Multifocal Contact Lenses Give You Freedom From Glasses

Multifocal contact lenses are a great option if you wear bifocals. We don't recommend that they replace your glasses, but they may be an alternative for times when you don't want to wear glasses.

  • Going out for the evening
  • Sports like skiing
  • Special occasions
  • Some occupations where glasses get in the way

A multifocal contact lens is not quite the same as a bifocal lens for eyeglasses. There is no segment at the bottom of the lens that you look through for reading. Instead, most multifocal contacts use a concentric ring design to allow for more than one strength in the contact lens. While you look through the contact lens, your brain determines how to see through the lens automatically. 

There are some bifocal contact lenses with a design that has distance on top, and reading at the bottom, such as in rigid gas permeable lenses. Traditionally though, these lenses have not been very successful.

Fitting Multifocal Contact Lenses

If you want to try wearing multifocal contacts, be prepared to take some time with your contact lens fitter to get the optimum contact lens for you. You may have to return several times (depending on your prescription and your needs) to tweak the powers of the lenses.

There is also an adaptation period during which time you will need to get used to wearing the lenses, and to allow your brain to adapt to the different powers throughout the lens.

If one brand of contact lens doesn't work for you, another may work better. Each brand has different optic zones and each person has different sizes of pupils, and sometimes it takes a little trial and error. So don't be afraid to ask if there are alternatives for you. Each contact lens brand has it as own design that works differently than others, and for some people just trying another brand can give improved vision.

Just a warning about some optometrists and contact lens fitter with regards to fitting multifocal contact lenses. Because multifocals take more time to fit properly than the average contact lens, many ecps don't like to take the time to do the job properly. Often they will rush a patient out, telling them either they can't wear contact lenses, or that a lens is the best you will get. While this may be the case, sometimes they don't feel the time is worth taking to get you a better lens. Make sure the fitter you are working with is willing to take the time to try a number of lenses if necessary. By the same token, make sure you have the time to try each lens properly to determine what is best for you.

Pros and Cons of Multifocals

Many people are extremely happy with their multifocal contacts. They have many benefits, but there are some drawbacks as well.


  • Being able to see close (cell phone), intermediate (computer), and far away (TV) without wearing glasses
  • Improved peripheral vision from glasses
  • Being able to wear non-prescription sunglasses
  • Not having to search for reading glasses all the time
  • Freedom from glasses being in the way, for example occupations such as caregiver, house cleaners; some sports such as skiing


  • They don't work for everyone
  • Cost: they are quite a bit more expensive than non-multifocal contact lenses
  • Some people see halos around lights at night
  • There is usually some compromise with either distance or near vision


If you have tried multifocals and you have not succesful with them, don't rule out contact lenses quite yet. You do have a couple of options. 

  • Monovision is another alternative to glasses, just a different way of seeing.
  • Distance contact lenses with reading glasses for when you need to see close up.

Return to Contact Lens Types from Multifocal Contact Lenses

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