Many people experience vision changes as they get older. The most common change people experience is a worsening of their close-up vision — a condition called presbyopia. Presbyopia can easily be countered with a pair of progressive reading glasses. However, this can make things tricky for people who also need correction for their distance vision.
Progressive lenses correct vision at near, far, and mid distances to ensure clear eyesight at every point.
Progressive lenses, also known as no-line multifocals, are a type of eyeglass lens. They provide a smooth transition from distant to near vision. Traditional bifocals have a visible line separating the distance and near prescriptions. But progressives have a gradual change in power from the top of the lens to the bottom.
Progressives are designed to correct presbyopia as well as other refractive errors. Presbyopia typically occurs after age 40 and causes difficulty focusing on near objects. They are also useful for people with astigmatism, nearsightedness, or farsightedness.
Progressives work by gradually changing the prescription power from the top of the lens (for distance vision) to the middle (for intermediate vision) to the bottom (for near vision). This provides a seamless transition from near vision to far vision and everywhere between.
The transition is achieved through a complex design process. It involves creating a precise curvature on both the front and back surfaces of the lens.
Prescription power at any given point on a progressive lens is determined by the degree of curvature at that particular point. Near the top, where distance vision is corrected, the curvature is relatively flat. As you move down the lens, the curvature becomes steeper, correcting for intermediate and near distances.
The progression of lens power is designed to mimic the natural process of accommodation. Accommodation is the ability of the eye to adjust its focus as objects move closer or farther away. With progressives, the wearer can see clearly at all distances without the need for separate glasses or bifocals.
Eye doctors recommend progressives for people who have difficulty focusing at multiple distances. This difficulty is typically due to age-related presbyopia. Presbyopia develops in individuals over the age of 40 and affects nearly everyone at some point in their lives.
Multifocals are also useful for people with nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. In these cases, progressives will transition from distance correction to near vision correction.
Those who perform activities that require clear vision at multiple distances may also benefit from progressives. Examples of this include reading, computer work, and driving.
Doing this helps the frame arms fit more tightly behind the ears, which can prevent them from sliding down the nose. Use the “guess and check” method to make sure you’re not over-adjusting.
It’s important to note that not everyone is a good candidate for progressives. Individuals who have certain eye conditions may not be able to use them. Some examples include having a high degree of correction or strong astigmatism. An eye doctor can help determine if progressives are a good option based on an individual’s specific needs and prescription.
Progressives offer several advantages over other lens types, such as bifocals and trifocals. The following are some of the main differences:
Single vision lenses are dedicated to correcting one distance throughout the entire lens. Someone who only needs correction for one distance would benefit from them.
But someone with myopia who then develops age-related presbyopia would need correction for two different distances. This is where multifocals like progressives have the upper hand.
Bifocals and trifocals have visible lines separating the different prescription areas. This can be distracting and give an outdated appearance.
Multifocals have a smooth and gradual transition from distance to near vision. This provides a more natural visual experience and gives a more modern appearance than bifocals and trifocals.
Additionally, progressives offer a wider field of vision than bifocals and trifocals. This allows for clear vision at all distances. Progressives can also be customized to fit the specific needs of each individual. They take into account the user’s prescription, visual habits, and other factors.
Like with everything, there are both advantages and drawbacks to wearing multifocals. Before committing to progressives, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and decide whether they’re right for you.
Progressives have several benefits for people who need correction at multiple distances.
No abrupt “jump” between corrective powers
People who wear bifocals or trifocals often experience “image jumping.” This occurs when you’re focusing on an object while switching between the different powers of the lens. The drastic change in prescription power can make the image appear to “jump” or move. Image jumping can be irritating to users and — in severe cases — can lead to nausea.
Multifocals seamlessly blend the different corrective powers. This means no drastic changes and no image jumping.
