Considering Bifocals

As we age, some of us need bifocals for good close-up and distance vision. In this thread, cabinetmakers who've switched to bifocals discuss the fine points of different types. September 21, 2005

Age has finally taken its toll on my eyes. I need to get bifocals, but I am concerned that they will not do me much good in a cabinet assembly/installation situation. They have such a small area to look through for close up work. I fear I will forever be twisting my neck to get my head in the right spot. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
I believe you can have glasses made so that the bifocal (lower portion of the lens) is the predominate portion of the lens if you’re concerned about useable viewing area. I have had bifocals for about five years now and never had a problem with getting used to wearing the glasses. The only thing that has been a problem is when I sweat it drips down the lenses so I have to wear a sweat band in the summer months. You will also realize once you can see better just how bad you eyes have gotten and will appreciate seeing well again

From contributor F:
When I started to have to take my glasses off to see fine detail, I decided it was time to see about bifocals. Since I am person who appreciates good tools I quizzed the optometrist out concerning the differences between lineless and ground-in bifocals. It seems that if you think of your glasses as one of your tools, then get the ground in type.

If you are concerned about looking old, go lineless. If you get a good optometrist they will have you put on a sample pair of glasses so you can show them the position you are basically in when you need to see fine detail. This helps them to pinpoint exactly where on the lenses that they need to grind the bifocals. They do take a few days to get used to and you do have to hold your head a certain way to see things, but after a week or so you won’t even realize it.

From contributor J:
You can get bifocals ground to any shape and height. The lineless, Verilux is one brand name, has the narrowest field of vision in the near portion. Accountant’s bifocals will go all the way from rim to rim and have the widest field of vision. You can have them ground so that they are a larger or smaller percentage of the entire lense. Once you optometrist or ophthalmologist has prescribed them for you, a good optician can help select the right shape.

From contributor MD:
If your vision problem can be solved with contacts and monovision you might be happier than with glasses. It can take a month or longer to get used if it is even a possibility.

From contributor B:
I would suggest giving contacts and monovision a try. I'd been wearing reading glasses with my contacts for about a year, and couldn't read a tape accurately without the reading glasses. It was a pain with fine dust and all. It took me less than a week to adjust to the monovision, and I haven't looked back.

From contributor D:
I went straight to trifocals once I got myself in for an exam. The biggest problem I have is seeing close up above my head. It simply is not possible to crane my neck back that far. The door hanger/weatherstripper I use has his glasses ground for detail below and above his centerline. He can look up and see fine detail also. It’s a pretty obscure application, but a great solution. Be sure to find an optician you can communicate with. The tool analogy is great.

From contributor T:
I used to wear bifocals and at first found the dividing line was always in the way. On newer glasses I had the line lowered. You only need a small spot for detail viewing. My wife convinced me to try progressives and they are the way to go. I wouldn't get anything else now - and polycarbonate safety glasses are actually less expensive than regular glasses.

From contributor P:
I'm a big fan of multi-view computer reading glasses - progressive lens with about 50% of the rated magnification on the upper part, full power on the lower. They work great in a shop situation.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
They make glasses with bifocals on the top and bottom. They are especially useful for airline pilots where the pilots have gauges or indicators on the ceiling and also lower.