Can You Wear Contacts and Glasses at the Same Time?

optometrist-giving-new-glasses

The short answer is yes, it is perfectly fine to wear contact lenses and reading glasses at the same time from a technical standpoint. However, this might not be the most efficient solution for vision correction.

In this article, we’ll explore the use of reading glasses with contact lenses, particularly for presbyopia, and how contact lenses can better address this common age-related vision problem more effectively.

What Is Presbyopia?

senior-lady-squinting-and-holding-newspaper-far-from-eyes

Presbyopia is a common age-related condition that affects the eye’s ability to focus on close objects. It typically becomes noticeable in people around the age of 40 and progresses gradually. Unlike nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, presbyopia is not caused by the shape of the eyeball but by the aging of the eye’s lens.

Symptoms

  • Difficulty reading small print or seeing objects up close
  • The need to hold reading material at arm’s length
  • Eye strain or headaches after reading or doing close-up work
  • Blurred vision at normal reading distance
  • Difficulty seeing in dim light

Causes and Risk Factors

Presbyopia occurs due to the hardening of the lens inside the eye, which becomes less flexible with age. This reduced flexibility makes it harder for the eye to focus on close objects. Several factors can contribute to the development and progression of presbyopia, including:

  • Age – The primary risk factor; most people experience presbyopia after age 40.
  • Genetics – A family history of presbyopia can increase one’s likelihood of developing the condition.
  • Medical Conditions – Certain conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and multiple sclerosis can contribute to presbyopia.
  • Medications – Some drugs, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and diuretics, can exacerbate presbyopia symptoms.

Common Treatment Options

While presbyopia cannot be prevented or reversed, there are several effective treatments to manage its symptoms.

  • Reading Glasses – Non-prescription readers can help with close-up tasks.
  • Prescription Glasses – Bifocal or progressive lenses can provide clear vision at different distances.
  • Contact Lenses – Multifocal or bifocal contact lenses are designed specifically for presbyopia. Monovision contact lenses, where one eye is corrected for distance and the other for near vision, can also be an option.
  • Surgery – Procedures such as LASIK, conductive keratoplasty, or lens implants may be considered for some individuals.
  • Lifestyle Adjustments – Using brighter lighting for reading and other close tasks can alleviate some of the strain caused by presbyopia.

Reading Glasses for Presbyopia

optometrist-giving-new-glasses

Reading glasses are specially designed eyeglasses that help people with presbyopia see close objects more clearly. They come in various strengths, which are measured in diopters, and are readily available in both prescription and non-prescription forms. These glasses are typically used for activities such as reading, sewing, or any close-up work.

How Reading Glasses Help With Presbyopia

Reading glasses work by magnifying the text or objects to make them easier to see. They compensate for the reduced ability of the eye’s lens to focus on close objects. By providing the additional focusing power needed, reading glasses allow the eye to relax and reduce strain when viewing nearby items. Below are the benefits of reading glasses:

  • Ease of Use – Reading glasses are simple to use and do not require a prescription if purchased over-the-counter.
  • Affordability – Non-prescription reading glasses are often inexpensive and can be purchased at drugstores or online.
  • Variety – Catering to different tastes and preferences, reading glasses come in a wide range of styles, strengths, and designs.
  • Immediate Solution – Reading glasses provide an instant solution to the difficulty of seeing close objects, which can be particularly useful for occasional use.

However, it’s worth noting that reading glasses:

  • Are “Single Use” – Reading glasses are designed only for close-up work and need to be taken off for distance vision, which can be inconvenient.
  • Are a Temporary Fix – They do not address other vision issues like nearsightedness or astigmatism. These conditions may require additional treatment.
  • Require Frequent Switching – For those who require both distance and near vision correction, switching between different pairs of glasses can be a hassle.
  • Are Not Customized – Over-the-counter glasses are not tailored to an individual’s prescription. As such, they might not provide the best visual clarity and comfort.

Wearing Reading Glasses With Contact Lenses

Wearing reading glasses with contact lenses can be particularly useful for individuals who wear contacts to correct their distance vision but still experience difficulty with near vision tasks. This approach allows for clear distance vision provided by the contacts while the glasses provide magnification for close-up work. Situations where this combination is beneficial include:

  • Reading – Whether it’s a book, newspaper, or digital screen, reading glasses can make the text clearer when wearing distance contact lenses.
  • Computer Work – Prolonged computer use can strain the eyes, and reading glasses can help reduce this strain by providing the right level of magnification.
  • Detailed Tasks – Activities such as sewing, crafting, or any work that requires fine detail can be made easier with the use of reading glasses over contact lenses.

