Eye-deology Vision Care: Edmonton Optometrists, Opticians and Eyewear

Bifocal Lenses - See Clearly At Two Distances

As we age, the lens of our eye becomes less flexible and thicker, and the surrounding muscle fibers become less elastic. This can make it difficult to read small print, such as in newspapers, magazines, books, and text messages. This normal loss of the ability to focus at close distances, which usually begins around age age 40, is called presbyopia. Bifocal lenses are a traditional multifocal lens design that includes two prepscription zones - a distance prescription zone and a reading prescription prescription - enabling individuals to see clearly as they age. They are more advanced and sophisticated than single vision lenses, and require precise measurement, customization, and craftsmanship by experienced professionals in order to provide clear vision at all distances. If you live in the Edmonton area and are in need of bifocal lenses, visit our optometrists and opticians today to begin seeing your absolute best.

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Traditional bifocal prescription lenses, also known as lined bifocal lenses, are eye glass lenses that have two distinct lens powers separated by a visible line. Bifocals are typically prescribed for individuals who need glasses for both near (e.g., reading) and far (e.g., driving) vision and have a stronger prescription for one of these distances. The history of bifocals can be traced back to Benjamin Franklin, who is frequently credited with inventing the lenses in the late 18th century. Franklin, who was both nearsighted and farsighted, found that he was constantly switching between two pairs of glasses - one for reading and one for distance - and grew frustrated with the inconvenience. He addressed his problem by cutting his distance eye glass lenses in half and attaching the lower half to the upper half of his reading glasses, creating the first pair of bifocals.

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Male Wearing Bifocal Eye Glasses

Bifocals work by having two prescriptions integrated one lens, with the near vision prescription at the bottom of the lens and the far vision prescription at the top. Traditional bifocal lenses are typically made with a visible line separating the two prescriptions, which allows the wearer to switch between the two prescriptions by looking through the appropriate part of the lens. Bifocal wearers simply look slightly downward along their cheek line to obtain clear reading vision. Looking straight, along the horizonatal plane, offers the clear distance vision needed for driving.

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Bifocal Lenses

Bifocal lenses from manufacturers such as Hoya, Zeiss, and Essilor, are often available at several different classes, each equipped with unique features and capabilities.

Flat Top Bifocal Eye Glass Lenses

  • Easy Adaptation
  • Width is 28 mm wide
  • Lined Bifocal
  • Distinct Jump Between Distance & Near
  • Easy To Find Reading Zone
  • Easy To Learn How To Wear

Executive Bifocal Eye Glass Lenses

  • Easy Adaptation
  • Reading Extends Across Entire Lens
  • Widest Reading Area
  • Lined Bifocal
  • Known As Franklin Bifocal
  • Heavier Than Standard Bifocals

Round Bifocal Eye Glass Lenses

  • Easy Adaptation
  • Round Shaped Reading Area
  • Smaller Reading Zone
  • Curved Lined Bifocal
  • Less Noticeable Line
  • Easy To Reach Reading Zone

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It is important to note that progressive lenses differ from traditional lined bifocal eye glass lenses. Bifocal prescription lenses are a traditional type of multifocal lenses that feature distinct focal zones. Bifocal lenses are for individuals who need glasses for distance as well as reading. Instead of having a separate pair of single-vision glasses for each activity, bifocals are often a more suitable solution. Unlike single vision lenses, bifocals have more than one point of focus or viewing area (distance - driving, intermediate - computer, and near - reading) separated by a distinct, visible line. Bifocals have two points of focus and represent a traditional multifocal lens design.

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Bifocal Eye Glasses

Due to it continuous, seamless design, progressive lenses offer wearers several important functional and aesthetic benefits:

  • Clear Vision At Two Distances. Lined bifocal lenses provides individuals with clear vision at both near and far distances, which can assist those who need eye glasses for multiple tasks.
  • Cost Effective. Lined bifocal lenses are oftem more cost-effective than other types of multifocal lenses, such as progressive lenses.
  • Ease Of Use. Lined bifocal lenses are easy to use, as the wearer simply needs to look through the appropriate part of the lens for the distance they are viewing.
  • Availability. Lined bifocal lenses are widely available and can be easily purchased at most opticals.

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Woman Wearing Progressive Eye Glass Lenses

  • Limited Prescriptions. Bifocals are only suitable for people who need correction for both near and far vision. They are not suitable for people with more complex vision issues, such as astigmatism.
  • Image Shift/Jump. Image shift/jump is when the clarity and apparent position objects abruptly change as the eyes pass across the visible lines in these traditional multifocal lenses.
  • Depth Perception. Bifocals can impact depth perception because the two prescriptions have different focusing points. This can make it difficult to judge distances accurately and be problematic for activities such as driving or sports.
  • Adaptation. Individuals must adapt to bifocals because the brain must adjust to switching between the two prescriptions. Dizziness and headaches are common during the adaptation period.
  • Aesthetics. The visible line between the two prescriptions in a bifocal lens is often deemed unsightly, especially when no-line progressive lenses are available, and a strong indicator of age.

