Benjamin Franklin Bifocals

As part of the aging process, our vision begins to change. It happens to all of us. At some point it becomes more and more difficult to see things close up and further away. Before long bifocal reading glasses become part of our vocabulary. Bifocal glasses have come a long way since being invented by Benjamin Franklin. Let’s take a look at where bifocal glasses came from and what we’re able to do with them now.

History of Benjamin Franklin Bifocals

Benjamin Franklin bifocals bear his name because he is believed to be the first person to wear a lens that allowed for both distance and close-up focus. There may have been others who were also thinking about the issue of needing a bifocal lens, but it is generally believed that Benjamin Franklin was the first person to create and wear them.

Benjamin Franklin Bifocals

The method he came up with to create a bifocal lens was to take the glass from two different lenses and cut them in half and fit them together. This would naturally produce a very pronounced and visible line at the intersection of the two lenses in the field of vision. However this would have been a small price to pay in order to be able to see clearly both close up and in the distance.

Different Types of Bifocals

Today, it is possible to have a wide number of glasses for a particular use with a great number of features. Some of the specialized uses that you can get glasses for include things like computer glasses, reading glasses or bifocal sunglasses.



There are even prescription goggles available for underwater uses such as snorkeling and diving so that you don’t need to try and wear a prescription lens underneath the goggle. If you have a special vision need, chances are that you will be able to get a prescription created for that need. It’s also very easy to get lenses that fulfill a more stylistic requirement rather than just a visual need, such as rimless eyeglasses.

Progressive Bifocals

Vision technology is progressing all the time. It’s no longer necessary to take two different lenses, cut them, and then put them in the same frame. In the early part of the 20th century, a method was devised to fuse the two pieces of glass together to reduce the transitional line in the field of vision. Now, however, most people opt for progressive bifocal lenses. These are made by starting with the distance vision lens thickness at the top and then progressively thickening the lens towards the bottom in order to achieve the desired corrective affect for close up visual work. The benefit of this is that there is no noticeable transition line for this type of lens, which is a very big step forward in vision technology.

Bifocal Contact Lenses

It is now even possible to get contact lenses that have bifocal properties, including ones that you can wear continuously for 30 days without the need to remove and clean them. Being able to wake up in the morning, blink a few times, and be able to see everything in focus without having to reach for a pair of glasses is a very freeing experience.

We’ve come a long way from the first Benjamin Franklin bifocals. Just remember next time you slip on your glasses to take a moment to say a silent thank you to all the people who made them possible.

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