You can think of bifocal glasses as two pairs of glasses in one: a pair of glasses for everyday wear, and a pair of glasses for reading. That’s because bifocal lenses feature two viewing areas divided by a visible line: the larger area is for distance, and the smaller area at the bottom is for reading. Don’t look at them as granny glasses or old man spectacles, but rather as the best of both worlds.
Bifocal reading glasses have two different lens prescriptions on the same lens. The top portion of the lens is your normal distance prescription, and the bottom section of the lens is for seeing things close-up, like reading. These two lenses allow you to alternate between them as you need to by moving your eyes up or down.
Generally speaking, bifocal glasses serve the purpose of giving you all of the vision correction you need in one pair of glasses. Being able to read and perform close-up tasks without switching to another pair of glasses, or having to carry around a second pair, is a great convenience to many glasses wearers.
If you’re in your early 40s, you may have noticed a few changes in recent years, including:
● You find yourself holding menus, books, and magazines ever further from your face to read them.
● You get headaches or eye fatigue when doing up-close tasks like writing by hand or small, detailed tasks.
● Your quality of vision changes throughout the day: your vision is blurry upon waking or things get blurrier as the day goes on.
● While you’re driving, you notice that the speedometer is a little out of focus when you glance down at it.
● You carry around more than one pair of glasses to use throughout the day.
If any of these things sound familiar, you’re not alone. Presbyopia is the clinical term for changes that come with aging, making it difficult to see clearly at close distances. If you’re experiencing any of these signs of presbyopia, it might be time for bifocal glasses.
In bifocal glasses, the two prescription areas of the lens are divided by a distinct, visible horizontal line. Glasses with progressive lenses are basically bifocals without the telltale line dividing the prescriptions. Progressive lenses often have an intermediate distance between the two, which is ideal for computer use.
The advantages of bifocal reading glasses are the convenience of having two lenses in one and that they are traditionally less expensive than progressive glasses. Their disadvantages are the “jump” of the image between close up and distance lens areas, the lack of intermediate vision, and the time it takes to get used to them.
People wearing bifocals for the first time may take a week or two to adjust to them. It can take even longer, and some find that they cannot make the transition and give up on them completely.
Adjusting to wearing bifocal glasses can be a challenge, but you can definitely take some measures to make the adjustment smoother:
● Wear your bifocal glasses continuously to get your eyes used to them.
● Don’t look down when you walk, and if you need to, tilt your head down so that you are looking through the top portion of the lenses.
● Adapt your reading habits by holding your reading material below your face so that you are looking through the lower portion of your glasses.
● Make sure your bifocal glasses are properly fitted to your face.
Bifocal glasses work wonderfully for driving, but many people prefer using bifocal sunglasses for driving to cut down on glare. The benefit of driving with bifocals is that when you need to look at the dashboard or read a map, you’ll already have glasses on that are up to the task.
Yes! If you love the idea of bifocal glasses but hate the lines, then you should consider progressive lenses. They are basically bifocal glasses without the lines, and they add a mid-distance area that is particularly useful for computer use.
While there is some question as to the accuracy of the claim, Benjamin Franklin is generally credited for the invention of bifocals. Even if he did not invent them, he was certainly an early adopter and the reason for their popularity from the late 1700s and on.