On January 17, we celebrate the birthday of one of our Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin. Ben was a man of many trades: an author, a printer, a political theorist, a politician, scientist, musician, inventor, statesman, a satirist, and a diplomat. He is credited for many inventions, including the lightning rod and Franklin stove, but the one I am going to talk about is his invention of bifocals.

Some people are nearsighted, and there is a glasses prescription for that. Some people are farsighted, and there is a glasses prescription for that. However, what if someone is both nearsighted and farsighted? How can someone with such eyesight (or lack thereof) be helped? Well, thanks to Ben Franklin, bifocals do the trick. They can contain two different prescriptions within the same lens, helping to correct both nearsightedness and farsightedness.

Of course, bifocals have come a long way since the days of Ben. There are the originally lined bifocals, and then there are progressive lenses, or unlined bifocals. These glasses have no visible line between the nearsighted and farsighted prescriptions, which gives the wearer an uninterrupted transition when looking at objects up close and then at something in the distance. Today, there are also trifocals, which have three sections to correct near, intermediate, and distance vision.

Another modern-day favorite (especially here at Sunglass Warehouse) is bifocal sunglasses. These have all the vision-helping properties of bifocals, but with a tinted lens that protects your eyes from UV rays. With many different styles, such as a full frame, half frame, metal frame, plastic frame, etc, there’s a pair for everyone.

Ben Franklin did a lot of wonderful things. He signed the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. He was a major figure in the American Enlightenment. He formed the first public library in America. He was a prominent abolitionist and civic activist. He was a very successful author. We certainly have many thanks to give to such a legend. He was one of the most influential Founding Fathers and helped shape our country into what it is today with many of his inventions, scientific studies, and philosophies. He never patented his inventions, and he wrote in his autobiography, “… as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.” That is why we are choosing to honor Ben on his birthday. He certainly is one of our heroes, especially since he invented the bifocals.