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Multifocal glasses.

Multifocal Glasses

Sick of taking your reading glasses on and off?

Convenience. That’s what most people want. Less fuss. Less stuff. And so, when you reach your mid-40s and you suddenly need a pair of reading glasses, that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is actually having them handy when you need them. Hence the proliferation of devices to keep glasses handy. But if you’re sick of the on-again-off-again of reading glasses, this is where multifocals come in.

Traditional designs

Multifocals, by definition, allow you to focus clearly at a range of distances. Traditionally, this has been distance (through the top half of the lens), near (through an area in the lower part of the lens) and intermediate (through an area in between). This set-up works well for people who want to wear their glasses all the time and need to be able to read things up close on and off throughout their day.

As most of the lens is dedicated to distance, and only a small portion to near, this style of multifocal is not ideal for prolonged reading, especially if you read lying down or on your side.

Reading and work glasses

Separate reading glasses

For reading a good book, studying for exams or working on a detailed document on your desk, there is no substitute for a pair of dedicated reading glasses. They will provide clear, comfortable near vision, regardless of head position or how the glasses are sitting on your face. They will also minimise eye strain. It’s good to know that even if you wear multifocals for day-to-day activities, a separate pair of reading glasses is a very good idea.

Office glasses

If, like many people, you work in an office environment on a computer much of the day, traditional multifocals can be quite limiting. With over half the lens given over to distance vision, your computer and desk work are limited to what you can see through a small part of your lenses. Reading glasses don’t provide the solution either, as they are usually set up for close work and not ideal for the intermediate distance to a desktop computer.

The solution? A pair of ‘office’ multifocals. These are specifically designed for office work and have half the lens dedicated to intermediate (desktop computer) vision, and the other half to near (reading documents) vision. These are very popular. They are even available with a small zone for distance so you can still see across the boardroom. Many people simply look over the top of them to see in the distance.

Choosing a frame

Multifocals have to provide clear vision at a range of distances, depending on which area of the lens you’re looking through. They therefore need to have enough room in them for these zones. A classic mistake with multifocals is choosing a frame that is simply too small (or too shallow) to be able to include these zones.

Your optometrist will discuss your visual needs with you prior to recommending the best possible lens for your needs. They will advise the optical dispenser of the best multifocal lens for you and they will help you choose an appropriate frame. Modern lenses are very sophisticated and can fit a lot into a very small space, so you will still have a wide range to choose from.

The most important bit…

Regardless of the design of lens or the frame selection, the most crucial part of achieving multifocal success is what happens next. A series of measurements will be taken by a trained and experienced optical dispenser (or optometrist). These measurements must be taken accurately, and, crucially, with the frame sitting correctly on your face – the way you like to wear it and with any adjustments made to the fit or nose-pads, temple length etc. If not, your new lenses will not sit in exactly the right spot in front of your eyes and you’re in trouble…

Tailoring your multifocals

No other type of spectacle lens causes more trouble than multifocals. In order to do their job, it’s essential that they are perfectly tailored to your requirements; not only does the design need to suit your exact needs, but the measurements need to be taken in a very particular way by a professional.

Types of multifocals

Multifocals work a treat when they are worn in the way in which they were originally measured up. Over time, the fit may change: they may become loose and slip down your nose or they may get knocked around so they don’t sit straight on your face. A simple adjustment every 3-6 months will ensure yours sit in the perfect sweet spot on your face. Your optometrist or dispenser will usually be very happy to provide this service.

Multifocal sunglasses

People often assume that multifocals are only available in clear lenses and they just put up with the inconvenience of not being able to read when they are wearing their sunglasses. But more and more sunglasses are now available with multifocal lenses. Several brands, such as Maui Jim and Serengeti offer their own branded lenses in multifocal prescriptions. And the good news is that these are available in all but the most wrap-around styles. Across the board, fashion sunglasses from Tom Ford to Prada, can be fitted with multifocal lenses in your prescription.

Multifocals for children

The global epidemic of myopia (or short-sightedness) has meant a huge increase in the number of children needed glasses for distance. But one of the effective ways to slow the progression of this eye condition is for them to wear multifocal glasses or contact lenses, allowing them to see clearly in the distance, while relaxing their eyes for close work. Other effective myopia control strategies include atropine eye drops and ortho-k contact lenses.

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