Multifocal contact lense question

I wear progressive glasses which are -1.75 and +.25 for reading for both eyes. So far I have tried 2 types of multifocal lenses: Bausch + Lomb Ultras with “low” reading power, and Acuvue Moist with +1.25 reading power. Neither seem to help much with reading. What am I doing wrong?

It won’t let me edit…I just wanted to add that I can read fine with my glasses.

I don’t have anything professional to add, but when I first tried multifocal contact lenses about 8 years ago my optometrist told me they only work for about half the people that try them.

I really don’t want to make you feel bad, but after putting them in the first time, it was as close to a miracle as I’ve experienced. I encourage you to continue trying; possibly even with another provider. I don’t know the factors that prevent them from working for some people.

I actually read that yesterday…some people just can’t see the 2nd lense it seems. I have actually tried 3 types now. The 3rd was awhile back and I remember my vision was terrible with them too. I will try a few more brands though.

I built devices to measure the optical power of contact lenses. They measured the optical power of bifocal contacts just fine. I haven’t tried wearing them myself, and I haven’t worked with people who wear them, but here are a couple of thoughts.

There are three different kinds of bifocal contacts, as shown in the drawing at the end of this:

The ones I worked with were the concentric “bullseye” design, the one on the left. You’ll notice that there are distinct areas that provide vision, with the largest (outside) area being for distance. For aspheric-type lenses, the outside is apparently for near vision.

In either case, if your pupil closes down too much, you’ll start losing the region on the outside. If you’re increasing the lighting - a natural response when it’s hard to read something – you’ll be cutting down on whatever component is outermost, and get less imaging from that. It could be that, if your lenses are aspheric, any increase in lighting that you do is directly offset by the decrease in the amount of light focused under the near region. So, if that’s the case, you might not want to ramp up the lighting.

I always thought that bifocal contact lenses were a weird idea, because the lenses necessarily correct both near and far vision simultaneously. This gives you two superposed images, one in focus, the other out of focus, and it’s up to your brain to sort them out. Some people can do this easily, while others have difficulty, and I don’t know how or why this happens. You could simply be someone whose brain has trouble with interpreting the signals it’s being given. With ordinary glass bifocals this isn’t an issue, because your brain only sees either one image or the other, depending upon which part of the glasses you look through, so it doesn’t have to sort through two images.

People who use monocles have a similar brain-interpreting issue. They rely on the corrected eye being the dominant one in fusing the images and “creating” a sharp, in-focus overall image in the brain, despite the brain seeing an in-focus image from one eye and an out-of-focus image from the other.

Since the OP is asking for advice, let’s move this from GQ to IMHO.

Do you have astigmatism? Could be that uncorrected astigmatism is making things blurry despite the contacts actually correcting your vision otherwise.


I have been wearing progressive contacts with astigmatism correction for years. So not quite the same situation as the OP. The good news is the non-astigmatic lenses are vastly cheaper and supposedly more effective. Mine fall more in the “Just bring money.” category.

IME the overall result is not nearly as sharp as progressive spectacles. And the up-close vision is the weak link; the far distant vision is relatively stronger.

IME the degradation of quality is worse in dim light, and in dim light the up-close suffers more than the far distance does. As I have gotten older (age ~45 then to now 62 while using these lenses) the issues have gotten larger.

The way I optimize what I get is by having the contacts made for “computer” distance and beyond. So ~3’ to infinity. And on the rare occasions I’m doing no kidding up-close work I add drug store cheaters; 1.50s in my case.

My bottom line: I find the contacts adequate, not wonderful. The net tradeoff of not hassling with spectacles, multiple reflections, fogging vs COVID masks, vanity, etc., is what tips the balance for me to keep using them.

Hope some of this is relevant to the OP.

I used the Coopervison biofinity, if I recall when testing them out they gave me two sets (one eye has an astigmatism and the other did not but needed more correction), one set for right eye dominance and one for left eye , things looked weird with the wrong set up.
Last year I got laser surgery and one eye welded up for close up and one for distance and I wonder why I never had it done years ago.

The thing with progressive contacts in my experience is that they kinda suck. You have to solve for one criteria and accept the rest. In my case, I just got a new prescription. The criteria was I need to be able to read my mobile phone at arm’s length and read road signs. Yep, depending on the the day, salinity of my eyes, etc., I can read my mobile phone anywhere from a foot away to arms length. I can read a road sign while driving. Distances between arm’s length and a dozens of yards can be dodgy. Distance right in front of my face is dodgy. 10 miles away may be dodgy.

Once your eye lenses degrade beyond a certain point, you can only be clear in a range. Just pick your range.

Thanks for the feedback everyone. Wearing them a bit more I realized they do help my reading somewhat, but it seems they work better in bright light.