Vision Over 40
Many older Americans have dry eyes that can range from mild to severe. And if you are 50 or older and female, your chance of developing a more severe form of dry eye syndrome is even higher.
Studies show that about 7.8 percent of women in this age group have dry eyes, compared with 4.7 percent of men age 50 and older.*
Women who have undergone menopause may experience disrupted chemical signals that help maintain a stable tear film. Resulting inflammation also can lead to decreased tear production and dry eye.
Some theories indicate that a decline in the hormone androgen could be an underlying cause of dry eye in older women.
No one likes to advertise their age — especially 40-something adults who start having trouble reading fine print. Thankfully, today’s progressive lenses make it impossible for others to tell you’ve reached “that bifocal age.”
Progressive lenses, sometimes called “no-line bifocals,” give you a more youthful appearance by eliminating the visible lines found in bifocal (and trifocal) lenses.
But beyond being just a multifocal lens with no visible lines, progressive lenses offer other advantages as well: primarily, the ability to see at all distances, including at arm’s length for computer use and up close for reading.
Bifocal contact lenses are designed to provide good vision to people who have a condition called presbyopia.
The main sign that you’re developing presbyopia is that you need to hold menus, newspapers and other reading material farther from your eyes in order to see it clearly.
Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses come in both soft materials and rigid gas permeable (GP) materials. They are also available as hybrid contact lenses. Some can be worn on a disposable basis. That means you have the convenience of throwing the lenses out at specified intervals (even daily, in some cases) and replacing them with fresh, new lenses.
Several lens manufacturers offer multifocal contact lenses made of silicone hydrogel material. These lenses allow significantly more oxygen to reach the cornea than conventional soft lenses for greater wearing comfort, and are available for both daily wear and extended wear.
Brands of multifocal silicone hydrogel contacts include Acuvue Oasys for Presbyopia (Vistakon), Air Optix Aqua Multifocal (Ciba Vision), Biofinity Multifocal (CooperVision) and PureVision Multi-Focal (Bausch + Lomb). Duette hybrid contact lenses use a silicone hydrogel skirt.
Do you need bifocals?
Some time after age 40, you will begin to notice the symptoms of presbyopia, including that feeling that your arms “aren’t long enough” to hold a newspaper or magazine at a position where you can read it clearly.
If you already wear prescription eyeglasses, this generally means you will need to begin wearing multifocal lenses to continue to see clearly at all distances.
While most presbyopes these days choose line-free progressive lenses, conventional bifocals and trifocals have some advantages over progressives. In particular, bifocal and trifocal lenses usually provide wider lens areas for reading and computer work than progressive lenses.
Also, there are many special-purpose bifocal and trifocal lens designs available, including special glasses for computers and for other tasks that require excellent intermediate and near vision.
Occupational bifocals and trifocals are special multifocal lenses that are designed for specific jobs or hobbies, but typically are not for everyday wear. They are special because of the unusual placement of the near, intermediate and far vision zones in the lenses, to make certain tasks easier.
When you develop presbyopia at around age 40, you lose the ability to focus properly at multiple distances. This means you may have special needs for eyewear that can help you see better if your job or hobby requires you to look overhead or read fine print all day.