Only one pair of progressive glasses is needed for all corrective needs
Using one pair of glasses for distance correction, then switching to progressive readers for near work is annoying, to say the least. Progressives correct distance vision, near vision, and everywhere in between. So, you only need one pair of glasses for all of your adventures.
Sleek, smooth appearance (no harsh lines)
Progressives offer a more seamless transition than bifocals and trifocals. A good example of this is to compare color blocking to a color gradient. This smooth transition isn’t only beneficial from the user’s perspective, but also from the observer’s.
Multifocal lenses look just like single-vision lenses from the outside. No drastic prescription changes; just clear, seamless vision.
While multifocals have a lot of great qualities, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider, such as:
The time it takes to adjust to them
Adjusting to progressives can take some time and requires the wearer to re-learn how to “look” directly at what you need to see. The rule of thumb is to point to the desired viewing area with your nose rather than with your eyes.
This new way of focusing takes time to become accustomed to, which some people may find frustrating.
They can be expensive
The cost of progressives can be higher than other lens types. While there are certain factors that affect the price, on average, progressives are going to cost more than other options.
For some people, this additional cost may not be worth it, especially if your distance prescription is minor.
Temporary lens distortion
Some individuals may experience distortions or other visual issues due to the complexity of the lens design. This can cause them to feel like they’re “in a fishbowl” when scanning their visual field. Rest assured, this is often temporary as you’re adjusting to your new lenses.
The level and duration of distortion can depend on the quality of the lenses. The quality of multifocals can vary based on factors like prescription strength, lens design, and manufacturing quality.
Overall, the choice will depend on an individual’s specific needs and preferences. It is important to work with a qualified optometrist or optician to select the best multifocals for your individual needs.
The cost of multifocals can vary depending on factors, such as the lens material, the prescription, and the type of design. Some approximate cost ranges to give you an idea:
Basic option: These are made with a standard design and may have limitations in the range of vision they provide. They typically cost around $100 to $200.
Mid-range option: These offer a wider range of vision and better clarity than basic options. They may have more customization options available and cost around $200 to $400.
Premium option: These are made with advanced designs. They provide the widest range of vision and the clearest optics. They may have additional features such as anti-reflective coatings or photochromic technology. Premium lenses can cost upwards of $400 to $600 or more.
It’s important to note that these are general cost ranges. The cost of multifocals can vary based on factors such as the specific prescription and lens material. Additionally, the cost of frames, coatings, and other add-ons can increase the overall cost of the progressive eyeglasses.
Consult with your optometrist or optician to get an accurate cost estimate for your progressives.
Adjusting to progressives can take some time, and it may require some patience and practice to get used to the new visual experience. Check out theses tips to help you adjust:
Wear your glasses regularly. The more you wear your progressive glasses, the more quickly you’ll adjust to the new visual experience. It’s important to wear them consistently and not switch back and forth between your old glasses and your new ones.
Use the correct posture. To find the optimal viewing area on your progressive lenses, you’ll need to learn to move your head rather than your eyes. Try to maintain a natural posture with your head upright and your eyes looking straight ahead.
Start with simple activities. When you first start wearing your multifocals, start with simple activities like reading or using the computer. As you become more comfortable, you can gradually try more challenging activities like driving.
Give yourself time. Adjusting to multifocals can take some time, and it’s important to be patient with yourself. It may take a few days or even a couple of weeks to fully adapt to the new visual experience.
Get a proper fitting. Properly fitting glasses can help ensure that your lenses are aligned correctly. This can make it easier to find the optimal viewing area. Work with your optometrist or optician to get a proper fitting for your progressive glasses.
Consider a gradual transition. If you’re finding it difficult to adjust, you may want to consider a gradual transition. You can do this by wearing glasses with blended lenses, or a bifocal or trifocal design first, before moving on to full progressives.
Remember that everyone’s experience with progressives is different, and it may take some time to find the best option for your needs. Be sure to communicate any issues or concerns with your optometrist or optician so they can help you find the best solution.