Article Date: 12/1/2011



Readers Voice Their Opinions

Who invented the bifocals?

■ I couldn't help but notice the article “Aiming Your Practice for Presbyopia,” by Robert Murphy (Optometric Management, October 2011.) With all due respects, it is understandable that Mr. Murphy, a native of Philadelphia, would assume that a figure synonymous with the City of Brotherly Love, Benjamin Franklin, invented bifocal spectacle lenses, as he claims in the article.

However, several sources have debated whether he did in fact “invent” the bifocal or just was the first American to wear them. I have included a website that discusses this matter.

Food for optical thought!

Randall Bernstein, O.D.
Indianapolis, Ind.

Editor's note: The web page cited by Dr. Bernstein ( suggests that Franklin may have introduced the concept of bifocals to America, yet “it is at best uncertain (and arguably improbable?) that split bifocal lenses had a famous gentleman inventor.”

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Optometric Management, Issue: December 2011