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Multifocal contact lenses, also known as Varifocal contact lenses, are designed to correct the effects of presbyopia, they do this by using multiple prescription powers in one lens and they work similar to varifocal spectacles to allow you to focus on objects at varying distances.

Whether you are short sighted (Myopic) or longsighted (Hypermetropic), as you age your eyes find it more difficult to focus close up, that’s why so many older people wear reading glasses, but getting old is no reason to give up your contact lenses.

Traditionally, once a contact lens wearer reached about 45 years of age and starts to have problems reading with their contact lenses in, the only option for the Optometrist was to prescribe reading glasses to be worn over the contact lenses - hardly an ideal solution, when the whole point of contact lenses is NOT to wear glasses! 

To address this issue, and to provide customers with a convenient way to read with their contact lenses, without having to wear glasses over the top, all of the major contact lens companies like Johnson & Johnson and Alcon put huge amounts of money into the research and development of Multifocal contact lenses. 

Manufacturers worked on the innovative technical processes to incorporate two separate  powers - distance and reading powers - into ONE contact lens.

The result of all this research was that in 1998 Ciba Vision (now Alcon) were the first to release a daily disposable multifocal contact lens - Focus Daily Progressives -

The research didn’t stop there, manufacturers soon started to incorporate the advanced silicone hydrogel material to bring a wide range of Multifocal contact lenses on to the market, such as Johnson and Johnson’s  1 Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal and Alcons Air Optix Multifocal Plus HydraGlyde

Unfortunately you cannot just switch to Multifocal contact lenses, they require a specific prescription, they can be more complex to get the powers exactly right, and it is strongly recommended that you have a full sight test and multifocal contact lens trial with your Optometrists before buying these lenses. Even a small error in distance or reading powers can make it difficult to see optimally with multifocal lenses.

You may find that although multifocal contact lenses are as comfortable as your regular contact lenses, you will need to allow a little time to adjust using them, many people take just a few days, others take a couple of weeks and a few people find they can’t adapt to them at all.

You will notice a few differences in your multifocal contact lens prescription compared to your regular prescription, this is because a multifocal contact lens prescription needs to indicate the amount of additional power required, this is normally referred to as the Add power - this can either be a number preceded with a  sign, i.e +1.25 or may be indicated as Low, Med or High, you may also see a N or D, this stands for Addition Dominance and is an indication of which eye requires Near and which Dominant powers.

All contact lenses prescriptions require the measurements for

  • Sphere - Power of the lens and is preceded by a + or minus depending if you are long sighted or short sighted
  • BC - Base curve of the lens
  • Dia - Diameter of the lens

A prescription for Multifocal Contact lenses will also include

  • Add - the amount of additional power required
    And may include 
  • Dominance - which eye requires near or dominant power

Your Multifocal contact lens prescription will look similar to this, but may differ slightly depending on the brand of contact lens prescribed.

Multifocal Contact Lens Prescription

Name of Contact LensBCDIASPHADDD or N
Left Eye8.614.0-2.25*+1.50D
Right Eye8.614.0-1.75*1.50N

*If you are long sighted this will preceded by a + sign and if you are neither short or long sighted the value will be 0.00
**D or N is not required or all multifocal contact lens prescriptions.

Key Points

For People who need Reading glasses but don’t want to use them.

Great for making you look younger for longer.

Available as daily, monthly and extended wear lenses.

Buying contact lenses online from is both easy and convenient, no need for trips to your Optometrist to collect your lenses, they are shipped directly to your door in recyclable packaging. Order what you need when you need it. No build up of unused lenses. With over 90% of lenses in stock, most orders arrive within just 24 hours of ordering.

Types of Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses are available in a wide range of fittings and can correct short sightedness and long sightedness, they are available as

  • Regular Hydrogel Contact Lenses - made from gel-like, water containing polymers, enabling the contact lenses to be extremely thin and malleable. See Dailies AquaComfort Plus Multifocal
  • Silicone Hydrogel Contact lenses - the addition of silicone allows more oxygen to reach the cornea, creating a safer, healthier contact lens (2). See Air Optix Multifocal Plus HydraGlyde

They are also available in different wearing modes

  • Daily Disposable Contact Lenses
  • Daily contact lenses are intended to be worn for a single day and then thrown out each evening, which makes these the easiest contact lenses to adjust to and the healthiest option for your eyes. See 1 Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal
  • Monthly Disposable Contact Lenses
    Monthly contact lenses are designed to be worn on a daily basis up to one month, they require the user to remove them each evening, clean and store them in contact lens solution overnight before rinsing them and inserting them each morning. See Proclear Multifocal
  • Extended Wear Contact Lenses
    Also referred to as continuous wear contact lenses, have been designed to be worn continuously - that's even when you’re sleeping- from between 7,14 and up to 30 days, depending on the type of contact lens and the recommendation of your Optometrist. See Biofinity Multifocal

Our Customers Top 5 Multifocal Contact Lenses

1 Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal With LACREON technology contain a moisturising substance that helps the contact lenses retain moisture from morning to late evening. Made from breathable etafilcon A, with a unique, eye inspired back-curve design to help keep the lenses in place. 
Our customers award them  4.5*

Dailies AquaComfort Plus Multifocal feature a Precision Profile Design for clear vision but also blink-activated moisture for outstanding comfort, refreshing your eyes after every blink.
Our customers award them 5*