If you must wear reading glasses as a contact lens wearer, do note the following to ensure you’re getting the most effective and comfortable vision correction possible:

  • Choose the Right Strength – Ensure the reading glasses have the correct diopter strength for your near vision needs. An eye care professional (ECP) can determine this.
  • Keep Them Handy – Carry your reading glasses with you, especially if you frequently switch between near and distance vision tasks.
  • Avoid Overuse – Only use reading glasses when necessary to avoid eye strain. Remove them when looking at distant objects.
  • Ensure Comfort – Make sure the reading glasses fit well and are comfortable to wear over your contact lenses. Poorly fitting glasses can cause discomfort and headaches.
  • Get Regular Eye Check-Ups – Maintain regular appointments with your ECP to ensure your prescription remains accurate and to monitor the health of your eyes.

Contact Lenses for Presbyopia

Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses are designed to correct presbyopia, providing clear vision at multiple distances. These lenses incorporate different zones of power to aid near, intermediate, and distance vision. The zones allow the wearer to transition smoothly between various focal points.

  • Bifocal Contact Lenses – These lenses have two distinct zones of vision correction: one for distance and one for near. The design can be similar to bifocal glasses, with a visible line separating the zones, or concentric rings of differing powers.
  • Multifocal Contact Lenses – These lenses have multiple zones of vision correction blended together, providing a more seamless transition between distances than bifocal contacts or reading glasses. The design can be concentric rings or aspheric, where the power gradually changes from the center to the edge.

Here’s a detailed comparison of some of the best multifocal contact lenses on the market:

BrandManufacturerWearing ScheduleReplacement ScheduleMaterialSpecial Features
AIR OPTIX AQUA MultifocalAlconDaily wear or up to 7 days of extended wearMonthlySilicone Hydrogel– Precision Profile® design
– SmartShield® Technology – TriComfort™ Technology
Biofinity multifocalCooperVisionDaily wear or up to 7 days of extended wearMonthlySilicone Hydrogel– Aquaform® Technology
– Balanced Progressive® Technology
ULTRA for PresbyopiaBausch + LombDaily wear or up to 7 days of extended wearMonthlySilicone Hydrogel– 3-Zone Progressive Design
– MoistureSeal Technology
ACUVUE OASYS for PresbyopiaJohnson & JohnsonDaily wear or up to 7 days of extended wearBi-weeklySilicone Hydrogel– Stereo Precision Technology
– HYDRACLEAR® PLUS Technology
DAILIES TOTAL1 MultifocalAlconDailyDailySilicone Hydrogel– Precision Profile design
– Water Gradient Technology
– SmarTears Technology

Which Presbyopia Treatment Is Best for You?

Choosing the right vision correction for presbyopia involves evaluating several key factors to ensure comfort, convenience, and effectiveness:

  • Lifestyle – Your daily activities significantly impact your vision needs. If you frequently switch between near and distance tasks, multifocal contact lenses may offer more convenience than alternating between contacts and reading glasses.
  • Comfort – Comfort is crucial for any vision correction method. Some people find contact lenses more comfortable than glasses, while others prefer the simplicity of using reading glasses only when needed.
  • Convenience – Consider how often you need to switch between near and distance vision. Multifocal contact lenses provide a seamless transition and eliminate the need to frequently put on and take off reading glasses.
  • Budget – Cost is another important factor. While multifocal contact lenses may have a higher initial cost, they can be more economical in the long run compared to regularly buying new reading glasses.
  • Eye Health – Maintaining optimal eye health and vision is essential. Regular check-ups with an ECP help ensure your eyes are healthy and your glasses or contact lens prescription is up-to-date.

Only an ECP can offer personalized advice based on your specific vision needs and lifestyle. They can conduct comprehensive eye exams to determine the best prescription and recommend suitable vision correction options. Regular consultations are essential to monitor your eye health and make necessary adjustments to your vision correction strategy.

Conclusion

While it is technically fine to wear contact lenses and reading glasses at the same time, it might not be the most efficient solution for vision correction. Exploring options such as multifocal contact lenses or specialized reading glasses with your eye care provider can help you find the best fit for your vision needs. Remember: regular consultations and a willingness to try different solutions can lead to the most comfortable and effective vision correction for presbyopia.