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Is there an alternative to reading glasses?

Dr Mark Porter / 01 June 2018 ( 25 November 2019 )

Dr Mark Porter responds to a reader’s query about wearing a contact lens in one eye.

Reading glasses
Most of us end up needing reading glasses by our late forties

Q: I am 57 and struggling with my dependence on reading glasses, which I need to do almost anything now. My vision is otherwise perfect and, despite using specs for nearly a decade, I don’t like wearing them. I have heard a contact lens in just one eye can work as well. Might that be an option?

Stylish spectacles

A: Most of us end up needing reading glasses by our late forties as age-related changes in the eye (presbyopia) make it harder for us to focus on close objects. Unfortunately, presbyopia has proved surprisingly resistant to advances in technology.

Correcting for near vision tends to blur objects in the distance (the reason people are always looking over the top of their readers), so wearing a pair of contact lenses for close work is not an option. However, wearing just one lens to correct one eye is a trick some optometrists suggest, but it is not suitable for everyone.

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This may seem a strange idea, but if the lens is worn in your non-dominant eye, then your brain can adapt to using the dominant eye for middle and long distance, and your ‘weaker’ one for close work, negating the need for readers.

It is certainly worth a try in the early stages of presbyopia when your prescription is not too high, but, be warned, at 57 you may be past this stage by now. To work out which eye is dominant, hold one finger in front of you at arm’s length. Then cover your right eye – if the finger appears to move, then your right eye is dominant. If it doesn’t, your left eye is.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.