One issue that many people find themselves dealing with as they age is the need for bifocal lenses. If you’ve recently begun needing reading glasses, or you’ve suddenly found yourself holding your phone at arms-length simply to read your text messages, you may want to consider bifocals.
When you wear bifocals all the time you will have to learn to adjust your line of sight depending on what you want to look. Adjusting to wearing bifocals every day will mean changing the way you do even the most basic tasks like driving or walking up stairs.
Whether bifocals are something you’re just beginning to consider or a choice you’ve already made, there are a few things you will want to know about wearing them every day. Today, the goal is to give you as much information as possible about wearing bifocals all the time.
Wearing Bifocals Every Day
Anyone changing to bifocals from regular glasses will need to learn to do some basic things differently. While your eyes may have adjusted to the new lenses you will still have to adjust to the day-to-day changes that come with wearing bifocals.
- Adjusting your line of sight: When you wear bifocals, you must learn to adjust your line of sight depending on what you are doing and whether you need to see up close, far away, or switch in between the two. For example, when driving you will have to learn to move your eyes instead of your head to switch between looking at the road and the instruments on your dashboard.
- Navigating Stairs: When walking up or downstairs it is important to keep your focus through the top part of your lenses and not the bottom. If you look down at the stairs through the bottom of your lenses that are meant for reading it could confuse your depth perception causing you to stumble and fall.
Some of these are simple and can happen instinctively, however, some may take some practice.
Driving with Bifocals
We already mentioned the difficulty of switching between looking at the instruments on your dashboard and looking at the road, but there is so much more to learn about driving with bifocals. For many people, driving while wearing bifocals can be one of the most difficult things to adjust to.
Just think of all the different things you have to look at while you’re driving. You are constantly changing your line of sight and that can be very difficult to adapt to doing so differently.
Tips for driving with bifocals:
- Get used to turning your head completely to check each mirror.
- Your peripheral vision will likely be blurry with traditional bifocals, so you will need to turn all the way around to check the lane next to you.
- When checking the GPS or setting cruise control you will need to look through the lower portion of your lenses.
- Learn to look through the bottom half of your lenses at the objects close to you and back up at the road through the top half of your lenses.
Even tiny details require adjustment when you switch to bifocals. Getting used to wearing bifocals while driving can be a challenge but if you stick to it and practice it will get easier every time.
Are Progressive Lenses Good for Driving?
Because progressive lenses work so well for seeing both near and far they are great lenses for driving. With progressive lenses, your peripheral vision will be blurry so changing lanes and checking your rearview mirrors will require some time to adjust to.
Wearing progressive lenses will also keep you from having to change your glasses while you are driving which can be dangerous and distracting.
If you plan to do a lot of driving you might also want to look into premium progressive lenses. These lenses offer a much wider field of view and are highly recommended for drivers.
Choosing the Bifocals That Are Right for You
Many people who wear bifocals prefer to get their lenses with anti-reflective or AR coating. AR is also helpful when driving at night because it allows more light to enter your eyes. There will be just less glare on the lens surface.
Different Types of Bifocals
Just as with conventional glasses, there are many things to consider when choosing which bifocals will be right for you. This includes choosing what type of bifocals you want as well as deciding whether you prefer glass or plastic lenses. Some different types of bifocals are:
- Traditional Bifocals: These are bifocals with lenses that have a noticeable line in the center. These bifocals have two separate lens prescriptions that are separated by a line directly in the center.
- Trifocals: This type of bifocal has three separate prescriptions that gradually change from the top to the bottom of each lens.
- Progressive or No-line Bifocals: These are different from traditional bifocals because instead of taking two different strength lenses and turning them into a single lens, progressive lenses are one single lens that gradually changes strength from top to bottom.
- Bifocal Contact Lenses: These are contacts that utilize two separate prescription strengths in each contact lens.
- Blended Bifocals: These lenses have no ledge. They are also known as free form bifocals.
Different Types of Traditional Bifocal Lenses
Choosing the bifocal lenses that are right for you is an essential part of adjusting to bifocals. Consider all your options when choosing your bifocal lenses to be sure you choose the lenses that will be most comfortable for you. There are a few different types of traditional bifocal lenses that you can choose from:
- Franklin style bifocal lenses are divided completely in half. The top half of the lens is for seeing far away while the bottom half is for reading or focusing on things that are closer to you.
- Round segment lenses have a circle-shaped section at the bottom of the lens that is used for reading or focusing up close, while the entire rest of the lens is for seeing far away.
- Ribbon segment lenses function the same way as round segment lenses, however, instead of a circle-shaped section at the bottom of the lens, they have a rectangular-shaped section.
- D segment lenses are again quite similar to circle or ribbon segment lenses but with a bottom section shaped like a D or a half-moon.
Choosing the Right Frames for Bifocals
While style and fashion are always important factors in choosing frames for your glasses, when it comes to bifocals functionality is also an important thing to consider. The size of your frames can directly affect whether your bifocals function properly and efficiently. There are three types of frames for glasses.
- Full Frame: Full frames are eyeglass frames that go all the way around each lens.
- Semi-Rimless: Semi-Rimless frames have sections on either the top or bottom or bottom of the lens that do not have frames.
- Rimless: Rimless frames are eyeglasses that have no frame around the lenses.
