Bifocals for children with Down’s syndrome

What are bifocals?

Bifocals are glasses with a separate portion at the bottom of the lens. This portion helps make things clearer for near tasks, like reading, writing and puzzles.

bifocal vs standard glasses

Why does my child need bifocals?

Research has found that most children (over 70%) with Down’s syndrome struggle to focus clearly and accurately on things close up. This means near vision and print appears blurry. Bifocal glasses will make things clearer for close work.

blurry text

How do you know my child needs bifocals?

We use a test called dynamic retinoscopy. This is a test where we look at your child’s eyes with a torch whilst they look at a picture at a close distance. From this we can see if your child is focusing accurately for near tasks, and if they need bifocals.

When does my child wear the bifocals?

All the time so your child can gain the most benefit from the bifocal. To begin with, your child will have to adapt and learn to use the bifocal portion for near tasks.

Where do I get the bifocals?

You will be given a prescription to take to an Optician of your choice. You and your child will then be given help in choosing a frame that fits well and your child likes.

Do I have to pay for my child’s bifocals?

Your child will be given a voucher which should cover the cost of the lenses. However, there is sometimes an additional cost for the frame or for the lenses to be thinned if appropriate.

Further information

If you have any questions, please contact Optometry on 01271 311714.

More information can be found at:


Stewart RE, Woodhouse JM, and Trojanowska LD (2005) In focus: the use of bifocal spectacles with children with Down’s syndrome.
Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 25: 514-522

Woodhouse JM, (2010) Accommodation in Down’s syndrome- more questions than answers. Journal of Vision 10, 15: art. 34

Woodhouse JM, (2010) Vision in children with Down’s syndrome. Parent handout [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23 June 2014]


Posted in Eye Clinic, Paediatrics (Children's Health), Patient Information Leaflets and tagged , , , .

Last updated: May 3, 2016