Bifocal Glasses: How bifocal glasses work


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Confused about Bifocals?


In this guide we're going to demystify all things bifocal.


Benjamin Franklin is widely regarded as the Bifocals glasses inventor. Bifocal glasses use a dual corrective lens which is divided into two sections. Generally, the upper section of your bifocal lens helps you focus on distanced objects whilst the lower section of the lens is used for close-reading.

Bifocal glasses are characterised by their two lens sections. These two sections are defined either by a horizontal ‘split’ across your lens or by a ‘D’ shaped window through which you can focus on nearby objects.





Bifocal lenses are far simpler with a clear divide between two separate corrective lens powers. For some people, the simplicity of bifocal glasses is preferable as varifocals can be difficult to get used to.

Varifocals graduate between distance correction and near correction to create a seamless, undivided lens. Otherwise referred to as progressive lenses, varifocals progress between two corrections from the top to the bottom of the lens.




Single vision lenses provide visual correction for one focal point. These are used to singularly correct one type of viewing, near or distance, hence their name.

If you require correction for two focal points, bifocal glasses are the perfect solution. Using a dual corrective lens with two prescriptive sections, bifocal eyeglasses are a popular option to help you with two focal points.




Your choice of bifocal glasses is largely determined by your taste and style. However, due to the shape and thickness of your lens, it’s best if you opt for a rectangular thick-rimmed frame. Chunky acetates frames work well with bifocal lenses to help hide their thick edges.

For bifocal glasses, we proudly handmake an array of acetate glasses frames. These work perfectly with bifocal lens types. Hit the button below to explore our collection.


Bifocal FAQs

Bifocals vs two pairs of glasses

This is all about personal preference. For some people, one pair of bifocal glasses are the perfect answer for correcting two focal points; near and distance. However, it’s equally common for people to rotate between two single vision glasses frames to aid near and distance viewing. This decision is usually determined if you want to have two pairs of glasses for two different purposes or if you’d rather opt for bifocal lenses.

Bifocal Glasses for driving

You can drive whilst wearing bifocal glasses. However, if you regularly drive for long periods, you should consider investing in single vision glasses. They provide better overall vision without the lens distortions experienced from wearing bifocal or varifocal eyeglasses.

When to get bifocals

Bifocal glasses help to correct your focus for two seperate focal points. This dual-correction lends itself to stationary situations where you don’t need to move around very much but need to focus on multiple distances from a static viewpoint. This tends to be in the office or at home watching TV. If, however, you frequently move around, drive for long periods or suffer from dizziness or disorientation, your best avoiding bifocal eyeglasses.

How do bifocal glasses work? 

Bifocals glasses work using two separate prescriptive sections in each lens. These prescriptive strengths are likely to vary between your eyes resulting in four separate lens sections. Each lens is divided into two distinctly separate segments which create a horizontal split across the front of the lens. Usually, the lower section of the lens if for close reading whilst the upper section of the lens is for distance viewing. The wearer can look through the upper or lower section of the lens depending on the distance which they’d like to focus on.

What are bifocal glasses used for?

Bifocal glasses are best suited for static-based viewing. If you are looking at objects, near and far from a stationary position such as your work desk, bifocals yield helpful dual distance correction. This lens-type is favoured working environments where you remain in one location and need help to visually focus on tasks such as reading but also to focus on distanced objects such as a clock on a faraway wall.

Are progressive lenses better than bifocals?

This question is entirely subjective and depends on the wearer's preference. In terms of variable focal ability, progressive lenses offer a greater spectrum of correction between near and far focal points. Bifocal lenses are comparably more simple as they only have two focal capabilities; near or far. Whilst it may seem that progressive lenses are better, bifocals are a simpler lens format.

are bifocals more expensive?

Due to their dual sighted requirements and overall intricacy, bifocal glasses are more costly than single vision or reading glasses. In essence, bifocal glasses have a total of four separate prescriptions integrated specifically into the lenses. Depending on your required prescription, the costs can vary. At Banton Frameworks, bifocal lenses start at £60 including anti-scratch and anti-glare lens coatings.

What is the difference between Varifocals and bifocals?

People sometimes assume varifocals are bifocal glasses without lines. However, varifocal lenses graduate between two focal points between the top and the bottom of the lens. This gradient otherwise knows as progression, allows the wearer to find the best point of focus in the lenses spectrum of focal power. Bifocals lenses do not have a gradient between near and far focal points and instead have two separate lens sections. This gives bifocal glasses their inherent split-line across the lens which divides the focal sections for near and far distance viewing. If you’d like to understand more about different types of bifocal glasses lenses or about lenses in general, the Vision Council have written a descriptive guide which can be accessed here.