Can Contacts Replace My Progressive & Computer Glasses?
August 13, 2009 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm considering wearing contact lenses again in lieu of eyeglasses to make working with camera viewfinders easier. I've worn glasses since i was a kid. Got the usual array of problems: Nearsightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia. Currently wear progressive lenses in my glasses. However, I find reading with my progressive lenses is unpleasant, so I usually take them off. I use a separate pair of glasses for computer work. I was fitted with a test pair of soft monovision lenses last week. They're not going to work. Close vision -- within arm's reach -- is unacceptable. I told the clinician I wanted contacts to provide vision correction at least as good as my glasses. I want any contacts I wear to work at distance vision, close vision, reading, driving, computer work, etc. She replied that I wouldn't get that with contacts. Is she right?
posted by justcorbly to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think she may be right. I switch between my glasses (bi-focals) and contacts depending on my mood, and find my vision with glasses markedly better. On my doctor's advice, I've taken to wearing reading glasses with my contacts for close-up vision. It's just the price of aging, I suppose.
posted by JeffK at 11:34 AM on August 13, 2009

In my experience, yes, she's probably right. I tried gas permeable hard lenses, which gave me good vision but horrible discomfort that I wasn't able to get used to after six months; then I tried soft lenses, which were more comfortable but didn't give me good enough vision correction. I'm back to glasses now.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:35 AM on August 13, 2009

She is correct. You would wear reading glasses with your contacts for reading. I have lasik and I still need reading glasses.
posted by Zambrano at 11:47 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just a thought:
My boss has one eye corrected for near vision and one eye corrected for far vision (with contact lenses).
She said the adjustment period drove her nuts, but now she loves it.

Perhaps something like this might work for you?
posted by j at 11:50 AM on August 13, 2009

You can get multifocal lenses that offer different adjustments depending of distance, if you find a combination that works well for you, then celebrate.

With glasses the lens is relatively far away from your eye, so (un)consciously you move your head slightly, and you can achieve a perfect adjustment for the task at hand with your smooth progressive lenses. That's not quite possible with contact lenses, so you have to have them perfect because you can't get quite the same granularity in operation. So you tend to have a strength, near or far when wearing them.

The benefit these-days is disposables and the manufacturing techniques have bought the prices down into normal people land-- so you're able to try one for a couple of weeks, then jump to a slightly different configuration until you (hopefully) find one that ticks all the right boxes.

On the subject of the camera-- is the diopter (talking SLR's) not good enough to adjust to match your vision? I'm only short-sighted, so perhap it works differently for those with problems in both directions, but for me, with the right diopter setting on my camera, I have perfect eyesight and can work without glasses, or contacts.
posted by Static Vagabond at 11:50 AM on August 13, 2009

I don't know why you'd expect monovision lenses to correct your presbyopia.

In any case, whoever you were talking to presumably knows what they are talking about. However, there do exist toric progressive contact lenses, which is almost certainly what you want if they will work for you. For even better vision correction, you could get rigid gas permeable progressive lenses, although fewer people go that route as the lenses are less comfortable.
posted by TypographicalError at 11:53 AM on August 13, 2009

That is correct. My mother and aunt both have bifocal contact lenses and need reading glasses to read when wearing them.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:28 PM on August 13, 2009

I just read about a new technology for eyeglasses that lets you adjust the focus with a slider on the bridge. They are kind of weird looking, but might be useful for your case. They are called Trufocals.
posted by clearlydemon at 1:03 PM on August 13, 2009

I have the same problem and was thinking of trying these.
posted by violette at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2009

Both my parents use Acuvue Bifocal contacts and are able to use them for distance and close vision. They love them. Maybe ask if you can try a test pair of them if they are appropriate for you or see if you can find a different optometrist who you're more comfortable with.
posted by zachlipton at 2:01 PM on August 13, 2009

You already have three different glasses situations (two pairs of glasses plus taking them off for reading). I don't see how one pair of contacts is going to somehow simulate all three situations, particularly given the limits of contact lenses with regards to presbyopia (see the contacts plus reading glasses situations described above). Don't get me wrong, I adore my contact lenses (for myopia + astigmatism) and know others who have used bifocal contacts very successfully so you should keep trying different things, but replacing three sets of vision correction with one pair of contacts isn't going to happen.
posted by shelleycat at 2:08 PM on August 13, 2009

On the subject of the camera-- is the diopter (talking SLR's) not good enough to adjust to match your vision?

Presuming a camera works like a microscope or binoculars, this doesn't help if you have non-trivial astigmatism. There's no way the eyepeice can adjust for that without being custom made and it can be really disorienting if the astigmatism isn't adjusted.
posted by shelleycat at 2:13 PM on August 13, 2009

Clearydemon, that sliding focus gizmo is interesting, but I suspect it isn't for me.

