Multifocal Contact Lenses for Children 

Dr. Russel Lazarus, March 7, 2021

Was your child prescribed multifocal contact lenses and you’re not sure why?

Multifocal contact lenses are prescribed for children to support their learning and school performance, as well as for myopia management.

Many children also find contact lenses to offer improved vision and comfort for outdoor play and sports.

If you aren’t sure this is the best choice for your child, learn more about the exam for contact lenses, multifocal contact lenses and just how beneficial they can be for children.

SEE RELATED: Contact Lenses and Children: Part 2 Q&A

Find an eye doctor for children near you

How do multifocals work?

Just like multifocal eyeglasses, different areas on the contact lens are designed for different vision zones – near, intermediate, and distant. In glasses lenses, the zones are organized from top to bottom, whereas in contact lenses, they are arranged from the center of the lens outwards.

Simply put, when a child looks downwards to read, do homework or use a computer, they look through a lower power in the contact lens.

For example, if your child has myopia of -2.50 and the multifocal power is +1.00, then when they look down the effective lens they are looking through is -1.50.

Are multifocal contact lenses suitable for children? 

Yes, multifocal lenses are not only well received by young eyes, but it also takes little effort to teach children on how to insert, remove, and clean their contact lenses.

Some children can start wearing contact lenses as young as 8 years of age, as long as they can take responsibility and are aware of the hygienic requirements involved in wearing contacts. Most importantly, is the child’s motivation to wear contact lenses.

Depending on your child’s prescription, daily disposable contact lenses may be recommended. These are easy to care for since they simply get disposed at the end of the day.

Benefits of contact lenses for children

There are a number of ways in which contact lenses can benefit a child. These include:

  • 92% of parents and 93% of children say that they enjoy wearing contact lenses – compared with only 58% of children who report that they prefer glasses
  • 86% of children say that they feel better participating in sports when wearing contact lenses
  • 80% of parents agree that contact lenses increased their child’s self-confidence
  • 30% of parents find that glasses impact their children’s enjoyment of sports
  • The risk of glasses-related eye injuries during sports is eliminated
  • Contact lenses provide a more ‘natural vision’ and are more comfort, especially for high prescriptions
  • Slower myopia progression stabilizes the child’s prescription

Multifocal lenses for myopia management

Myopia occurs when the light bent by the eye lens forms an image in front of the retina instead of directly on the retina. This happens when the eyeball is too long from front to back, leading to excessive distance between the lens and the retina. As the eyeball grows, this distance increases and shortsightedness worsens.

What causes the eyeball to grow? 

Researchers attribute a phenomenon called peripheral retinal defocus as one of the causes. Multifocal contact lenses focus light correctly across all areas on your retina thus reducing or even eliminating the peripheral retinal defocus.

Slowing down, or perhaps even stopping, the myopia worsening is a treatment program known as Myopia Management.

In this process the optometrist may prescribe multifocal lenses with a center-distance design. In this design the center of the contact lens enables the wearer to focus on distant objects which appear blurry to a nearsighted person, while the outer rings place near objects into focus.

Which myopia management treatment is best? 

Your optometrist will examine your child’s eyes to get an overall picture of eye health, the severity of myopia and any other conditions that may be present.

After the thorough evaluation the eye doctor will discuss the range of alternatives available for your child’s myopia management, these also include ortho-k lenses, multifocal glasses or atropine eye drops. Together with your child, you can decide on the best solution.

Patient Experiences

“The eye doctor recommended multifocal contact lenses for my 8-year-old son. His vision has significantly improved. His prescription has remained the same now for almost 2 years.”

Carly M.

“I used to have to get my child stronger glasses every 4 to 6 months! We couldn’t keep up and it was affecting her ability to function at school. For three years she was fitted with multifocal contacts and her prescription has barely changed, She feels confident and comfortable at school.” 

Matt S.

LEARN MORE: Guide to Children’s Eye Exams

If you are concerned about your child’s worsening myopia, contact an eye doctor near you to schedule an appointment, they can provide you with information on the best options to benefit your child.