Driving with bifocals

For those of you who wear bifocals while driving: Do you look at the instrument panel through the distance or close-up area? With my old glasses, I looked through the close-up part. With my new glasses, it’s sharper through the distance part.

What is the distance or close-up area?

If I’m wearing lined bifocals, then I use the bottom, close-up part. If I’m using line-less bifocals, I really don’t know as it’s more of a transition from the close-up to distance part of the glasses.

I’m starting to like the lined bifocals more and more. With the line-less, I tend to be moving my head a lot more and straining my eyes focusing especially when using the computer. With line-less, it’s either one or the other.

At work where I’m behind the computer all day, I have a set of single vision glasses that focus perfectly for the distance of the monitor. I highly recommend them if you usually wear bi-focals and look at a computer monitor all day. Just don’t forget to change them before going to a meeting or driving home!


I wear progressive-scan trifocals, and hate them with a white-hot passion. The only things I can focus on are whatever is pretty much straight in front of my glasses, so whatever I want to focus on, I have to turn my head to look straight at it. So, I don’t get a lot of detail when I glance down at the instrument panel, unless I lower my head to look at it, and then the road ahead is all blurry.

Next time I buy glasses, I’m getting a pair of driving glasses built for distance, and a pair of arm’s-length glasses for computers & TV watching, and I’ll just switch between them.

Skip the reading glasses altogether: I found these crafter’s clip-ons that work prettymuch like those flip-up sun clip-ons, but much smaller and lower-sitting. A little on the heavy side, but my glasses have my astigmatism built in, so any close-up correction will do the job.

All this time I thought bifocals were eyeglasses with two lenses. :smack:

I’ll just quietly sulk myself away from this thread.

No, no, that makes a certain amount of sense… Mono-cle, one … cle. Bifo-cal, two cals.

Man, I think I got ripped off on these trifocals…


You just need to find someone who knows how to fit them. If you don’t live in a state that licenses opticians, make sure the optician is ABO certified. (If they are, they’ll have a certificate to prove it, and be happy to show it to you.)

Tunnel vision when looking straight forward in progressives is a symptom of the optical centers being too high.

Blurry vision at a distance in the top of the lens that gets better if you raise your head (thus looking lower in the lens) can be a sign of being over corrected for distance, which actually makes you slightly farsighted. It could also mean the lenses were poorly made.

I glance at my drive panel using the lower, close-up part which just conveniently happens to cover that area anyhow.

I was really hoping my bifocals would give me a good view if my dash- mounted phone with the “close up” part—in fact, this was the primary reason I got them. Instead, it’s too far for the close area (unless I lurch way forward) and still too close for the rest. Plus I hate walking in them. Sigh.

With my newest glasses it’s definitely the upper part for the dash. I can see the speedometer okay enough (barely) with the lower but for a good look at something ("How far past the E-line is the gas gauge?) I have to use the upper.


When I’m driving, I use the distance area for everything. The close-up area is a waste of space.

So basically, bifocals are not helpful for driving—which is what I bought them for. Great.

I have a set of bifocals (with the line) and a set of progressives. Always make sure that your eye exam includes testing both your reading and distance vision, and that the optometrist doesn’t just slap a value in for the readers. When I had my prescription written, I specifically told the optometrist I wanted the closeup lenses to focus out to arm’s length, and she adjusted the strength accordingly.

It just so happens that arm’s length is the distance for both my computer monitor and my vehicle’s instrument panel, so it works out perfectly for me.

And yes, I like the lined bifocals better when I’m driving.

I have multifocals, I’ve no idea which bit I’m using, I just see everything as if my eyesight was normal. Probably the reading part, because I keep my head up looking at the road all the time. Maybe I drop a bit and it’s the middle, but definitely not the long distance bit.

I couldn’t afford progressive lenses, so it was bifocals or nothing. And I have high astigmatism. (I also got a pair of single-vision glasses, and I’m happy with them.)

The one thing I’m finding the bifocals useful for is a “two screen experience” situation, where I’m for instance watching the Vikings play live and looking at tweets about the game on my phone. Otherwise, I do not like them. Walking around with them is even worse than driving with them.

I’d buy a pair of just distance glasses for driving but things are changing Rx-wise so I’m going to wait until after my next exam to see if it’d be reasonable to do this.