For many of us, the day is swiftly coming or is now at hand when we will need to make the adjustment to bifocal glasses. Aging usual includes a natural decline in our ability to see objects up close. Called presbyopia, this process can eventually result in the need for bifocals
Wearing bifocals creates a change in how you see, and it requires a process to get used to them. But you can easily adapt to wearing bifocals if you commit to a 1-to-2-week adjustment period wearing only your new pair of bifocals.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some tips for making the adjustment to bifocals easy. Then we’ll decide whether or not bifocals are easier to adjust to than progressives. Whatever you choose, a period of adjustment awaits you. For bifocals, here are some tips to buckle down with.
Keep Them On
When you first put bifocals on, it can create the effect of a vision jump-scare because looking down will suddenly cause the ground to jump up at you. Then look back up; everything seems blurry because you’re still looking through the magnified field.
Or you may be reading, and when you can up and down across the page, the words jump in and out of focus because you are unwittingly crossing between the two fields of vision.
These changes can be difficult to get used to, to say the least. I am an optician and always tell my customers the following symptoms can occur when they wear bifocals for the first time:
- Blurry vision
- Objects that seem to jump or move around
- Balance problems
This is why opticians go on to recommend that you start off slowly. Put your glasses on in the morning for a couple of hours, then take them off. The next day, stretch out the time longer. Work your way into wearing them.
Some opticians recommend putting them on and leaving them on. This is a good idea if you’re not feeling any of the symptoms listed above. Time is a big factor in getting used to your bifocals. The longer you are able to keep them on, the shorter the adjustment period will be.
One thing all opticians agree on: don’t go back and forth between your new bifocals and your old prescription. Once you transition to bifocals, stick with those. Going back and forth will only lengthen the adjustment period.
Make Sure They Fit
Almost all opticians with tips about this topic insist on this point: make sure your glasses fit well on your face.
This point might not come to mind at first, but it makes sense when you think about it. When you’re trying to get used to something new, the last thing you need is more distraction.
In the case of bifocals, you don’t want your glasses to be sliding down your nose, or pinching your nose or your ears, or giving you a pressure headache while simultaneously things are jumping in and out of your near vision.
Having an experienced doctor or optician will be vital to helping you in this area. This includes not just the frame but the lenses themselves. You’ll want to choose a style with an appropriate lens height to reasonably accommodate the two prescriptions of your bifocal glasses.
Take them back to be fitted if they are uncomfortable.
Where to Look While Walking
Walking takes on a new dimension when you have bifocals. Literally. It’s in the lower half of your glasses. You’ll never know how much you move your eyes until you wear bifocals.
This is why you want to look straight ahead while walking. Don’t look down with your eyes. If you have to look down in order to navigate tricky terrain like staircases, use your whole head to look down.
Practicing using head movement to look in different directions by employing this technique: point your nose where you want to go. This will get you used to moving your eyes less and your head more. The better you are at this, the easier it will be to adjust to your bifocals.
One of the main benefits of bifocals is the prescription for reading that fits into the lower half of the lens. This allows you to read without the added hassle of taking off your normal glasses before looking for the last place you left your reading glasses.
But reading will also feel a little different. Hold the book about 16 to 18 inches away from your eyes and look through the bottom part of your glasses. Try to keep your head still and your eyes steady as you read. Don’t move either in order to see different parts of the page, but rather move the reading material itself.
If you’re used to lying in bed when you read, this may require that you move into a sitting position while you read yourself to sleep at night.
Adjust Your Computer Screen
If you work at a computer, you may need to adjust the screen by either making changes to your desk or your chair. You want your computer screen to be just below your eye level. But in most cases, computer progressive glasses in addition to your bifocals will be a good choice.
Are Bifocals Easier to Adjust to Than Progressives?
Now, let’s ask the burning question in everyone’s mind when they look at getting bifocals: are progressive lenses easier to get used to?
The general consensus seems to be that both lenses have their challenges to adapt to. In fact, many of the tips for adapting to bifocals are the same for adapting to progressives. The ease of it seems to depend on the person.
Knowing a little about the different lenses will help you decide which might be easier for you to adjust to.
Bifocal glasses essentially put two lens prescriptions into one pair of glasses: a prescription for seeing things far away and one for seeing things close up. Essentially it puts your normal glasses and your reading glasses into one pair. Bifocals have a distinct line between the two prescriptions that make them easily identifiable.
Progressives, on the other hand, blend three different prescriptions together: far, middle, and closeup. What you see depends on where you look through the lens, and that can take some getting used to because the areas are blended together to create a flow of vision.
If you have a lifestyle where you reliably need only a couple of distinct adjustments to your vision, closeup, and far away, then bifocals may be the choice for you.
If you are more active and are consistently adjusting your vision to a variety of fields, then progressive may be the lens type that you need.
For some people, aesthetics are an issue. To put it bluntly, some people think bifocals make them look old, because, well, most people who wear bifocals are, shall we say, advanced in years.
For some people, knowing it makes you look younger can make anything easy. If that’s the case, then progressives may be for you.
Like many things about ourselves that we take for granted, you never realize how much you depend on your eyesight until something messes with it. Wearing bifocals can be a big adjustment. Suddenly your whole field of vision is now chopped up into two distinct parts.
Nevertheless, the benefits that bifocals provide should give you an end goal to strive for. There is light, as it were, at the end of the tunnel. When you think about it, a 1-to-2-week adjustment period is pretty small in the face of having clear vision for the rest of your life.