Are you afraid of Progressive Lenses?

“They’re horrible! They gave me headahces.”

“They made me nauseous!”

These are some of the comments you may have heard when well meaning friends and family have shared their progressive lens nightmares with you. Technology, however, has come a long way since your mother’s progressives.


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Presbyopia and You (and me, and all of us…)

There’s a reason why the “BIG 4-0” is called that, and my guess is because you can pretty much guarantee that once you turn 40, a change in vision called prebyopia is right around the corner. Typically by the age of 42-45 we universally start to notice a change in our ability to focus at close distances. Some of us (those of us who are nearsighted, or myopic,) are lucky enough to be able to take our glasses off to read when this happens. Nevertheless, it happens to the best of us.

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Thankfully, with the advent of the latest technology in lens design and manufacture, turning the BIG 4-0 doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Advances in Freeform digital lens technology, combined with measurements and discussions with an astute, experienced Optician, can almost guarantee a successful fitting

All lenses are not Created Equal

Did you know that there are over 500 progressive lens designs on the market? Designs range from “traditional” old school variations at the lowest price, through “digital” lenses all the way to Freeform Digital lenses. Freeform Digital lenses, such as the Zeiss Individual 2 require taking additional measurements (face form, pantoscopic tilt, vertex distance), as well as information about the user’s daily activities. A lens is then designed around these parameters to get the best possible vision with the least amount of aberration (distracting, unwanted visual phenomena that come with lens manufacture).

Have you been asked which type of design you prefer?

Most wearers haven’t. Why not? The reasons can vary from the Optician (hopefully you’re being fit by an optician!!) being afraid of overwhelming you with choice or price, to lack of knowledge, to a small selection of choice available to offer (for example at most big chain stores).

Are you ok with someone making this decision for you without all of the information? Maybe you are, and sometimes things turn out just fine this way. People are nothing if not adaptable.

Sometimes, however, people are unimpressed with their progressive lenses and generalize this disappointment to all progressive lenses. You have no idea how many times I hear, “I couldn’t get used to progressives.” This could indeed be true, but more often it’s caused by a lack of skill and knowledge.

Design is not all that matters

Earlier I mentioned a series of measurements that are required to fit progressive lenses. I am here to tell you that it is quite possible, and even easy, to make a mistake. These measurements have to be taken carefully, keeping in mind the wearer’s natural body posture and head motions. If you’ve previously had trouble with progressive lenses, chances are quite good that the measurements could be the culprit.

Reasonable Expectations

Even with fantastic technology, progressive lenses are still not perfect. There is still distortion to the periphery (much less with advanced designs), and head movement is still required to find the “sweet spot” where your sharpest vision will be located. For someone who does desk work all day, a task specific pair of reading and / or computer glasses is never a bad idea.

Still Freeform progressive lenses are technology’s best answer to the vision and function closest to what your natural eye used to provide. They’re on your face when you need them, whether it’s to see distance, computer or reading distances. Because they’re on your face, they tend to get lost or broken far less.

The best news for those who are nervous about progressive lenses is that the better ones offer a non-adaptation warranty. If you truly cannot get used to them, then most dispensaries will switch you to another lens at no charge, be it a lined bifocal, computer progressives, or single vision lenses. Some presbyopes are able to adapt immediately, while others take a few weeks, but 99% can and will get used to them if they’re motivated to do so; you’ll be surprised how easy it seems once you do!