Shelleycat, my sight with progressive lenses is very good, almost 20/20. I use computer glasses simply to avoid thowing my head back to look through the bottom portion of the lenses. I take them off to read not because I can't see the page clearly, but because I like the freedom of eye movement without them. I.e., I can move up and down the page without moving my head, which is necessary to constantly reposition the slice of the progressives I need to use for reading. To a distane of about 18 inches, my vision without the glasses is as good as with them.
posted by justcorbly at 3:37 PM on August 13, 2009

So you're changing or removing your glasses to avoid being forced to look through one bit of the lens. But it's much harder to choose which part of the lens you look through when the lens is stuck to your eye so you'd be reinforcing the need to change glasses, not eliminating it. This is why people add reading glasses, it's very hard to get far away and up close vision from one pair of contact lenses. So I'd say you're even less likely to find everything you want with a single pair of lenses.

You should still be trying bifocal or progressive contacts of course, your current flavour of correction can never come from monofocals like you already tried so there are still options to persue. At the very least you should have been trying torics for the astigmatism although I don't know how that interacts with the presbyopia. Just be open to the idea of adding glasses or going back to glasses for certain situations. Maybe being a little more realistic will help your optometrist work with you to find a solution.
posted by shelleycat at 4:53 PM on August 13, 2009

I had exactly the same experience as infinitywaltz and have also given up on contacts. Foo.
posted by Lexica at 7:07 PM on August 13, 2009

I had many of the same issues with my contacts. When my distance vision was corrected, I couldn't read without reading glasses, couldn't read my iphone, or even see my watch. Without my contacts in, I can read just fine but can't see clearly more than about 2 feet out. I tried the "one eye for near vision, one eye for far" and it didn't work for me. My eye doctor told me that some people's brains just can't adjust.

Here is the solution that has worked for me. My eye doctor had never heard of anybody wanting to do this before but was willing to give it a try. I wear the multi-focal lenses but at a strength that UNDERCORRECTS my vision to the point that I can still read up close. I can see my computer screen just fine. My distance vision is still corrected enough for ordinary daily walking around life. Once we found the exact prescription that I felt worked the best, the doctor then gave me a prescription for glasses that I wear OVER my contacts mainly only for driving, or sometimes at the movies. I have a pair of sunglasses with the little bit of extra correction and a pair of cheap glasses for those few times I need them to drive at night or at the movies. Legally I don't need them to drive but it makes it easier to read highway signs. This has worked so much better for me than the reading glasses over contacts solution. I would've been wearing sunglasses anyway most of the time so it doesn't bother me to have to wear them over the contacts.
posted by tamitang at 8:48 PM on August 13, 2009

I can tell you from experience that not all optometrists/opticians are well versed in contact lens fitting – especially for multi-focal. You may find that there is a multi-focal solution for you, but you might have to try several types of lenses. I would look for optometrists who specialize on hard to fit contact lens patients and dealing with presbyopia. There is a lot of misinformation in the industry about what works, what doesn't, and who are good candidates for any solution. It's hard to know who to trust, but finding someone who has extensive experience with multi-focals will get you half way there.
posted by qwip at 12:40 AM on August 14, 2009

Qwip, Shelley -- I'm working with my ophthalmologist, not an optometrist. We spent more than 90 minutes on my initial visit trying a variety of lenses. I was probably incorrect when I referred to the lenses I'm testing as "monovision". They are some sort of multifocal deal with one lense providing near vision and the other distance vision. My experience with those lenses parallels Tamitang's.

I think I'm being realistic about contacts. That's why I posed the question. I previously wore contacts for a long period of time. I find wearing and caring for them to be a bigger hassle than wearing glasses. My motivation is to make using camera viewfinders easier. But, since I am otherwise happy with my glasses, I'm not prepared to take on the hassle of conacts unless they provide an across-the-board solution, eliminating the need to use any eyeglasses. The cliniican working with me tells me that soft lenses likely won't provide that, but that most wearers accept some diminuition of vision compared to glasses. I'd rather not. She acknowledged that gas permeables provide better vision, but most people find them uncomfortable and irritating.

I'm checking on contacts now because I need to get new eyeglass lenses. Since that's an expense of several hundred dollars, I thought it was a good time to look into contacts.
posted by justcorbly at 5:26 AM on August 14, 2009

I would strongly consider paying a visit to a good optometrist experienced in contact lens fitting, as qwip suggests. Ophthalmologists are fabulous at what they do, but for the most part, this does not involve contact lenses. A good optometrist who does this a lot might be able to get you fitted for a pair of multi-focals that will get you good near and far vision, or even an acceptable compromise solution as tamitang suggests. I have a great one here in San Francisco, but I'm sure other MiFites can help you find one wherever you are.
posted by zachlipton at 11:32 AM on August 14, 2009

Yes, seriously consider going to an Optometrist. This is one industry where being "further" up the education ladder (Medical Doctor vs. Doctor of Optometry) does not equate with better knowledge or care for vision correction, as zachlipton points out. Your Ophthalmologist is specialized for treating disease of the eyes and surgery. Your Optometrist is specialized for correcting vision.

I've done a decent amount of research in this field on patient care and doctor knowledge/approach and what you want and need is a Optometrist that specializes in contact lenses, specifically for presbyopia (as that's the tricky part of your vision correction). If you really want to find the best options for your vision, go to an Optometrist who specializes in difficult contact lens cases. I don't know how to stress this enough.
posted by qwip at 12:22 PM on August 19, 2009

« Older I really need a lot more butter in my diet   |   Fonts Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.