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Reading Contact Lens Prescription – Read Comfortably Without Glasses

By April 9, 2017Contacts Advice

We all know that some people need glasses to be able to read, but is it also possible to get a reading contact lens prescription? In this article, I will discuss the different ways you can use contact lenses in order to be able to read that problematic small text.

Reading Contact Lenses

At first, the solution may seem simple. If you need reading glasses to be able to read things up close, then just take the same prescription as the reading glasses and put them into contact lenses, right?

Well, no. Although this is technically possible to do, it is never done. The reason being that reading glasses can be put on and removed very quickly and effortlessly. You throw the reading glasses on when you need to read something, then put them back into your pocket when you’re done. And you might do this a dozen times a day or more.

Think of how that would work out with contact lenses. It would be completely impractical to put contact lenses on every time you wanted to see clearly up close, then remove them as soon as you’re finished reading, only to have to put them on again the next you need to read something.

At this point, if you still don’t understand what the problem is, it’s probably because you’re not very familiar with the condition called presbyopia’.

Reading Contact Lens Prescription - presbyopia

Presbyopia causes your eyes to require different strengths of prescriptions for seeing clearly in the distance versus seeing clearly up close.

You’ll understand once you take those reading glasses that help make everything so clear up close, and try to look down the street with them. Everything will be blurry. The same would happen if you wore the prescription of your reading glasses in your contact lenses. It just doesn’t work out.

To address this problem, contact lens manufacturers have developed special contact lenses called ‘multifocals’.

Multifocal Contact Lenses

The answer to people who need reading contact lenses is a type contact lens called multifocal contact lenses. These are specialized contact lenses that offer a different focusing power depending on whether you’re looking far away or up close.

Reading Contact Lens Prescription - Before and After Multifocal Contact Lenses

In theory, multifocal contact lenses are the perfect solution for contact lens wearers who need a little extra help reading things up close. However, multifocal contact lenses are unfortunately far from perfect.

Multifocal contact lenses can certainly help you read the small print that you struggle to see, but it most likely won’t be as crisp as the vision that you would get with a pair of reading glasses.

Furthermore, multifocal contact lenses depend heavily on good lighting for them to function properly. Reading in dim lighting, such as in restaurants, remains difficult even with multifocal contact lenses.

For for information about multifocal contact lenses, take a look at this article.

If you think this type of reading contact lens prescription would be a good fit for you, consider asking your eye doctor about them. Some popular multifocal brands include ULTRA for Presbyopia, Biofinity Multifocal, Air Optix Multifocal, Acuvue Oasys for Presbyopia, PureVision 2 for Presbyopia, and much more.

Monovision Contact Lenses

A different way of going about getting a reading contact lens prescription may be to try something called monovision.

Monovision is wearing a contact lens in one eye that makes everything clear in the distance, and a different contact lens in the other eye that makes everything clear up close (arm’s length). This essentially sets you up to have clear vision in the distance and up close, but only 1 eye can ever see clearly at a time.

Monovision can be difficult to get used to, and it’s certainly not for everyone. It is very important to trial monovision before you commit to this strategy, but if you think it may be for you, bring it up to your optometrist at your next eye exam.

Here is an excellent video I found that shares some simple tricks to increase the chance of success with your monovision:


Modified Monovision

Modified monovision is a strategy that combines both multifocal contact lenses and monovision. There are several ways of playing around with modified monovision, but the basic idea is that one eye uses a regular contact lens that makes everything clear in the distance, while the other eye uses a multifocal contact lens that provides some clarity up close without significantly blurring the distance vision.

Modified monovision is not as harsh as your standard monovision, and it doesn’t have many of the downsides of using multifocals in both eyes. However, the downside of modified monovision is that only 1 eye is able to see clearly up close, and it doesn’t work very well for people with high ‘Add’ numbers in their prescription.

KAMRA inlay

The KAMRA inlay is a much more recent invention than contact lenses. Instead of getting a reading contact lens prescription, some people are opting to get this surgical procedure.

The KAMRA inlay is a very small, flat disc that is implanted directly within the cornea of one of your eyes. Due to something known as the ‘pinhole effect’, looking through this small black disc makes things clear up close.

Reading Contact Lens Prescription - Before and After KAMRA inlay

Due to the KAMRA inlay’s small overall size, porous design, and the fact that it only goes in one eye, getting this procedure doesn’t affect how clearly you see in the distance.

The KAMRA inlay requires a very specific prescription for it to be effective, so it will often be combined with LASIK in order for you to attain the optimal prescription first.

Multifocal IOLs Reading Contact Lens Prescription - Intraocular lens

A multifocal IOL is a different kind of surgical procedure that is considerably more invasive than the KAMRA inlay. It requires a part of your eye called the ‘crystalline lens’ to be removed and replaced by little contact lens-like implants called IOLs (intraocular lenses).

This kind of surgery is probably performed more than any other kind of eye surgery, as it is what is done when somebody needs to have their cataracts removed. Typically, the implanted IOL isn’t a multifocal design, meaning that it’s only intended to make things clear in the distance, not up close. However, depending on your surgeon, you can choose to have multifocal IOLs implanted instead which give you good focus in the distance and up close.

Under certain circumstance, people can get this type of surgery even if they don’t have any cataracts that need to be removed. In that case, the procedure is called ‘clear lens exchange’.


Developing blurry reading vision is something that happens to everybody once they reach a certain age. In this article, you’ve learned about several different kinds of reading contact lens prescriptions that can help you resolve this problem without the need for reading glasses.

Have you tried any of the above techniques? If so, please share what you’ve tried and what your experience was with it below.


Author Julie

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