Everyone has a preference when it comes to the style of their frames, be it plastic, metal, or invisible frames. Any style of frame will work for bifocal glasses. When it comes to size, however, you will want to choose carefully. Moderate to large sized lenses tend to function better as bifocals so keep that in mind while choosing frames.
Very small frames mean very small lenses and when it comes to bifocals bigger is better. Since you have two separate prescriptions working in the same lens, the bigger the lens is the bigger each portion will be, making it easier to identify and switch in between the top and bottom portions of your bifocal lenses.
You don’t have to choose giant frames for bifocals to work. Checking with the technician helping you with your frames might be a good idea though. They should be able to tell you about where the lines on your lenses will be and give you at least a general idea of whether or not your preferred frames would be a good choice for bifocal lenses.
Choosing Between Bifocal Glasses or Contacts
Bifocals are an option even if you prefer to wear contact lenses and not glasses. Bifocal contact lenses are available in both soft and rigid materials, as well as reusable or disposable forms. There are two basic types of bifocal contact lenses.
- Simultaneous – Simultaneous contact lenses are designed with two circles in the center of the lens. A smaller circle that is typically used to see far away with a larger circle around it that is used to read and see objects closer to you. Simultaneous lenses require your eye to utilize both prescriptions at the same time and figure out when to switch between the two. Because of this, it can sometimes take much longer to adjust to simultaneous lenses.
- Segmented – Segmented contact lenses have two separate sections separated by a line in the middle. The upper section is used for seeing far away while the lower section is used for reading or focusing on objects that are closer to you. These lenses can sometimes move around in the eye which can cause difficulty in switching from the top to the bottom sections of the lens. Weighted designs have been developed to help keep the lenses in place in your eye.
Some patients have an easier time adjusting to bifocal lenses with a technique called monovision. But that is less likely if your eyes play well together.
Typical bifocal lenses utilize two separate prescriptions in the same lens, however, monovision is when you have one lens for seeing objects up close and another lens for seeing far away. With this technique, your brain learns to switch between using one eye for seeing far away and the other for focusing on objects up close.
Because it can sometimes take a few different tries to get the contacts that are right for you, they do tend to be more expensive than traditional bifocal glasses.
Common Issues Associated with Wearing Bifocals
For elderly people who have never worn bifocals before, it can take longer for their eyes to adjust to bifocals. They may need bifocals with a much more dramatic difference in strength from the top to the bottom. This can help them learn to switch between the two much easier.
Your Lens Line May Be Too High
One common problem with bifocal lenses is that the line through the middle could be too high. Ideally, the line on bifocal lenses should be around your eyelid. This makes it fairly easy to switch between looking up through the part of the lens that helps you to see far away, and then down through the bottom half of the lens to see close up.
If the line on your bifocal lenses is too high you will not have enough lens space for seeing far away. Try talking to your eye care professional if you feel your lens line is too high. They can usually adjust your lenses for you to get the line where it should be so you can see comfortably. They may also recommend progressive lenses with no line.
Your Eyes May Take Time To Adjust
Another problem many people with bifocals face is simply adjusting to the change in lenses. Your eyes are trying to learn how to navigate two separate prescriptions at the same time which can be difficult. For someone new to bifocals it can take up to two weeks or sometimes even longer for your eyes to adjust to bifocal lenses.
While adjusting to bifocal lenses you may experience a few side effects. These can include:
- Balance Issues
- Blurry Vision
How to Adjust to Bifocals
Adjusting to glasses with bifocal lenses is a process that, for some, can be hard to handle. While it may take a while to get used to wearing bifocals, there are a few things you can do to make it easier to adjust.
- Once you get your bifocal glasses don’t switch back and forth between your bifocals and your old glasses. This makes it harder for your eyes to adjust to the bifocals and can cause headaches.
- Hold items that you’re reading about 15” away from your face and be sure to focus through the bottom portion of your lenses.
- If you frequently use a computer, adjust the screen so that you are looking at it through the reading portion of your glasses. Adjusting your seat to help with this could also work. In most cases, additional office lenses will be a good choice.
- A proper fit is essential when it comes to bifocals. The line in the middle of your lens should always remain stationary on the level of your lower eyelid of your eye so you can get used to moving your eye up or down to see through the different sections of your glasses. Make sure your glasses fit properly and don’t slide down your nose.
- Avoid repeatedly switching from the top to the bottom of your lenses very quickly. When your eyes move from the top to bottom of your bifocals and from one prescription to another, it can make it seem as though what you’re looking at is jumping around. Sometimes this can cause you to feel dizzy or unbalanced.
You may also want to try wearing your glasses for only a couple of hours when you get up each day and build your tolerance for them up over time. Looking straight ahead when you walk instead of down at your feet is also helpful, as well as turning your head entirely in the direction you want to look instead of just moving your eyes.
Bifocal glasses can take some getting used to and it can be an understandably difficult process for some people. The most important thing to remember is simply not to give up too soon. If, after a few weeks, you still haven’t adjusted to your new bifocal lenses you may want to talk to your eye care professional about adjusting your prescription.
Knowing what it’s like to wear bifocals every day, and how difficult it can be to get used to them, might make the switch to bifocals seem a bit intimidating. By knowing the many options that you have when it comes to bifocals, and what it will be like to adjust to them, you are better prepared to begin wearing bifocals all the time.