Many people find that they need some type of corrective lenses as they get older. Presbyopia, which causes farsightedness is increasingly common in people over the age of 40 and can often be addressed with the use of corrective lenses.

Contact lenses are a popular alternative to eyeglasses. If you have never had them before, you might be interested to learn that there are several different types of contact lenses to consider. The one that is best for you will depend on the type of correction your vision requires and the specific characteristics of your eyes.

Both Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses are available in soft yet rigid “Gas Permeable” materials. You can also find them in hybrid contact lenses or as disposable lenses.

Some contact lens manufacturers offer multifocal contact lenses that are made from a special silicone hydrogel material. The advantage with these contact lenses is that they tend to let in more oxygen which makes them more comfortable. They are increasingly popular in extended wear and daily wear contact lenses.

What Is The Difference Between Multifocal & Bifocal Contact Lenses?

As the name implies, bifocal contact lenses replicate bifocal eyeglasses. These lenses have two different powers to let you focus up close as well as far away. Multifocal lenses are essentially bifocal contact lenses with an additional power to help correct another vision abnormality.

How Do Multifocal Contact Lenses Work?

There are a few different types of “Designs” of multifocal contact lenses. The one that is best for you will depend on what specifically needs to be addressed to properly correct your vision.

Simultaneous Vision

This is a multifocal contact lens that helps the individual see far in certain regions and near in other. They are available in aspheric and concentric designs. Your eye doctor will help you understand which is best for you.

A Concentric Multifocal Contact Lens

Can be made from either soft or rigid gas permeable materials. This is a type of simultaneous design multifocal lens. The upper and center region tends to have the power to see distant objects. They typically have two concentric power rings near the pupil region of the contact lens which helps your vision to better adapt to changing light conditions.

An Aspheric Multifocal Contact Lenses

Is designed to replicate progressive eyeglasses, where there is a gradual change in power from near to far with no noticeable lines in the lens. This type of simultaneous multifocal contact lens might take a little while for you to get used to, as your visual system learns to select the correct power for the moment. Aspherical multifocal contact lenses are popular with individuals who have presbyopia.

Segmented Vision

This is a rigid gas permeable multifocal lens that replicates trifocal eyeglasses. The center and top portion have the power to see far, while the lower portion acts as the lower portion of a bifocal lens for magnifying closeup objects.

Segmented bifocal contacts replicate bifocal eyeglass lenses and are typically made from a rigid gas permeable material. They have two power segments, with a noticeable line separating the near and far focusing regions. You will gradually need to train your eyes or get in the habit of looking through the correct area for the distance you want to focus at.

This type of multifocal contact lens can be designed to stay in a specific position while your eye moves behind the lens. They tend to have a smaller diameter than a lot of other soft contact lenses. They rely on a thin layer of tears near the edge of your eyelid to stay in place when you look downward.

Your eye doctor might also be able to prescribe you custom trifocal segmented multifocal contact lenses. This includes a small ribbon-shaped segment to provide you with intermediate vision.

Bifocal Contact Lenses

As the name implies, bifocal contact lenses work a lot like bifocal eyeglasses. As such they have been a popular alternative form of corrective lenses for years. Though some people found them frustrating and sometimes uncomfortable.

Fortunately, new advancements in contact lens materials and manufacturing have helped improve bifocal contact lenses to make them more comfortable and more effective for people who need help focusing from far to near.

Other Vision Issues That Can Be Corrected With Contact Lenses

There are a few special situations and vision issues that might be corrected by the strategic use of multifocal or bifocal contact lenses.


Monovision is a condition where one eye happens to be farsighted to some degree and the other is nearsighted to some degree. To address this your eye doctor will diagnose the degree of difference between the two eyes and provide you with the correct prescription to improve both.

Modified Monovision

This is a more pronounced form of monovision where a multifocal lens is work on one eye to improve the ability to focus near and far, while another contact lens is prescribed for the other eye. This is sometimes an alternative to wearing progressive eyeglasses.


Mild residual astigmatism or a similar type of refractive error in vision might be corrected with multifocal contact lenses. Though this isn’t necessarily true for all cases. Some people with astigmatism issues might need prescription eyeglasses with progressive lenses. This is especially true if you have issues driving at night.

Trial Contact Lenses

For some people taking the plunge into wearing contact lenses for the first time as an alternative to eyeglasses might want to start with disposable trial contact lenses. Some eye doctors will provide you with trial contact lenses at a discounted rate to see if you will be comfortable with them. This is a cheaper alternative than getting prescription contact lenses, only to find out that you don’t like them and want to switch to prescription eyeglasses.


Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses have certainly advanced by leaps and bounds. While contact lenses may have started out as a possible alternative to eyeglasses they have since evolved into an innovative way to address a wide range of vision problems. After a thorough eye exam, your eye doctor can help you choose the best type of contact lenses for you.