Purevision multifocals are a silicone hydrogel contact lens so have been approved for overnight wear**
Made from a unique material called AerGel that lets natural levels of oxygen reach your eyes so that they stay comfortable and healthy.
Our customers award them 4.6*

Proclear 1 Day Multifocal contain PC Technology, a material that attracts and maintains moisture, especially useful in multifocal contact lenses, as presbyopic contact lens wearers often find their eyes get drier with age.
Made to imitate the cells of the human eye resulting in a more natural visual experience.
Our customers award them 5*

**It is advisable to check with your eye care professional as to suitability before wearing overnight  contact lenses.

How Much Do Multifocals Contact Lenses Cost

Multifocals are slightly more expensive than regular single prescription contact lenses, this is due to their complex nature of manufacture, as they need to correct multiple vision issues within one lens, plus the extended time required to get the right fit for the customer.
The price you pay will depend on the type of lens you wear, for example hydrogel or Silicone hydrogel, how many lenses are in a box, plus whether you wear dailies, monthlies or extended wear.
Daily disposable Multifocal contact lenses start at £28.75 that's £57.50 per month or just £1.91 per day, and monthly disposables start at £46.99 for 6 lenses so that's £15.66 per month or 52p per day, not including solutions. You can buy monthly contact lenses with just 3 lenses in the box which do work a little more expensive but means you can payout less but more often.

Why Are Multifocals Contact Lenses Different To Regular Contact Lenses

Regular contact lenses are designed to correct one vision problem such as short sightedness or long sightedness but multifocal contact lenses are designed to correct multiple visual needs, near, middle and distance, they eliminate the need for reading glasses as you get older.

Multifocal contact lenses come in two main designs


  • Concentric - having your regular prescription in the centre and then multiple concentric outer rings alternating between near and distance corrective powers. 

Concentric mutifocal contact lens

  • Aspheric design  - has your regular prescription in the middle and then a slow transition of powers gradually changes as you move away from the centre.

Aspheric multfocal contact lens

Your Optometrist will select the multifocal contact lens best suited for you. Many people adjunct to multifocal within a few days, some may take a couple of weeks and a small proportion of people are not able to tolerate them.

Getting The Best Out Of Your Multifocals Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses can take a little longer to fit and adapt to, be patient and you will reap the rewards
You may need 2 or 3 visits to your Optometrist to get the best fit and vision, then you will need to be patient, when first worn people can experience 3D vision or shadows, but this normally disappears once your brain adapts to the new way of seeing things.

Multifocal contacts lenses do not require any special handling, so treat them as you would any other contact lens, make sure you wear them, and care for them, as recommended by your Optometrist, so if you are wearing

Daily disposable contact lenses -you can simply throw the lenses out each evening and insert a fresh new pair each morning.
Monthly or Two disposable contact lenses - need to be removed every night, cleaned with an approved contact lens solution and stored in a contact lens case with fresh solution using this procedure:


  • Wash and thoroughly dry your hands before handling your contact lenses
  • Remove your contact lens from it’s storage case, apply a few drops of your recommended solution on the front and back of the lens and rub gently with your index finger
  • Insert your contact lens
  • Empty your contact lens case of solution and let it air dry


  • Wash and thoroughly dry your hands before handling your contact lenses
  • Remove contact lens from your eye, apply a few drops of your recommended solution on the front and back of the lens and rub gently with your index finger
  • Store the lens in your contact lens case and submerge with fresh solution

Dispose two weekly contact lenses after 14 days and monthly contact lenses after 30 days

Extended wear contact lenses - remember to set a reminder to remove your lenses after 30 days, or less, if recommended by your Optometrist.

Best Multifocals Contact Lenses For

Sensitive EyesDry EyesActive LifestyleBest ValueBest UV Protection
Biofinity Multifocal1 Day Acuvue Moist MultifocalDailies Aqua Comfort Plus MultifocalPureVision Multifocal1 Day Acuvue Moist Multifocal


Do Multifocal Contact Lenses Work

Yes. Multifocal contact lenses lenses are normally a great choice for people with presbyopia, once you have become accustomed to wearing multifocal lenses, their ability to allow the wearer to see focus on objects at a wide range of distances eliminates the need for reading glasses.

How Long Does It Take To Adjust To Multifocal Contact Lenses

Multifocal contact lenses can take a little longer to fit and adjust to, if you are patient you  should be able to reap the rewards.

You may need 2 or 3 visits to your Optometrist to get the best fit and vision, then you will need to be patient, people can initially experience 3D vision or shadows, but this normally disappears in a few days or a couple of weeks, once your brain adapts to the new way of seeing things.

Are Multifocals and Varifocals The Same Thing

Yes. Multifocal and Varifocal contact lenses are the same thing, they contain multiple prescriptions in the same lens to correct the effect of presbyopia.
As a general rule contact lenses are referred to as Multifocals as they use concentric circles of multiple prescription powers or a gradual transition of powers from the center to the outer edge to allow the wearer to see at various distances. Whereas glasses are often referred to as Varifocals or Progressives as they use a gradual progression of powers from the top to the bottom allowing you to focus at various distances depending on what part of the lens you are looking for.


1. Hydrogel vs Silicone Hydrogel Lense Author:Dr. Russel Lazarus
Published: November 4, 2021
2. Based on clinical studies with AIR OPTIX® AQUA contact lenses.

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
John qualified from Aston University in 1980, he has authored for over the last 20 years, bringing his expertise to visitors to the site and providing valuable optical advice to customer questions throughout the years. He has been featured by several leading publications including The Express and ITProPortal