Perspectives

We need to talk about multifocal contact lenses

There’s a lot to gain by supporting presbyopic patients with multifocal contact lenses and proactive, clear explanations, writes Robyn Marsden

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We all know that presbyopia is completely natural and inevitable. But while we are comfortable with this knowledge, we often forget the experience can be worrying for our patients. It can be frustrating even. Those experiencing symptoms for the first time can be anxious; I once had a patient who thought they had experienced a stroke.

As a profession we need to be more proactive, getting on the front foot in explaining presbyopia and the options available. We are all living longer, more active lives and the vision correction solutions that we prescribe should reflect that. Presbyopia doesn’t mean that patients have to change their lifestyles.

As a profession we need to be more proactive, getting on the front foot in explaining presbyopia and the options available

Robyn Marsden, professional affairs consultant for Johnson & Johnson Vision


So, let’s consider multifocal contact lenses. In my experience, we are falling into an old-school habit by opting to prescribe glasses only, a combination of glasses and contact lenses, or monovision without considering the benefits that newer multifocal contact lenses can offer.

This is because historically, fitting multifocal contact lenses for presbyopes could be challenging. Multifocal lenses typically offered a limited number of designs, which would therefore require multiple adjustments to get the right fit for patients. But, just as varifocal glasses have evolved, so have contact lenses. For example, Acuvue Moist Multifocal contact lenses offers 183 unique designs. That means the technology has improved for a more bespoke, yet easier fit, as the complexity of finding the right design of the 183 is managed by the simple-to-use fitting guide. It also means improved chair time, so there shouldn’t be concerns in running over allocated appointment slots.

Multifocal contact lenses and glasses shouldn’t have to be an either-or choice. Most patients are best suited using both. By being proactive as eye care professionals and letting patients trial multifocal lenses, we can break down barriers and reinforce that presbyopia doesn’t mean a life change.

Robyn Marsden is an optometrist and professional affairs consultant for Johnson & Johnson Vision. 

What do you prescribe for presbyopia?
  • I typically prescribe glasses

    1 25%
  • I typically suggest a combination of glasses and contact lenses, excluding multifocals

    0 0%
  • I typically suggest a combination of glasses and contact lenses, including multifocals

    3 75%
  • I offer something else

    0 0%