You’re all excited; you’re picking up your new multifocal glasses; you’re going to be able to read that small print again and see your computer properly, not to mention how good you’re going to look in them.
But as you put them on you feel the world tilt, your vision feels strange and you’re not so sure anymore. Things that should be clear seem a bit blurred or distorted.
If you’ve had this experience you’re not alone. In fact, most people take some time adjusting to their new glasses, especially if they are multifocals. What can you do about it?
Choose the right frame and the right multifocal lenses
One thing to keep in mind is that some frames are more suited to multifocal lenses than others. A lot has to fit into this type of lens – correction for at least two, if not three different distances – for example, distance, intermediate and near. A very shallow frame might look great on your face but may simply not have enough space to allow you to see at a range of distances. Frame trends change all the time and thankfully we are seeing a move away from very shallow frames to larger designs with more space.
The spectacle lens design is also very important.
Some multifocals that are designed for computer-use may only have intermediate and near zones, so it is essential that you discuss your needs with your optometrist at the time of prescribing. The type of computer you use – desktop or laptop / tablet – as well as the distance from your eyes and the height at which it is positioned, are all factors that need to be considered in choosing the right multifocal lens.
Make sure the glasses frame is fitting properly
Multifocals only work properly if they are correctly positioned in front of your eyes. Different parts of the lens are focused for different distances. There will be a sweet spot for each task – reading, computer and distance – and you need to be looking through the right part of the lens for the task.
Your optometrist or dispensing optician should ensure your frame is fitting properly before taking any measurements. Even a simple adjustment to the nose-pads or frame sides can change the position of the lenses enough to cause problems. Having all of these adjustments done prior to measuring up will help avoid problems. The other thing that’s important to bear in mind is how you like to wear the frame. There’s no point in taking measurements, no matter how careful they are, if the frame has been placed on your face in a way that is different from how you like to wear them. It is best to put the frames on yourself in the way you like to wear them before they are measured up.
Some people like them firmly pushed up on the bridge of their nose and tight behind the ears so they are very secure. Others like them to sit a little lower and looser on their nose. Talk to your optometrist or dispenser about how you like to use the glasses. Do you read in bed? Sitting up or lying down?
Some people like to spread the newspaper out on the floor; others like to read lying down. These are all important discussions to have to ensure multifocal success.
Have realistic expectations
Give it a few days! The human brain has an amazing capacity to adapt to change. But it doesn’t always happen overnight. If your glasses prescription has changed more than half a dioptre (0.5 D) or if you have changed from single vision reading glasses to multifocals (or from one multifocal design to another) it is perfectly normal for your new glasses to feel strange. The more you wear them the quicker you will adapt, so avoid relying on your old glasses too much. They will tend to feel like a comfy old shoe, while your new ones feel strange. However, if you put the old ones away for a week or two and try and wear the new ones as much as you can, you will adjust more quickly than if you chop and change between the old and new glasses.
Multifocals can’t turn the clock back to allow us to see how we used to see when we were thirty, but they do allow us to continue to see at a range of distances even after our natural focusing system has stopped working due to middle age. Choosing the right frame and lens design and giving yourself some time to adjust to them can make all the difference in how successfully you wear them.