If you love spending time in the great outdoors, you probably don't want to lug around multiple pairs of glasses based on whether or not you want to read. It can be a drag switching between sunglasses and reading glasses, especially when they can easily get misplaced or broken.
There's a better alternative — bifocal sunglasses.
Bifocal sunglasses are a 2-in-1 solution
With bifocal sunglasses (also called bifocal reading sunglasses or bifocal sun readers), you get the best of both worlds. They let you shield the sun's rays from entering your eyes and let you focus on things up close.
Say you're outdoors enjoying the fresh air and sunlight, and during some activities, you may need to look up close at things. You could be:
Sitting with friends at an outdoor café and want to read the menu.
Riding in the car and need to glance at a map or GPS on your smartphone.
Playing golf and want to check the scorecard.
Lounging by the pool or on the beach reading a book and looking up to check on the kids.
With bifocal reading sunglasses, it's a win-win situation. No matter the outdoor activity, you can see far away and up close with little effort.
Function meets fashion with bifocal sunglasses
Bifocal sunglasses are a practical solution for those who want to be outside but not be bothered switching between regular reading glasses and regular sunglasses.
For the fashion-minded, they come in many styles, and choosing glasses can be fun. You can customize your look based on:
Frame color, from solid to patterned
Frame material, from metal to plastic
One of the best things about bifocal sunglasses? You're not announcing to the world that you need corrective lenses.
Today's bifocal sunglasses feature an almost invisible line between the different sections of the lens (or you can get no-line progressive lenses). The bottom third of the lens is magnified, so when you're looking down at something, you can see it in focus.
The upper section of the lens has no magnification for when you're looking straight ahead. The precise power of the magnified section of the lens is prescribed by an eye doctor.
Bifocal sunglasses are designed for presbyopia
It occurs as the eye becomes less flexible over time, and because of that, light coming into the eye is bent (or refracted) in a way that makes it difficult to focus on nearby objects. Your eye doctor may refer to it as a refractive error.
The good news is that presbyopia can be corrected.
Pros and cons of bifocal sunglasses
Bifocal sunglasses are a great option for people with presbyopia for many reasons. Some advantages include:
Many fashionable options – No matter your taste, there's a style of bifocal sunglasses out there for you.
Convenience – Why carry around multiple pairs of glasses when you can take one? Perfect for on-the-go lifestyles, reading sunglasses hold two powers in one lens.
Time-saving – With bifocal sunglasses, you can multitask — read up close and then just simply tilt your head up to see clearly into the distance.
Cost effectiveness – One pair of bifocal sunglasses is all you need to enjoy outdoor activities. This option can be less expensive than contact lenses.
Some disadvantage of bifocal reading sunglasses include:
Sudden jump in vision – Because two powers (one for reading and one for distance) are set together in the same lens, you may experience a disruption in your vision (a “jump”) as your eye adjusts from one segment of the lens to the other.
No intermediate vision – You may notice a "lost area" between the two powers. If you want to see objects in between the near and the far, ask your eye doctor about sunglasses with progressive lenses.
Small reading area – The magnified area at the bottom of the lens may be too small a field of vision for some people.
An eye doctor can prescribe bifocal sunglasses
Bifocal reading sunglasses are super convenient for reading outside. But first, you'll need to have an eye exam from the eye doctor to diagnose refractive errors and other eye issues. Then, take that prescription, choose a pair of frames and order your bifocal sunglasses. Once your new shades are ready, you're good to go!
The advantages and disadvantages of bifocal lenses. Bulletin de la Societe belge d'ophtalmologie. 1997.
Page published in July 2021
Page updated in July 2021