Recognize These Signs? It Might be Time for Bifocals

It's OK! You don't have to be saddled with frumpy glasses.

Signs you are ready to discuss bifocals with your optometrist, and how to stay fashionable while you do it.

Mention the words “bifocals” or “reading glasses” and one envisions granny: her chin tilted down, eyes pointed and awkwardly peering downward through granny-style glasses to read a book or do some knitting. 

But the reality is that our eyesight changes once we hit our early forties, and the need for reading glasses and/or bifocals inevitably starts to set in. These changes affect the majority of Canadians, so there’s no escaping it! But don’t fret; with today’s technology, bifocals are not a must. You can still look young and fashionable and still be visually functional without ugly reading glasses, especially with advancements in contact lenses.

As our eyes begin to undergo the natural changes that come with the aging process, the result is an inability to see clearly at near distances, reducing the ability to focus on fine details. This normal, irreversible condition is called presbyopia

Here are a few signs that you’re ready to discuss bifocal/ multifocal needs with your optometrist:

  • You find yourself constantly holding items like newspapers, menus and magazines at arm's length, in order to see the print clearly. 
  • You experience headaches, eyestrain or eye fatigue when performing up-close tasks, like handwriting.
  • When driving, your vision is clear when looking out into the distance, but blurred when glancing down at the speedometer.
  • The quality of your vision changes throughout the day.  In the early stages of presbyopia, you may experience temporarily blurred vision of up-close objects when you first wake up. Alternatively, you may have clear vision of up-close objects at the beginning of the day, but will notice items start becoming blurrier as the day goes on.
  • You carry around a purse full of glasses - one pair for distance vision and another for reading, complemented by a pair of prescription sunglasses. 

When presbyopia sets in, most people traditionally gravitate toward bifocals or have two separate pairs of glasses for their needs. 

If you lead an active, on-the-go lifestyle (and what mom doesn’t?), this can be quite inconvenient. Aside from multiple sets of glasses or bifocals, there are alternative options available, including multi-focal contact lenses for presbyopic patients. These types of contact lenses are designed to correct vision so that patients can see naturally and effortlessly near, far and everywhere in between. The multi-focal design allows users to better focus on objects of various distances, so there is no need to tilt the head up and down or from side to side. 

Don't be afraid to ask your optometrist about the options available, and don't get frustrated if one solution isn't for you. It may take some experimenting to find out what works best.  

Oh, and don't forget to have your child's eyes tested, too!

Good luck!

 RELATED: The Serious Diseases a Doctor of Optometry Can Detect

Dr. Upen Kawale is a celebrated Canadian optometrist who co-founded the Toronto Eye Care Optometric Clinic in Toronto.