Friday, September 12, 2008


As of today, I'm wearing bifocals. :)

I tried once before (in February 2007), getting a pair of progressive (no-line) bifocals, but I couldn't stand them.

My normal workstation is two 19" LCD monitors side-by-side; with my regular glasses, the entire sweep of workspace left-to-right is in focus through my lenses, but with those progressive bifocals I had to move my head (not just swivel my eyes) from side to side to read text on both monitors.

I hated that, and took the bifocals back for a refund (I usually buy my glasses from LensCrafters, and they do indeed cheerfully honour their no-questions-asked money-back guarantee).

I should have checked Wikipedia beforehand, because I was not a good candidate for progressives. In its entry on Progressive lens, Wikipedia says:
Because of the relatively narrow vertical band of prescriptively accurate optics characteristic of progressive lenses, wearers may have some difficulty becoming used to the co-ordination of horizontal head movement necessary to retain focus when reading across a computer screen or a paper page. This is particularly true when the reading add power is strong (+2.00 or above). The experience has been described as "moving your head back and forth as if you are watching a tennis match".
And that's exactly what it felt like!

Well, in March of this year (2008), Carolyn and I had a wonderful dinner with my opthalmologist, Gerald I. Goldlist and his wife Leza; Gerry served as a consultant on Wake (which, as those who are reading the current serialization of the book in Analog know, has a lot to do with eyesight). Before dinner, he gave me a new prescription, but I've just been too darned busy (and on the road too much) to get if filled.

But I finally did, and today I picked up the glasses. And, so far, they seem excellent. It's wonderful to be able to read a book or menu (Carolyn and I went out to Canyon Creek, one of our favourite restaurants, after picking up the glasses), and to be able to look up at my monitor, then down at my keyboard (I never can find the damn ampersand without looking for it), with everything in focus.

Pictured above and below: the frames I chose, Brooks Brothers BB415T Titanium. I expect these to now become as much of a fashion trend as Sarah Palin's sexy-librarian glasses are ... ;)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


At September 13, 2008 12:00 AM , Blogger George (aka Dupa T. Parrot) said...

Hi, Rob,

I've bee wearing progressive lenses for a considerable number of years.
It took a few days to get used to them.

Previously, I wore bifocals.

George (aka Da Boid)

At September 13, 2008 12:03 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

I gave them more than a few days, Dupa, before returning them. They just weren't for me. But, so far, the regular bifocals are working just fine! :)

At September 13, 2008 1:48 AM , Blogger gdtownshende said...

I had to get bifocals a couple of years back, and chose to get progressive lenses. It took me more than a few days to get used to them, but I eventually did. What I found strange at first was the visual distortion that I experienced to the left and the right when I would move my eyes instead of my head.

One reason I ended up getting bifocals was that I kept finding myself removing my glasses to read. Now, even though I've got glasses to correct that problem, I still find that I prefer to read with my glasses off.

I'm not sure if that makes me a creature of habit, or rebellious, or both.

(By the way, you can call me either Gary, or GT. Most friends and acquaintances who want to keep things short call me GT.)

At September 21, 2008 9:24 PM , Blogger Eve said...

Here is the thing though--if you have more than +2.00 add as I do, computer distance may not be quite right for the mid-distance part of your progressive lenses. I have to tilt my head way back to have acceptable mid-distance vision. So though I have progressive lenses, that I wear now and then, I took the time and considerable effort to learn to wear multi-focal contact lenses.

At November 10, 2008 7:11 PM , Blogger readingdiva said...

I got my first new progressive lenses the end of August, couldn't function at work with them and tried for several days. It was horrible, I am a salesperson and didn't know where to look when i used the cash register. I was so frustrated, took them back and my dr replaced them with a second type of progresssives, still no luck. It was very confusing to see and I almost tripped several times. Now I have them switched out for regular bifocals. I didn't think I would have to get used to those, but yes, even with regulars there is a period of adjustment. I have had them on a little over a week now, have not switched back to my old glasses, and am slowly getting used to the steps and curbs and such. If I would have known there would be such a hassle, I would have kept my old glasses and just moved my book farther and farther out until i couldn't see anymore I guess.....not a fun experience for me, but maybe I am getting over the hump. Some people say it takes up to a month or so even with the regular old-fashioned bifocals, however, mine are modern- looking!

At November 10, 2008 7:13 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

I've been wearing my bifocals for almost two months now, and love them. The only thing that's disconcerting is going down stairs, because my feet are out of focus. (I may be a little more nervous on stairs than most people, because I had a very bad fall down a staircase several years ago, and badly messed up my ankle.) Other than that, they're great.


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