Bifocal Contacts? Yes. Since the 1960’s!
Bifocal contacts were originally designed in hard lenses materials. The original designs looked much like an eyeglass bifocal with the reading portion at the bottom of the lens. The lens was ballasted or made thicker at the bottom to keep the bifocal in position. On down gaze the eye would rotate into the reading portion. This is referred to as an alternating bifocal. These are actually available today in many designs but made from more comfortable and healthier gas permeable materials.
The most popular bifocal contact lenses are made of soft lens materials and utilize a simultaneous vision system. This means that both the distance and the near vision are simultaneously in the pupil.
Generally, the best vision is achieved with a gas permeable or rigid lens material. Gas permeable lenses offer crisp sharp vision and automatically correct for astigmatism. They also work well for dry eye patients. Patients will frequently wear one pair of lenses for at least a year or two. Care for gas perms is very easy.
For patients presently wearing single vision gas permeable lenses, the transition into a bifocal is very easy. Soft lens patients do require more time to adapt but can also make the transition and enjoy great distance, near and computer vision.
The newest breakthrough, January 1, 2008, is a hybrid bifocal lens called the Synergeyes lens. This lens has the best of both worlds. This lens is essentially a soft lens with a gas permeable center! The bifocal is a simultaneous design with comfort and optical clarity second to none.
Patients without astigmatism do well with a plethora of soft lens bifocal designs. These are available in two week, four week or quarterly disposable materials. New materials for dry eye are also available. These lenses are usually of the simultaneous design. There is even a progressive bifocal contact lens design.