ARVO Logo Age-related problems with near vision generally referred to as presbyopia, may occur after the age of 40 and cause difficulty to focus on nearby objects. A recent study asserts that older adults wearing multifocal contact lenses to correct problems with near vision have comparatively more difficulty to drive at night. It was suggested that wearing multifocal contact lenses considerably slows driving speeds at night than wearing progressive addition glasses.

The study was triggered on 11 older adults aged between 45-64 years who employed lenses to correct problems with near vision only while reading. As the volunteers drove on a closed circuit driving track at night, experts measured their performance for five areas. The five areas considered were road sign recognition, road hazard recognition and avoidance, lane keeping, near target recognition and distance to identify standard street signs. The outcome was that participants wearing multifocal contact lens were probably capable of viewing road signs at a much shorter distance, as compared to those wearing glasses. So the reaction time essential for a driver to make necessary navigational decisions was significantly reduced.

Due to slower driving the likelihood of hitting nighttime road hazards may be decreased. Multifocal contact lens wearers were apparently less able to identify road hazards. Additional investigations will be conducted to ascertain the study findings in older adults with no experience of wearing lenses to correct problems with near vision. Byoung Sun Chu, PhD, formerly of the School of Optometry, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues suggest that presbyopia patients can be recommended with multifocal contact lenses for daytime use and a different correction for driving at night.

The study is published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.