Purpose: The purpose of this study is to assess the visual performance of subjects wearing gas-permeable (GP) multifocal contact lenses, soft bifocal contact lenses, GP monovision lenses and spectacles.
Methods: The study included 32 subjects between the ages of 42 and 65 years wearing GP monovision, the Acuvue Bifocal (Vistakon), the Essentials GP Multifocal (Blanchard), and progressive addition lenses (PAL; spectacles group). There were eight subjects in each of these groups who were already wearing these modalities. Binocular low (18%) and high (95%) contrast acuities were recorded using the Bailey-Lovie chart; binocular contrast sensitivity from 1.5 to 18 cycles per degree (cpd) measured with the Vistech VCTS 6500 system, and monocular glare sensitivity at three luminance settings (400, 100, and 12 foot lamberts) was measured using the brightness acuity tester (BAT). Binocular near visual task performance (a modified version of letter counting method used in previous presbyopic studies) was also assessed.
Results: For the contact lens-wearing groups, subjects wearing GP multifocals provided the best binocular high and low contrast acuity followed by soft bifocal wearers. There was relative parity between the binocular high and low contrast acuity with PAL and GP multifocal wearers. Monovision acuity, measured binocularly, was determined to be lower than the other three groups with this difference being most significant with high contrast acuity. Among contact lens-wearing groups, it was observed that GP multifocal lens wearers experienced the lowest amount of monocular disability glare followed by soft bifocal wearers and monovision wearers. Subjects wearing soft bifocal lenses and monovision demonstrated slightly reduced binocular contrast sensitivity at all spatial frequencies. In the contact lens groups, GP multifocal lens wearers had the highest binocular contrast sensitivity at all spatial frequencies, on parity with PAL wearers, except at the highest spatial frequency (18 cpd) at which PAL wearers had better vision. Error scores for the binocular near visual task performance between the four groups revealed subjects with GP multifocal lenses and PAL wearers to have the least errors, followed by monovision users and then soft bifocal wearers with the most errors.
Conclusion: Subjects wearing GP multifocals, soft bifocals, monovision, and PAL spectacles have good binocular contrast sensitivity, satisfactory binocular low and high contrast acuity, and increased sensitivity to glare. Presbyopic subjects requiring the use of contact lenses under dim light levels could benefit from GP multifocal lenses. Contrast and glare sensitivity evaluations provide significant information regarding the visual performance of the presbyopic contact lenses and should be included in regular presbyopic contact lens fitting.