My arms aren’t long enough! Do I have to wear reading glasses?

There comes a time when we've all had enough birthdays to start to notice that reading small print is getting harder. This is very normal, but doesn't stop it being very disturbing and upsetting, especially if you've otherwise had perfect vision your whole life. This condition called presbyopia, where our arms get too short ;), is where the focussing lens in the eye doesn't have enough flexibility to see close, and we all end up requiring some help from glasses or contact lenses to magnify small print. Presbyopia usually starts in our early-to-mid 40's and the changes in close up vision slow down to stability in our mid 50's.

Not interested in carrying glasses around to read all the time? Many people are in the same boat, and love the fantastic technology in multifocal contact lenses!

Whether you have perfect distance vision and only need a little help reading books, or need both far and near vision correction – multifocal contact lens may be a great tool for you! The best thing is – once they’re applied in the morning, you can forget about your reading difficulties all day!

Soft contact lenses are made from hydrogel or silicone hydrogel and are very thin and flexible. They sit comfortably over the clear dome of the eye with precise parameters to correct your prescription. There are options of daily disposable, fortnightly, monthly and custom-made lenses.  The best contact lens for you is determined based on your lifestyle and preferences, as well as your current eye health and prescription. We may also offer a few contact lens options to trial to determine the best contact lens for your eyes.

Contact lenses are a popular vision correction tool as the newer materials today provide excellent comfort. In fact, many people comment they forget the lenses are on their eye until it’s time to remove them before bed!

So how do multifocal contact lenses work?

The lenses have built in rings of differing prescriptions which allow you to see both far and near. (1) The centre of the lens can be fully corrected for distance vision and the rings on the outside gradually shift to near vision (common in monthly multifocal contact lenses), or the centre of the lens corrects near vision and the rings shift to distance vision (common in daily disposable multifocal contact lenses). This type of lens does require an adaptation period for the brain to get used to focusing through different zones of the lens. (1) Due to increased pupil size in lower light settings, some of us may notice haloes around lights when driving at night, so we recommend ensuring good adaptation before driving in your new contact lenses. (2) Most of us are great candidates for this technology.  Once you have adapted, you have clear vision at all distances without having to switch to different pairs of glasses or may even avoid glasses altogether!

Are there other contact lens options to correct my reading?

Yes - monovision contact lenses. For this option, the lenses are single-focus (set for distance or near focus). You wear a different prescription for each eye -  one eye can be used to see clearly in the distance and the other eye can be used for near work. Monovision also requires an initial adaptation period for the brain, and for some people may offer sharper clarity than multifocal contact lenses. (3) This setup decreases depth perception however, thus monovision may not be suitable for all, particularly those of us doing significant reading (such as computer work). (3)

If you’re interested in discussing contact lens options, book an appointment with one of our optometrists on (07) 3210 1822. Keep in mind contact lens technologies have developed rapidly. Many people who were previously told contact lenses were not suitable for their prescription, can often be fit with newer technologies available today.


1.Woods J, Woods C, Fonn D. (2015). Optometry and Vision Science. 92:2:175-182.
2.Wahl S, Fornoff L, Ochakovski GA, and Ohlendorf, A. (2018). Disability glare in soft multifocal contact lenses. Contact Lens and Anterior Eye; 41(2):175-179.
3.Evans BJ (2007). Monovision: a review; 27(5):417-39. 


About Natalie

Natalie Buckman is a clinical optometrist, educator,  professional leader and ophthalmic medicines prescriber, who enjoys exploring the world and hitting the dance floor in her spare time.