There comes a time in life when the inevitable occurs: up-close eyesight gradually deteriorates. This age-related deterioration is called Presbyopia and its symptoms are:

  • Blurred vision during close-up reading
  • Need to hold reading materials at arms-length
  • Difficulty seeing and reading in dim light
  • Frequent headaches, eyestrain and tired eyes.

Fortunately there are several options, including bifocals, progressive lenses and reading glasses that correct this condition and restore close-up vision.

What Are Bifocals?

Presbyopia was first corrected by bifocal lenses. Originally invented by Benjamin Franklin, a bifocal is a lens that has two distinct panes separated by a noticeable horizontal line between the two. The top pane is for distance and the bottom is for close-up. The reading pane is shaped like a side-ways ‘D’ while the distance pane extends from frame edge to frame edge. Not as many people opt from bifocals anymore because it takes time to get used to the sudden shift in correction. However, one significant benefit of these lenses is that they provide two focusing points that give a clear field of vision.

What Are Progressive Lenses?

More popular today, progressive lenses provide a gradual change in vision correction without lines to designate correction shifts. Also known as no-line lenses, distance correction starts at the top and is stacked on top of intermediary corrections for mid-range vision, like when using a computer.  The bottom pane provides up-close corrections and the entire lens yields seamless, blended vision. But despite its obvious benefits, there are also several disadvantages to progressive lenses. Like their bifocal counterparts, vision looking out through the middle of the lens is clear, but along the edges there is a distortion that makes objects in the peripheral vision seem like they are moving. The typical response to this is to keep turning your head which can be a real issue when driving. Progressives are also more expensive than bifocals and because of their narrow correction field, there is much less margin for error when fitting a person with glasses.

Are Reading Glasses Different?

The short answer is: yes, reading glasses are different. The biggest difference is that they are non-prescriptive with generic correction strengths you can select for yourself. You can find them anywhere, ranging from drugstores to trendy gift shops, and frame styles range from plain to snazzy.  In general, readers are much less expensive than prescriptive lenses and glasses because they are made of lower quality materials.  Finally, the corrections are not as accurate as what you would get from an expert physicians.

But there are situations when reading glasses are preferable such as if you wear contact lenses for distance or if your correction is mild and you only need close-up correction occasionally. On the other hand, if you have a condition, such as astigmatism, or find yourself wearing readers more and more, consider scripted lenses for attractive, durable glasses that give you better vision.