In my native language, french, people referring to progressive or multifocal eyeglasses would say: "Je porte des foyers".

I'm pretty sure "I'm wearing fireplaces" or "I'm carrying fireplaces" as Google Translate suggests is incorrect. But it feels like "I'm old, I need multifocal lenses" seems too heavy for everyday usage. Is there a simpler common name for those glasses?

2 Answers 2


I believe technically foyer (optique) translates as 'point of convergence of a lens' or in one word 'focus'. Google Translate is useless for specialised words. Use a dictionary.

Foyer 8. (Optics, Photography) focus lunettes à double foyer bifocals ⧫ > > bifocal glasses

Collins Dictionary (French-English)

Lunettes (or verres) à double foyer (classiques) are ordinary bifocal glasses, with distinct sections for near and distant viewing

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You also have lunettes à triple foyer classiques which have three sections (near, medium distance, farther distance). These two are sometimes called 'multifocal' glasses. More modern glasses have lenses which vary from top to bottom without distinct zones, and these are called 'varifocal' glasses. They look just like ordinary glasses and are often called lunettes/verres à foyer progressif in French. There is nothing 'heavy' about saying 'I wear multifocal glasses'.

  • 1
    I would use 'focus' (which is the Latin for 'hearth', hence Google Translate's 'fireplace'). Sep 21, 2021 at 15:42

Spectacle lenses with a distinct 'reading' section are bifocals and the 'progressive' kind are varifocals.

  • So "My mom was really unhappy when she realized she'd need reading glasses" would be understood and feel natural?
    – Jeffrey
    Sep 21, 2021 at 15:30
  • 2
    Yes, it would - but reading glasses are specs with only magnifying lenses, for people who don't need glasses for distance vision. Sep 21, 2021 at 15:38
  • @Jeffrey in the UK reading glasses can be sold anywhere, you just test yourself and pick the pair with the right strength whereas varifocals you go to a high-street optician are tested and they dispense them.
    – mdewey
    Sep 21, 2021 at 16:18

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