Everything You Need to Know About Multifocal Contact Lenses

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Everything You Need to Know About Multifocal Contact Lenses

What are they? | How do they work? | Aspheric vs concentric | Are they right for me? | How to use them | Advantages and disadvantages | General tips

By Anna MacGabhann
Reviewed by Beck Jinnette
Beck Jinnette

Reviewed by

Beck Jinnette
Beck has over 17 years of experience in eye care, holding her Certificate IV in Dispensing in Australia.
This article will provide you with the simplest possible overview of multifocal contact lenses.
Everything You Need to Know About Multifocal Contact Lenses

The world of multifocal contact lenses can be rather overwhelming –  and that’s an understatement!

But fear not; you are in the perfect place to find out everything you need to know. Get ready for the simplest possible breakdown of multifocals.

What are multifocal contact lenses?

Multifocal contact lenses are a type of lens that can correct vision for individuals who suffer from both presbyopia and other refractive errors.

These lenses work by combining prescriptions for distance and up-close vision into a single lens. They offer an alternative to wearing glasses, which may not always be practical or desirable.

With multifocal contact lenses, wearers can enjoy improved vision for both near and far distances, without having to switch between multiple lenses. 

There are different ways to achieve multifocal lenses. some will provide the distance and near in the one lens. Others will have the ADD power in both, but one eye is for seeing near and the other for seeing further away.

Finally there are some that have one eye strictly for near and the other only for for distance.

How do multifocal contact lenses work?

For people who wear contact lenses, having to switch between multiple pairs for different settings can be inconvenient.

Fortunately, multifocal contact lenses solve this problem by allowing wearers to see clearly at different distances with just one pair of lenses.

This allows for a smoother transition between different environments, such as going from reading a book to driving a car.

Multifocal or varifocal contact lenses are a great option for those who want convenience and ease of use while still maintaining clear vision.

Its important to note that this transition may not always be perfect and may take some getting used to. This is an important factor to discuss with your optometrist when getting fitted.

Aspheric vs concentric - which multifocal lenses are right for me?

It is important to note that there are two types of multifocal lenses available, aspheric and concentric.

Different types of contact lenses
Varifocal Contact Lens

Concentric ring design

Concentric circles vary in diameter, but share the same centre. Concentric ring design involves a central circular prescription lens and alternating concentric circles surrounding the central point.

The eye then alternates between the rings to see at different distances with a gradual transition.

There can be multiple layers of rings, two of which are usually within the pupil’s range. This range varies as the pupil contracts and dilutes according to the levels of light.

Concentric ring lenses are available in both soft and hard gas permeable materials. However, the location of the prescription will vary according to the material.

A hard or rigid gas-permeable lens features the long-distance prescription in the central point of the lens.This is referred to as the centre-distance. 

A soft contact lens will comparatively place the short-sighted prescription in the centre of the lens. In this case, the prescription is known as the centre-near.

It is also possible to have a central near-sighted prescription in the dominant eye and a long-sighted centre for its non-dominant counterpart.


Varifocal contact lenses work by combining multiple prescriptions in each lens, allowing the wearer to see clearly at both near and far distances without having to switch lenses. 

Aspheric design

Aspheric design in multifocal contacts is similar to progressive lenses in glasses, where the various prescriptions merge across a single lens.

Aspheric lenses are designed to be flatter and smoother than traditional spherical lenses, which can result in sharper and clearer vision for wearers.

Additionally, they can provide a more comfortable and natural fit, reducing the chances of irritation or discomfort. 

Aspheric lenses are particularly beneficial for those with higher prescriptions or astigmatism, as they can reduce visual distortions and improve visual acuity. 

Are multifocal contact lenses right for me?

Before knowing if any contact lenses suit your needs, speak to your optician to determine if they’re a good option.

Its essential to note that not everyone can wear them, so an eyecare specialist is a good place to start before finding out the basics of how they will work when you wear them. 

Multifocal or varifocal contact lenses as a standalone product are designed with a gradual transition between a prescription for close reading on one end and a prescription for normal distance viewing on the other.

They are very similar to progressive eyeglasses.The human vision system learns to select the appropriate prescription through the lens, depending on the desired distance at the time.

As mentioned, here are two ways that multifocal contact lenses are designed: concentric ring design and aspheric design.

Multifocal contact lenses come in both soft lens and rigid gas permeable (RGP or hard) lens materials.

How to use multifocal contact lenses

Wearing multifocal contact lenses can be a daunting task, but with proper insertion, there is nothing to worry about.

To use multifocal contacts, it’s important to follow the instructions provided by your eye doctor and the manufacturer. 

These may include proper cleaning techniques and a specific wearing schedule.

With some practice and patience, wearing multifocal contacts can become second nature and provide clear vision for all of life’s activities.

Choosing multifocal contact lenses: advantages and disadvantages

Multifocal contact lenses are not suitable for everyone. Read on to find out the advantages and disadvantages of using them.


You will no doubt be pleased to hear that multifocal contact lenses are available for various usage periods e.g. reusable multifocal contact lenses or daily or monthly multifocal contact lenses.

There are also options between soft and rigid designs to suit your personal preference. A key benefit is that you can get multifocal contact lenses for astigmatism.

This is a type of refractive error, meaning that the eye does not focus light evenly on the retina, resulting in blurred near and distance vision.

Those with astigmatism would often also develop presbyopia around the age of 40. 

This led to a tricky decision: opt for wearing reading glasses on top of contact lenses or wear bifocal glasses. Thanks to multifocal lenses, clear, seamless vision is now achievable with much less compromise.

Disadvantages and advantages
advantages and disadvantages


There are some disadvantages to multifocals that may mean they are not the right lens for you. Often there is hazy or shadowed vision early on in the adjustment process.

Multifocal contact lenses come at a higher cost compared to standard contacts. This is owing to the more complex prescriptions and precision required when fitting them. 

The cost of varifocal lenses is an important factor in deciding your method of vision correction but ultimately it should be something that you speak with your doctor about.

If you want a complete brand guide that discusses price options so you feel more prepared to have this conversation, visit our Optical Centre.

General tips for new contact lens wearers

If you’ve only ever worn glasses, getting to grips with contact lenses will be a new experience for you.

While the novelty of your newfound vision is thrilling, the process of adjusting to contact lens wear can be challenging at first. However, don’t worry – with a few simple tips, you’ll be a pro in no time.

If you have never worn contact lenses before, the first step is always to see your eye care professional who will assess if contact lenses are suitable for your needs.

They will confirm the correct fit for you. After this consult our simple tips, you’ll be a pro in no time.

Make sure to always wash and dry your hands before handling your lenses. Also, follow your eye doctor’s instructions closely, especially regarding cleaning and replacing your lenses.

Remember to give your eyes a break by wearing your glasses occasionally and avoid sleeping in contact lenses. 

For more detailed advice, you can speak to your eye care professional and consult our guide to inserting contact lenses as a reminder.

Putting them in might take you while in the beginning, but just remember that practice makes perfect.

With proper care, you’ll be able to comfortably and safely enjoy the increased freedom and many other benefits that come with contact lens wear.

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