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Updated: 1/14/2003 2:31 pm
Bifocal contacts have been available since the days of the first hard contact lenses. However, early bifocal contacts weren't tolerated very well by most patients. Today, bifocal contacts are available in rigid, gas-permeable materials and soft materials. The rigid types have a success rate of about 70 percent. The first soft bifocal contact lenses became available in 1985, and there have been several different forms since then. Each uses a different technique to achieve clarity for near, as well as far vision. Current success rates for vision correction with soft, bifocal contact lenses are only about 50 percent, at best. However, new designs are continually being developed, so the next generation of lenses may provide a better success ratio. Another option that works for some patients who need bifocals is a contact lens technique called ""monovision"" (MAH-no-vih-zhun) With this technique, one eye is fitted with a near-vision prescription lens, and the other eye is fitted with a distance-vision one. This works because when the eyes transmit two different images to the brain, one of them gets shut off. With the monovision method, when you're looking at something close up, the brain shuts off the image from the distance lens, and it does the opposite when you're looking at a far-away image with the other eye. It takes about two weeks for your brain to learn to adapt to this way of seeing, but it can work well for some people. If you don't want to wear glasses but need bifocals, you might want to give monovision contact lenses a try.

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