation? The progressive lens is designed to gradually increase the optical power from the top of the lens to the bottom. At first, this may cause things to look blurry or less clear than before as you learn to move your eyes up and down the lens. Your individual motivation and drive will be the determining factor in adaptation to these lenses.

Have More Questions? We are Here to Help!

At Peepers Optical, our goal is to make certain that every patient is happy with their purchase and the service they receive. If you are having difficulty becoming accustomed to your new multifocal lenses, please come in and see us. A fitting adjustment might be all that’s required. If you have any questions about taking care of your glasses, or your current eye health, don’t hesitate to contact us at: (720) 370-1360 today to schedule an eye exam.