What? I need Bifocals?

What? I need Bifocals?

What? I need Bifocals?


I’ve been prescribing bifocals for 20 years now. Over the years, as eye doctors, we get pretty good at working in that delicate conversation.

“It happens to all of us at some point. As we age, usually a little over 40 years old, the lens, which is the focusing mechanism inside your eyes, gets tired and does not do as good of a job as it did last year. You need to start thinking about when this gets annoying enough that you want to correct your near vision with glasses.”

If you are over 40, you’ve probably heard this from your doctor.

My patients look at me like I am going to tell them something bad. Next thing, they admit that they have been wondering about this because they have started to extend their arms to see things up close. Those of us with kids can relate to the situation where our kids ask us to read something and shove it really close to our face. It makes me think they are subtly letting us know that we are getting older.

Read This, Dad!

For twenty years I have been telling patients that they need reading help due to their age. For twenty years I have been discussing options of how to fix this problem, from reading glasses, to bifocal glasses, to bifocal contact options, to progressive eyeglass lenses. I have been discussing these options without ever having had to wear any of them…until last year when I had to take the plunge.

It’s amazing what we are willing to put up with for vanity. I didn’t want to wear glasses because I thought I couldn’t find any glasses that looked good on me. And this is coming from someone who sells glasses. After too many “read this, dad!” situations, I decided to get my first pair of progressive no-line bifocal glasses.

A Right of Passage Into Middle Age

To my surprise, they were much easier to adapt to than I thought they would be. I used to explain to my patients that they would have to spend a few weeks getting used to the glasses. They would have to point their head in the direction of what they’re looking at because their peripheral vision would be hindered. It could take up to two weeks to adapt.

Sure, some have some difficulty adapting, but, for the most part, the latest technology makes digital progressive lenses much easier to adapt to than previous designs. Little did I know, since I had never tried to wear progressive lenses. The thing is that you can’t get the real feel for how they will work for you until you actually need them. That’s when I re-framed the whole idea, and now I look at needing bifocals as a right of passage into middle age.

I like wearing glasses. They are a nice fashion statement. I have different pairs that I will trade out and wear for different occasions. The best thing is that I can now see things close to me. No more pushing my arms out or having my kids hand me things that I cannot see. No more jokes that my arms are not long enough. Seeing clearly is a great thing!

The Bifocals Club

The benefit of wearing glasses that most surprised me, is being more informed for my patients who are starting to need bifocals. I am in “the bifocals club” now. Instead of telling them how others adapt to bifocals, I can proudly say that I wear them and it is easier than you think. I am able to feel their pain, and help them come to terms with the fact that they are older than they used to be and that this is a right of passage.

I can give them better perspective, since I am now one of them.