Magnifying Bifocals

Hi all. At a recent show, someone came into my booth overnight and
took my beloved magnifying bifocals- nothing else. I have a vague
idea of who might be responsible, but that person’s journey to hell
is another story.

I ordered another pair immediately, but it was going to be a week
and a half. In the meantime, I had to revert to my Optivisor.
AAAAKKK! I didn’t fully appreciate the wonder of those glasses until
I had to go back to that sweaty uncomfortable thing.

I’ve raved about these before, but this experience made me want to
rave all over again. As a diehard tool junkie, I can say that the
single best purchase I ever made was this pair of glasses. If you
wear reading glasses and some Optivisor type thing, stop! You will
love these glasses so much, will never go back and will curse the
years you settled for anything less.

Someone else on Orchid originally posted about these, but here’s the
gist of it:

  1. Heavy duty wire aviator frames. I highly recommend a one-piece
    silicone nose piece if you can get it.

  2. The lens is your reading prescription, but you also have a
    bifocal segment that is twice your reading prescription.

  3. Tempered glass is tougher than plastic and are not too heavy. But
    you can get polycarbonate too.

In use these are SO much more comfortable, more versatile, and are
optically superior to the typical 2-component setup you’re probably
using. And the large lens makes these pretty good as safety glasses

I have also found these to be fantastic for viewing the LCD screen
on my digital camera. It’s so much easier to focus and see what
you’re doing in general, and that makes for better pictures.

Mine cost about $200, & if you make the same investment you will
never regret it.

Allan Mason

I use the reading glasses that are half lenses. They are a great
replacement for an Optivisor. They cost around $12 and are available
with ranges of between 2 X and 3.25 X magnification. The 3.25 X
works for me when I am doing my jewelry work. If I want to read
something I use the 2X glasses.

I wear a pair of 2 X on a cord around my neck. Seems the old eyes
need some magnification when I want to read anything. I don’t
recommend giving a hug when the glasses are hanging on the cord. That
is a great way to break the things.

They are so cheap I have several pair scattered around my house.

When push comes to shove and I need more magnification I add a
second pair on top of the first pair.

They don’t do anything for distance viewing. You can view distance
over the top of them.

Lee Epperson

You will love these glasses so much, will never go back and will
curse the years you settled for anything less.

Here’s another interesting product…a pair of plastic safety
glasses from the welding store which have a bifocal element built
in. They cost around $17.

Donna in VA

Allan, you are so right.I did this several years ago and like you
feel like it was one of my best investments and smartest moves :slight_smile: My
glasses are about 5X RX with uppers for distance just beyond arms
length,tri-focal for arms length,and bi-focal. Can’t work without
them. My Optivisor is good for only one distance,very close-up and I
occasionally use it,but for general work I like my “bench glasses”
and like yours are “aviator style”, lenses made of glass. So far have
found no situation where I regret having them made.As a side note, I
am probably a late comer,but I got tired of paying $5 & $6 for small
bottles of glass cleaner from the optical shop,so I got to looking
around the internet for the formula for the glass cleaner,and it
turned out to be nothing more than 50% water & 50% isoproponal (sp?)
alcohol.:frowning: John Barton

Can you post a picture. I don’t know what aviator glasses are…

Sharron Gray
Visual Arts Dept.
International School Dhaka

Allan; Are these widely available or do you have to order from a
specific store and if so who? thanks for the tip

Dave Owen

I wear progressive bifocals, and I’ve found that the Mag-eyes
magnifier visor combines well with them to give me magnification at
several focal lengths. By adjusting what portion of the bifocals I’m
using to look through the visor, I can get clear magnification from
close to beyond arm’s length. And I can easily look over it to see

Janet Kofoed

I got a pair of those plastic safety glasses also from a woodworking
store. They have them in different optic magnifications. They are
great, not only do you have that much needed ability to “see”, but
you have the safety glasses as well.

Ventura, CA

First it’s bifocals.

Then, because Optivisors won’t work with bifocals it’s magnifying
reading glasses and #3 Optivisors.

Then prescription magnifying reading glasses and #3 Optivisors.

Then higher diopter prescription reading glasses and #5 Optivosors.

Then #7. Then #10.

Then it’s 5X on a wide field microscope.

Then it’s 10X on a wide field microscope.

And next it will be new 20X eypieces for the wide field microscope.

Such is the path of the maturing metals artist.

Les Brown
L.F.Brown Goldwork

Les, In your path of the maturing metals artist you forgot to
mention Cataract Lens Replacement Surgery. It restores much of the
sight lost to aging eyes.

David Luck

Hi Sharron. Aviator glasses are typically larger lenses with a bar
of some sort connecting across the tops of the frames, with a
separate nosepiece below. Definitely not the coolest pair I own. But
check out Tom Cruise in Top Gun.

Others responded with cheaper alternatives to my $200 glasses. If
those work for you, go for it. But it is another example of similar
threads in the past comparing better tools with cheaper tools.
Depends on what you need, what you can afford, and how many times you
may have to replace a poor tool (That didn’t work as well to begin

Like I said, I’m a tool junkie. But my best tools are my eyes. For
me, it was a clear choice.

Allan Mason

Dave- I just went to my local optician, picked out some frames and
told him what I wanted. Since I opted for tempered glass, the process
takes longer than for plastic.

Allan Mason

Then, because Optivisors won't work with bifocals it's magnifying
reading glasses and #3 Optivisors. 

Les- I laughed at your sad but true optical progression. But I have
found that an Optivisor will work OK with these bifocals when I need
an occasional extra boost.

And unfortunately I will probably have to get new lenses at some
point. Ahh, the aging process, ain’t it fun?

Allan Mason


I will once again suggest that all of you folks consider Surgical
loupes in two grades One for general work and one for up close
stuff. I also have a scope when I need for the ridiculous stuss. Be
good to your eyes. I have used this combination for many years. They
are now available in a light weight titanium frame.


Allan describes, very well, an excellent magnification aid for many
of you. In addition to his comments there is a very easy and
inexpensive way to test/use this approach; use an old pair of your
reading glasses and buy a set of “stick-on” bifocals (+2.50). These
are soft vinyl and adhere with just a water film under them. You can
easily take them off and move 'em around to find the best position.
Last I heard they only cost about $25!

Dr. Mac

A month late, yes I am behind on many threads, but here goes.

Post cataract surgery, excellent vision in both eyes, close for the
left, distance for the right. Most visors are straight across, and
of no value at all to me.

Dr. Mac suggested doubling up on Dollar Store simple magnifications,
tried, but still need a different focus for each eye.

There was a time span between the left and right eye surgeries, so I
had to improvise at that time. I bought dollar glasses and knocked
out the opposite lens. Would love to get a frame such as those in
the past, with a screw enabling one to remove the lens. That would
make my life simpler.

My cataract correction, enables me to never need glasses for any
normal activity, unfortunately, making jewelry, is not normal