Decision Guide: Progressive Glasses vs. Multifocal Contacts


In this article, I will show you the differences between multifocal contacts in for soft, gas permeable rigid contact lenses and the typical progressive glasses.

Multifocal Contact LensesProgressive Glasses
Blurry Sides in near ZoneNoYes
Halo Effects at NightYesNo
Reading Above My HeadYesNo
Small Reading AreaNoYes
Changing Head Positions to ReadNoYes
Cleaning EffortIn the morning and evening two minutesA few times during the day
Do They Work in Bad Lighting Most of them not reallyYes
Could i see straight lines bendedNoYes
Is the bottom blurryNoYes
Can I see the PC screen while maintaining a natural head and neck position.Yesprobably not if you are over 50 years old (you need to go with PC glassses in thoses cases)

Multifocal contact lenses and progressive glasses have both their unique advantages. We will have a closer look at the possible designs. What you can see on the left are the options you get when buying multifocal contacts. In this summing up picture below, you can find the obvious differences between glasses and contacts for presbyopes.

As you can see here you find a huge variety of multifocal possibilities on the left and just one general design on the right. Every lens and the glasses can be customized to make some of the colored zones bigger or smaller to make them fit your needs.

For the contacts, every prescription from far to near needs to be put on a really small surface. Compared to those lenses in glasses, you have a lot of more surface to fit your prescription in it. If you look through the upper part of your glasses you have a really wide and sharp field that is designed to make it as sharp as it can get.

However, if you have your multifocal lenses on your eyes, you have everything directly on your eye whether you are looking in the distance far away from you or in the reading distance. That can lead to a slight loss in contrast. Most people say this is more noticeable in soft multifocal lenses compared to rigid gas permeable multifocal lenses. Some people may also describe it as a minimal blur.

One of the biggest differences is the dependency on the light with multifocal contacts compared to progressive glasses. You saw the pictures above with the different colors in the lenses that described what prescription was in which part of the lens. This works mostly fine if it is bright outside but when the sun sets your pulis will get bigger to let more light in.

This leads by all means to a change of the lenses prescription. Because you are looking now through other areas. Your pupils changed. And if they do (depending on your contact lens design) you suddenly got more reading power in it which leads to halo effects in most cases. That does not mean contacts are bad and you should not use them. But you may be able to wear them if the lighting conditions are really good.

On the left, you can see a very wide open pupil. On the right, the pupil size is smaller. Both would need a totally different contact lens design. You could probably not fit the same contact lens design on those both different eyes and make the wearers both happy. Those things do not make that kind of difference in wearers of progressive glasses.

Oftentimes pupils are not in the middle of your eye. Which means with bigger contacts a decentered reading zone would be great. But just very few multifocal lenses have this feature. With progressive glasses, a lot more manufacturers can place the reading area in the perfect place for your reading needs. This is really important if you have a wider or a more narrow pupilar distance.

Progressive Glasses or Multifocal Contacts

As you now know about the differences I would not go with one or the other. Just get both. Just think about it. Progressive glasses can make a great companion in your daily activities. If you are for example in a room with an AC and your tear film is not as perfect, you will experience dry eyes with soft multifocal lenses. Maybe not as much with rigid lenses but you will have far more comfort of vision with your glasses.

And when you are about to get sporty and you want to play tennis your progressive glasses will probably make you perform worse than with contacts. Straight lines can appear bent to you. The ball that approaches you with high speeds you can not gauge its position as perfectly as with your contacts. And if you want a pause and you want to see something on your mobile you can have the screen sharp and clear with your contacts.

But there are both situations in which they will fail. And that is why I recommend both. They supplement each other pretty well. And as good your contacts maybe there will be some time in which you can not wear them. As soon as those situations come you will be pleased to have another option.

Getting Used to Multifocal Contacts vs Progressive Glasses

If you are new to either one of the systems it can take a little time to know where they work and where not. Depending on the lenses you have you must get over foreign body sensations. They can be barely noticeable for some people and feel like an eyelash on the eye for other people. With smaller rigid lenses you will face this sensation more. Because in most cases they move more on your eye to allow your eye to look through the different fields. You can see this in the short clip:

As you can see here if you look down the lens gets pushed up a little by your lower eyelid. therefor you can look through another area of the lens. This enables you to read more easily. And when you look up the lens drifts down a little and sets centered to allow for optimal distance vision.

This system works extremely well in rigid contacts. You can expect a really sharp reading. The clarity can be comparable to progressive glasses. With soft contacts you can also get good results but when our customers switch to rigid lenses from the soft ones they usually recognize immediately that visual acuity is just a little higher.

As you can see in this short clip you need to look through certain areas to be able to read or look into the distance.

With the change in prescription people usually, end up wearing progressive glasses at some point in time. The tear film is not what it used to be so the contact lenses you wear may give you more discomfort the more you age. However, it also can be a great solution for years to come. Maybe you just just use the additionally while running or in the fitness center for a few hours to get the benefit of the lenses.

Costs for Multifocal Contact Lenses vs Progressive Glasses

You can get both really cheap starting with multifocal contact lenses at about 50€ for 6 months on the internet. But I would highly suggest you get to a known professional. This will definitely multiply the costs in some cases easily over 700$ for a pair. But let´s face it, If your eyes are not checked with every detail you definitely do not know which lens to pick.

Here you find an example below which shows you when something goes wrong. Below you can see a multifocal scleral lens. In the middle, you can see a thin circle positioned more to the left and you can see an orange ring. The ring shows us the reading power but it should be sitting symmetrically around the pupil. It just is out of the center and would not give you the vision you expected. This can be corrected with the right contacts. But an online shop will not find a solution for you. The professional eye care specialist can.

If we are talking about the costs with progressive glasses it is pretty much the same case as with the contacts. Yes, you can get them cheap. The price range is huge and starts from 100€ up to over a 1000$ easily. But you really get what you pay for. The funny thing is most people will never know the difference in how much better their vision or comfort could be. Because the did not try the solutions. It is definitely not always necessary to go with the high-end choices especially if you are around 40 years old. But the more you age the more the lenses or glasses need to perform for you. And then the better solution could make the difference for you.

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