Bifocals

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Bifocals are eyeglasses with two distinct optical powers. Bifocals are most commonly prescribed to people with presbyopia who also require a correction for myopia, hyperopia, and/or astigmatism.

Contents

History

Ben Franklin is generally credited with the invention of bifocals. Serious historians have from time to time produced evidence to suggest that others may have preceded him in the invention; however, a correspondence between George Whatley and John Fenno, editor of The Gazette of the United States, suggested that Franklin had indeed invented bifocals, and perhaps 50 years earlier than had been originally thought[1]. Since many inventions are developed independently by more than one person, it is possible that the invention of bifocals may have been such a case. Nonetheless, Benjamin Franklin is certainly among the first to wear bifocal lenses, and Franklin's letters of correspondence suggest that he invented them independently, regardless of whether or not he was the first to invent them[1].

John Isaac Hawkins, the inventor of trifocal lenses, coined the term bifocals in 1824 and credited Dr. Franklin.

Construction

Original bifocals were designed with the most convex lenses (for close viewing) in the lower half of the frame and the least convex lenses on the upper. Up until the beginning of the 20th century two separate lenses were cut in half and combined together in the rim of the frame. The mounting of two half lenses into a single frame led to a number of early complications and rendered such spectacles quite fragile. A method for fusing the sections of the lenses together was developed by Louis de Wecker at the end of the 19th century and patented by Dr. John L. Borsch, Jr. in 1908.

Today most bifocals are created by molding a reading segment into a primary lens and are available with the reading segments in a variety of shapes and sizes[citation needed]. The most popular is the D-segment, 28 mm wide[citation needed]. While the D-segment bifocal offers superior optics, an increasing number of people opt for progressive bifocal lenses.

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