Bifocals are glasses or contact lenses that have two prescriptions in each lens that help people see objects both near and far. People with conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism (all over blurry vision) and more commonly presbyopia (vision problems caused by aging) are typically prescribed bifocals or multifocals.
At one time, anyone requiring the use of bifocals had no choice but to wear glasses. It wasn’t until the last couple decades that people who needed bifocals had the option of choosing bifocal contact lenses.
As with other contact lenses, bifocal contact lenses are available in both soft materials and rigid gas permeable materials. In fact, certain bifocal contact lenses are available in a disposable format allowing wearers the convenience of throwing the lenses out at specified intervals – even daily disposable bifocal contact lenses. In general, there are three types of bifocal contact lenses: aspheric, concentric and translating.
The aspheric contact lens functions much like bifocal eyeglasses where the powers are segmented between the top and the bottom of the contact lens. With a gradual change in lens power, this type of lens allows the wearer to see clearly at any distance. Concentric contact lenses contain two or more rings of power to correct the wearer’s vision – one in the center and an outer ring. Each ring contains a different power to compensate for both nearsightedness and farsightedness.
Translating contact lenses are opposite of the aspheric contact lens in that the correction for near vision is on the bottom and far vision is on the top. In order to keep the contact lens from rotating when you blink as most contact lenses do, the bottom edge of the bifocal lens is usually flat.
Believe it or not, as early as the late 1700′s Benjamin Franklin created the first pair of bifocals in the form of eyeglasses and began a transformation in vision correction. Today, the development of bifocal contact lenses has revolutionized the correction of vision impairments more commonly associated with aging – not to mention made huge strides in the corrective eyewear fashion world. In general, if you’re finding that you need to hold menus, magazines and other reading material farther from your eyes in order to see them clearly it might be a good time to reach out to your eye doctor to see if you are a candidate for bifocal contact lenses.
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