Eyestrain is a common side effect of spending long periods of time in front of a computer screen. While bifocal glasses are designed to help you see better, the multifocal lenses can cause or aggravate eyestrain because the prescription may not be properly calibrated for the distance between you and the monitor, causing your eyes to work harder to focus. Add the glare from the screen, and you have a recipe for red, dry eyes and headaches. Here are a few things you can do to avoid this outcome if you do a lot of work on the computer and wear bifocals.
Get Bifocals Designed Specifically for Computer Work
The doctor will typically base your bifocal prescription on general use, meaning the upper portion will be for seeing distances 10 feet and beyond while the lower portion corrects for seeing things within 12 to 18 inches from the face. The problem is most computer monitors sit in the intermediate range, which is 20 to 26 inches from the face. As mentioned before, doing computer work while looking at the monitor through the top or bottom part of the bifocals can lead to eyestrain and associated symptoms.
As you can see, traditional bifocals are not very computer friendly. One way to fix the issue is to have bifocal glasses designed specifically for computer work. This usually involves the top portion being calibrated for the intermediate distance and the bottom portion corrected for short distances. This is a good option if you constantly switch between looking at the monitor and reading things that are closer to your face.
Just remember that computer bifocals don't correct for long distances, so you should not to use them when driving or trying to see objects over 26 inches.
Opt for Progressive Bifocals
Also sometimes called no-line bifocals, progressive glasses are an all-in-one option that can be used for short, intermediate, and long distances. The lenses in this type of bifocal gradually transition between the prescriptions for nearsightedness and farsightedness, offering a greater range for viewing objects at varying distances. This means you can use your bifocals for driving, reading, and doing computer work without needing to remove them.
One drawback with this type of glasses is it can be challenging to find the sweet spot that lets you view the computer monitor clearly. This is particularly true for small lenses because there isn't as much material available to allow for a greater range of transition as there is in large ones. So while you may prefer small glasses, you may need to opt for large ones if you want to use progressives comfortably while doing computer work.
Get Separate Single Vision Computer Glasses
If you don't do any switching between looking at the computer monitor and reading (e.g. primarily do data entry), the best option may be to get a pair of single vision glass specifically for computer use. Since it's just one Rx in the lens, you can get any type and style of glasses you want. They may also be easier to keep track of since you can simply leave them by the monitor to use whenever you're doing work on the computer.
On the other hand, you'll only be able to use these glasses for seeing things in the intermediate distance range. So you shouldn't use them for driving, and they probably won't be good for trying to see things up close.
Regardless of which option you ultimately choose, be certain to have an anti-glare coating put on your glasses. This will reduce the impact the light from the computer screen has on your eyes and minimize your risk of eyestrain. For assistance with choosing the right computer glasses for you, contact an optician. You can also visit sites like www.allabouteyes.com to learn more.