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Contact lenses vs glasses - wearing as we get older, over 45

By March 6, 2010 - 5:47am
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A friend of mine who is 50 told me that her eye doctor advised her to wear glasses and stop wearing contact lenses as she has been wearing contacts for 20 years and from now on her eyes cannot tolerate contacts. Is it true that if we wear contacts for 20 years plus on daily basis, that around after 50 we may need to wear glasses most of the time? In order to be able to wear contacts longer, and as I am 40, I started wearing glasses most of the time and contacts only some of the time (e.g. when I am going out or once a week when I want to look very pretty). I would not want to be in a situation when I am in my 50s or 60s where I cannot wear contacts even part of the time as I do not look so good in glasses.

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EmpowHER Guest

I'm 61 years old and still wear contact lenses. I usually wear them all day at work and then switch to glasses when I get home. Also, I have astigmatism which is solved by getting a torque lens. AND, I wear bifocals but now they have contacts called "monovision" - one lens (right) is for distance and the other (left) is for up-close (reading). Not everyone can tolerate these but I have found no problem at all. Hope this helps.

August 6, 2016 - 10:55am


There's also this: As you get older, your eyes age and, depending on whether you are naturally near-sighted or far-sighted, you may need bifocals or reading glasses.

It's easy to use reading glasses when you wear contacts. And they do make bifocal and multifocal contact lenses. But I haven't found the multi-focal lenses to be as clear and sharp as regular contact lenses.

In other words, once our eyes start needing a second form of correction, it makes it harder to use contacts.

Are you near-sighted or far-sighted?

March 8, 2010 - 11:38am
(reply to Diane Porter)

THank you. I only have problems seeing far and have no problems with reading.

March 11, 2010 - 5:07am
(reply to Samurai)


You may still develop a problem with reading; it happens to most people (if it's going to) in their early 40s. I think for me it happened at 41 or 42.

I think that what you are doing -- wearing glasses most of the time and contacts some of the time -- needs to be what's best for your eyes' health. If that's what an optometrist or opthalmologist recommends, then you're doing the right thing.

But if you're doing that just for cosmetic purposes -- meaning, if the contacts actually correct your vision better -- I would wear the contacts.

I couldn't find any evidence that people just can't successfully wear contacts because of their age. In fact, there are some contacts newly developed JUST for aging eyes that are experiencing a condition called presbyopia. But what happens is that changes in the eye sometimes make contacts uncomfortable or not practical, so people stop wearing them.

Here's a page about those new contacts for aging eyes:

Remember that progress in this area goes on constantly. In 10 years, we have no idea what kinds of contacts and/or eye treatments will be available to us. And you can be assured that the millions of aging baby boomers are not all going to want to turn in their contact lenses!!!

There is also the possibility of laser eye surgery, which is a permanent correction to the eyes. You may find yourself considering this if you are worried about the contacts-glasses problem. (I don't think I look good in glasses either, so I understand where you're coming from!)

Does this information help at all?

March 12, 2010 - 8:49am
(reply to Diane Porter)

Diane thank you.

RE: There is also the possibility of laser eye surgery, which is a permanent correction to the eyes.

I am a bit worried about this procedure as it is relatively new (about 15 years???) and we do not really know what the long term effects are.

May 30, 2010 - 7:25am
(reply to Samurai)


You are right. There have been huge advances in laser eye surgery. I know several people who have had it, including my husband -- his was about 10 years ago. I cannot tell you how happy he has been since having it. It literally changed his life.

Laser eye surgeons are like any other specialty -- you want to look for one who is experienced, has an amazing track record and gives you all the information you want. Any laser eye clinic should be able to tell you the backgrounds of their doctors, how many surgeries they have done, how many second surgeries they have to do and what their rate of infection is (it should be zero!)

Are you considering this surgery?

May 31, 2010 - 1:14pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for your question. It really depends on the type of contacts that she wears and although some people may be able to wear contacts all their lives, others may not. Here is a link in regard to highly oxygen permeable contacts http://abstracts.iovs.org/cgi/content/abstract/43/12/1657.

The above link provides information about the long term effects of this kind of contact and the possibility of effects to the cornea.

Using hard contacts can certainly be detrimental to your vision as well as you can see in this article from Ehow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_5525225_effects-wearing-hard-contact-lenses.html.

To be more specific, what kind of contacts do you wear so we can help you better understand the contacts specific to your use?

March 6, 2010 - 10:41am
(reply to Anonymous)

Thanks for your answer. I wear Acuvue soft contacts that last 2 weeks. I wear them about 50% of the time and glasses the other 50%

May 30, 2010 - 7:24am
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