I don't understand how to use bifocals! (and other eye issues)
February 20, 2013 12:12 PM   Subscribe

I spend most of my work day looking at a computer screen, and several of the "off" hours as well. I have been having major league headaches during the day that I think is related to my vision and the (prescription) reading glasses I've had for a couple of years.

I went to 2 different eye docs recently (yes, 2) and given nearly the same prescription for bifocals. The most recent doc said I am probably getting the headaches because of the distance the computer screen is from my eyes. Get bifocals, looking through the main part of the lens for the computer screen and the lower part for up-close reading is what he told me.

So now I have the bifocals and, I can't see the screen clearly through the top (main) part of the lens! It's much fuzzier than my reading glasses! However, if I look out the window and across the street, it appears clearer (not much, but maybe a little). The lower "reading" part of the lens is extremely fuzzy looking at anything that is not less than 12" away from my head. These are regular bifocals, not transitions. I actually tried transitions first and couldn't stand them, so the eye doc said to try these with the lines. This is the prescription I was given:

OD SPH +1.50
OD CYL -1.50

OS SPH +1.00
OS CYL -0.50

I had the lenses checked and they are correct. So, was I told incorrectly by the eye doctor about how to use these? I'm really at a loss as to what is going on with all this and the eye doctors I've been to have been very unhelpful so I'm reluctant to go back. My headaches (mainly behind the right eye) haven't gone away and probably increased since I've been trying to wear 2 different sets of glasses.

Should I just get one pair of reading glasses from the prescription and one pair of "distance" glasses? If so, how would I enter this prescription in something like Zenni'?

posted by dukes909 to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Did you get standard bifocals or progressives? Also, how narrow are the lenses/frames?
I have progressive lenses and often have issues finding the correct focus point for viewing my screen. The narrower the frame, the worse this problem becomes.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:48 PM on February 20, 2013

Best answer: It sounds like the focal length is wrong, thus you do not get a sharp image because the focal point is not where it should be for you. Go back to the doctor and tell him/her what you have told us. You are owed proper focusing.
posted by Cranberry at 12:51 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry, I wrote "transitions" earlier, I meant "Progressives". The ones I have now are standard bifocals. The lenses are 1.5, if that means anything.
posted by dukes909 at 12:54 PM on February 20, 2013

I have progressives, and I tilt my head slightly back and look through the bottom of my lenses.

If you have really narrow frames, you'll have a harder time with it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:50 PM on February 20, 2013

I have progressives and found myself squinting and straining a lot after long periods at the computer. The solution for me was to get a separate pair of "computer glasses" (that's what the optometrist called them and recommended), and it's made a world of difference. Mine are designed for focusing at about 20", but you can measure the usual distance from your eyes to your screen and have the prescription customized for you.
posted by Right On Red at 2:06 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If you see across the street more clearly than your monitor, it sounds like your bifocals are made for your distance RX on the tops, not your computer RX. I would go back to the eye doctor and ask them specifically for a copy of your RX for 1: distance, 2: computers, and 3: reading. And then, yes, get a pair of single-vision glasses and use them at your PC. Be sure you tell your optometrist exactly how far you sit from your monitor.

I would recommend getting them from a local optician rather than sending away for them, because if you have a problem with them, a local optician will remake them for you. And adjust them. And measure your pupil distance.

I'd also recommend finding an optometrist who helps you.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:22 PM on February 20, 2013

I have progressives and my opthamologist told me "point your nose" when she gave me the prescription.
posted by brujita at 3:26 PM on February 20, 2013

Seconding Right on Red, I have dedicated computer glasses, and can't live without them.
posted by nanook at 5:20 PM on February 20, 2013

You've been getting very bad advice. Not clear whether your "eye doc" is the same party that provided the glasses. Anyway, competent eye professionals know about computer glasses and should have offered that option. One brand is Access, which is what I have. They cover my whole desk area as well as the computer.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:37 PM on February 20, 2013

This is not a paid plug, I swear... But my girlfriend has the same problem, and for years I've been after her to try Superfocus glasses, which look like regular glasses but have a little slider so you can instantly adjust the focus for what you're looking at. That testimonial video is by Doug Drexler, a Hollywood special effects guy who I first heard about because he worked on Star Trek and stuff. When he posted that video he got me interested in Superfocus glasses, and when my vision starts to go any year now I won't even mess with that conventional bifocal crap... I'm gonna get me a pair of them steampunk adjustable focus glasses! They even have a free trial.

Again, not a paid plug. Maybe Drexler is wrong and this company actually sucks, I don't know. But they seem really neat, and they've got to be better than fumbling around with multiple pairs of glasses every day.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:30 AM on February 21, 2013

Response by poster: @JimN2TAW - Yes, my "eye doc" opthamologist is the one who prescribed and provided the glasses.
posted by dukes909 at 10:51 AM on February 21, 2013

This is the reason why I got trifocals. Distance on top, reading on the bottom, and computer in the center. I was very clear when getting the prescription that I spend a LOT of time at my computer. And I was very lucky that my insurance covered pricey lenses that allowed for the largest possible area for the computer distance. You need to make sure that the lenses are tall and wide enough to allow for sufficient area for the third area, but mine are still cute and relatively small. I don't look like I just walked out with glasses from the 70s.
posted by QuakerMel at 4:46 PM on February 26, 2013

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