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Standard vs. Office Progressive Lens Design

Compared to bifocal lenses, the continuous, seamless design of progressive lenses offer individuals several important performance and aesthetic benefits:

  • Clear Vision At All Distances. Progressive lenses provide clear, crisp vision at all distances - not just the 2 offered by bifocals.
  • Eliminates Image Shift/Jump. Progressive lenses eliminate the frustrating image shift/jump experienced with bifocals.
  • Ageless Appearance. Progressive lenses do not have the visible lines of bifocals, offering a more youthful appearance.
  • Advanced Individualization. Modern digital freeform progressive lenses can be personalized to an individual's favourite activities and unique lifestyle preferences.

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Traditional Bifocal vs. Traditional Progressive Eye Glass Lens

Hoya, Zeiss, and Essilor are the top bifocal lens designers and manufacturers on the planet. Hoya is a Japanese company, Zeiss is German, and Essilor is French. Essilor recently merged with Luxottica and is now known as EssilorLuxottica. Although these three companies are leaders in the eyewear industry, their bifocal lens offerings, features, and technologies differ. For example, Hoya is the only company that offers Harder Than Glass Scratch Resistance and substrate-matched lenses coatings. Meanwhile, Zeiss is the only company that offers glass lenses, which have better optics than plastic lenses.

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Custom Bifocal Eye Glasses in Edmonton

Contrary to what some online vendors may claim, crafting bifocal lenses that provide clear, high-definition vision requires numerous precise measurements. These measurements include pupillary distances for both near and distance focal lengths, the optical center, heights, vertex (the distance of the eye from the back of the lens), pantoscopic tilt (the angle of the lens from vertical), and wrap angle (the angle at which the lenses curve around the head). These measurements are unique to each person, taking into account individual biology, behavior, frame type, frame fit, and prescription. To get the most accurate and personalized measurements, it is important that the selected frame first be properly fitted and professionally adjusted and that modern digital tools be used.

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Digital Eye Glass Measurements

Multifocal contact lenses (including bifocal contacts) contain different power zones for near and far vision to correct for presbyopia as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness. Some multifocal lenses also correct for astigmatism. Bifocal contacts lenses include two prescriptions in the lens, while multifocal contact lenses incorporate a range of powers in the lens. These contact lenses are the equivalent to bifocal and progressive eyeglass lenses.

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Custom Bifocal Eye Glasses in Edmonton


Hoya Prescription Eyeglass Lenses
Zeiss Prescription Eyeglass Lenses
Essilor Prescription Eyeglass Lenses
Maui Jim Prescription Eyeglass Lenses


Individuals typically need to adapt to bifocal lenses over a period of 1-2 weeks. Over this time the brain, eyes, and head recalibrate and relearn how to work together to obtain the clearest vision at all distances with the new optics. However, if you feel that what you are experiencing is more than a matter of adapting, you may need a frame adjustment to realign the optics of your glasses to your eyes. If you purchased your eye glasses from our clinic and optical, adjustments are always complementary.

Eye glass packages (frames + lenses), that include bifocal lenses, typically begin at $250-$325 in Alberta (circa 2022). Bifocal lenses advertised for less are often older progressive lens designs with poor optical quality, that likely are not properly measured and fitted to provide the needed and desired performance (e.g. online vendors).

Eye glass frames need sufficient depth (i.e., vertical height) to accommodate the various focal zones (i.e., distance, and reading) of bifocal lenses. To determine if a frame has sufficent depth to accommodate a bifocal lens, heights must be measured while the frame is worn by the individual, as it is not the physical dimensions of the frame that are of interest, but rather the vertical distance from the pupil to the bottom fo the frame.


Searching for an optometrist in Edmonton? Our experienced Edmonton eye doctors use advanced modern technologies and devote upwards of 500% more time towards providing personalized patient care than elsewhere so that they can see more and ensure that you may never see less. Position yourself to see the future today with Edmonton's best eye care!

Doctor Jennifer Ash, Eye Doctor (Edmonton)

Dr. Jennifer Ash is the Resident Optometrist at Eye-deology Vision Care. Dr. Ash provides patient care 5 days a week. Read more about Dr. Ash.

Doctor Sarah Virji, Eye Doctor (Edmonton)

Dr. Sarah Virji is an Associate Optometrist at Eye-deology Vision Care. Dr. Virji regularly provides patient care Thursdays and Saturdays. Read more about Dr. Virji.

Doctor Ruhee Kurji, Eye Doctor (Edmonton)

Dr. Ruhee Kurji is an Associate Optometrist at Eye-deology Vision Care. Dr. Kurji provides patient care Tuesdays & Fridays. Read more about Dr. Kurji.

Doctor Jade McLachlin, Eye Doctor (Edmonton)

Dr. Jade McLachlin is an Associate Optometrist at Eye-deology Vision Care. Dr. McLachlin provides patient care 5 days a week. Read more about Dr. McLachlin.

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