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Power Profiles of Multifocal Contact Lenses and Their Interpretation

Plainis, Sotiris*; Atchison, David A.; Charman, W. Neil

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000030
Original Articles

Purpose Many contact lens (CL) manufacturers produce simultaneous-image lenses in which power varies either smoothly or discontinuously with zonal radius. We present in vitro measurements of some recent CLs and discuss how power profiles might be approximated in terms of nominal distance corrections, near additions, and on-eye visual performance.

Methods Fully hydrated soft, simultaneous-image CLs from four manufacturers (Air Optix AQUA, Alcon; PureVision multifocal, Bausch & Lomb; Acuvue OASYS for Presbyopia, Vistakon; Biofinity multifocal- “D” design, Cooper Vision) were measured with a Phase focus Lens Profiler (Phase Focus Ltd., Sheffield, UK) in a wet cell and powers were corrected to powers in air. All lenses had zero labeled power for distance.

Results Sagittal power profiles revealed that the “low” add PureVision and Air Optix lenses exhibit smooth (parabolic) profiles, corresponding to negative spherical aberration. The “mid” and “high” add PureVision and Air Optix lenses have bi-aspheric designs, leading to different rates of power change for the central and peripheral portions. All OASYS lenses display a series of concentric zones, separated by abrupt discontinuities; individual profiles can be constrained between two parabolically decreasing curves, each giving a valid description of the power changes over alternate annular zones. Biofinity lenses have constant power over the central circular region of radius 1.5 mm, followed by an annular zone where the power increases approximately linearly, the gradient increasing with the add power, and finally an outer zone showing a slow, linear increase in power with a gradient being almost independent of the add power.

Conclusions The variation in power across the simultaneous-image lenses produces enhanced depth of focus. The through-focus nature of the image, which influences the “best focus” (distance correction) and the reading addition, will vary with several factors, including lens centration, the wearer’s pupil diameter, and ocular aberrations, particularly spherical aberration; visual performance with some designs may show greater sensitivity to these factors.

Supplemental digital content is available in the text.

*MSc, PhD


PhD, DSc

Institute of Vision and Optics; Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, UK (SP), University of Crete, Greece; Faculty of Life Sciences (WNC), University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom; and Institute of Health & Biomedical Innovation and School of Optometry and Vision Science (DAA), Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Sotiris Plainis, Institute of Vision and Optics (IVO), School of Health Sciences, University of Crete, PO Box 2208, Heraklion 71003, Crete, Greece e-mail:

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© 2013 American Academy of Optometry