How Do I Know When I Need Bifocals?

People often wonder just when it becomes necessary to opt for bifocal lenses.

When Do I Need Bifocals?

The answer, of course, depends upon the individual and their unique vision needs. While presbyopia – the condition in which the lens of the eye alters enough to prevent one from focusing easily on nearby objects – typically sets in after age forty, there is no set age or way to predict the degree to which you’ll experience the condition. Many people never suffer from presbyopia at all, while others need reading glasses or bifocals long before they reach age forty.

If you are experiencing the focus issues that accompany presbyopia, your next step is to determine if bifocals are right for you. If you don’t have any other vision issues and don’t wear prescription glasses, you’re probably better off with standard reading glasses, which are available in a variety of magnification strengths. You can wear the reading glasses only when you need them and, if your presbyopia worsens as you age, you can easily switch to a pair with a higher magnification level.

If, however, you experience presbyopia and you wear prescription lenses for nearsightedness, farsightedness, or any other vision correction issue, bifocals may be just the thing to solve all your problems. As you probably know, bifocals feature a combination of prescription lenses. The upper part contains your standard corrective prescription; the lower half is equipped with magnification lenses. When you look straight ahead or side to side, your standard prescription lenses correct for your vision issue, and when you look down (to read, write, or focus on an in-close object), the magnification lenses correct for your presbyopia.

The key to deciding when to switch to bifocals sounds very “Zen”: know thyself. Make an accurate assessment of your up-close vision. How poor is it, and how often do you perform in-close tasks like reading or writing? If objects that are close to your eyes are still fairly clear, you might have only a mild case of presbyopia. If you can read, write, and see well enough to perform tasks within a distance of one-two feet from your eyes, you may be able to delay the use of corrective magnification. If, however, your presbyopia is moderate to severe, or you often need to read, fill out paperwork, or perform other in-close tasks, you’ll benefit greatly from the corrective-vision one-two punch that bifocals provide.

And always remember, if you have any questions about your potential need for bifocals – or any vision questions at all – the best course of action is to discuss them with your eye doctor. Routine visits are very important to maintain your eye health and catch any developing conditions while they are in the early stages.

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