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Progressive Lenses: Who Is a Candidate & How They Work
Progressive lenses are also known as graduated prescription lenses or multifocal lenses. They combine multiple focal lengths in one lens, allowing a wearer to see at various distances with corrected vision.
Who Is a Candidate for Progressive Lenses?
People who need bifocal or trifocal lenses may benefit from wearing progressive lenses. Because progressive lenses smoothly transition between multiple focal lengths, they can correct vision when viewing something up close, far away, or in the middle visual field.
Wearing progressive lenses may help with a range of vision problems, and they may be appropriate for both adults and children. There was a study to determine if wearing progressive lenses improved the eyesight of children with esophoria. The results showed a slight improvement in vision after wearing progressive lenses.
Progressive lenses may be ideal for the following:
- Adults or children with myopia and work-related vision stress
- Adults over the age of 40 who are experiencing presbyopia
- People with astigmatism
- People who need multiple pairs of glasses or multifocal lenses
- Anyone who has problems seeing up close, far away, and in between
People who wear eyeglasses and desire a more seamless, stylish look might want to wear progressive lenses. There are no visible lines on the lens with progressive lenses as there are with bifocal or trifocal lenses.
Uses of Progressive Lenses
Progressive lenses may help to reduce fatigue and eye strain for adults and children who regularly work on a computer. They can help with the transition between up-close computer work and distance vision When working on tasks up close, progressive lenses bring a subject into clear view with crisp detail.
The transition between focal powers from the top to the bottom of a progressive lens is very gentle. Depending on where the eye focuses, the lens brings objects into focus that would be unclear because of astigmatism, nearsightedness, farsightedness, or presbyopia.
The upper section of a progressive lens is for viewing long distances. As the eyes move down the lens, the middle covers intermediate viewing, and the lower area is for seeing up close.
Types of Progressive Lenses
Different progressive lenses are designed to correct specific vision problems and improve eyesight in certain conditions. People who need corrective eyewear may be interested in progressive lenses for computer work, working up close, reading, or adapting to light changes.
These are types of progressive lenses:
For eyewear that doesn’t require a lot of customization, standard progressive lenses are ideal. They work for most people.
They have a higher vertical height than traditional lenses to allow sufficient space for the various transitions. As a result, this design may not work for shorter, smaller frames.
Because of daily reliance on computers and smartphones, there are progressive lenses designed for regular computer users. Customized to work well when viewing screens from a short distance, these progressive lenses are well suited for indoor and office settings.
If you choose computer progressive lenses, you will need other glasses for other activities.
For anyone who enjoys spending lots of time outdoors, this style of progressive lens promises reduced distortion and a more natural view. When looking through the bottom or sides of the lens, vision is clear, and it provides a smooth transition when looking downward or driving.
One of the most expensive types of progressive lenses is the premium option. It gives viewers a more expansive view and a smooth transition between focal strengths.
This type of lens is fully customizable and may consider the dominant eye’s strengths and weaknesses.
When someone needs lenses to fit into shorter frames, this progressive lens works well. Some people may have difficulty transitioning their eyes between focal powers when viewing through this lens. The eyes need to look through the center of the lens for best results.
With transition progressive lenses, you don’t need to keep a pair of prescription sunglasses around. When transition lenses interact with UV light, they darken, helping to shade the eyes. The lenses become clear again when you go indoors.
Benefits of Progressive Lenses
Progressive lenses offer many benefits, such as these:
Combined Lens Powers
One of the most significant benefits of using progressive lenses is that there is no need to carry multiple sets of glasses with different focal strengths around. You can see at all distances with one pair of glasses.
The seamless graduated transition in focal powers helps to protect the eyes from eye strain and fatigue.
Correction of Age-Related Vision Issues
As people age, they may experience more than one problem with their vision. While they may have astigmatism, myopia, or presbyopia when they are younger, they may develop presbyopia (age-related farsightedness) with age.
Prescription progressive lenses can correct for presbyopia as well as other vision issues easily. They address a combination of vision issues using different focal strengths on a single lens.
Clear Sight Without Lines
Some children and adults may have to wear bifocal or trifocal glasses to correct their vision. When wearing progressive lenses, there are no visible, defined lines on the lenses, which may guide or distract the eye. They look like standard glasses.
Downsides of Progressive Lenses
There are some potential downsides to progressive lenses, such as these:
It can take a couple days to adjust to progressive lenses. Most people who try progressive lenses get used to the lenses within a few days, but some people may experience dizziness, eye fatigue, or difficulties adjusting.
Progressive lenses are one of the most expensive types of corrective eyewear available, but most people feel the investment is well worth it.
Prepare to pay out of pocket for these specialty lenses. You’ll often have to pay the difference in price between standard lenses and this custom option. Medicare may not cover the cost of progressive lenses.
Tips for Adjusting to Progressive Lenses
There is an expected adjustment period with progressive lenses. Here are some tips to make the process easier:
Ensure a Good Fit
A licensed optician can ensure that progressive lenses match the needed prescription and that the focal strength is appropriate. As the eyes adjust to daily wear, prescription glasses should not contribute to eye strain, fatigue, headaches, or blurry vision. If you experience ongoing issues, talk to your eye doctor as something may be off with your prescription.
Wear Your Glasses Frequently
It takes some time to adjust to progressive lenses. Aim to wear your progressive lenses as much as possible, increasing the time they are worn as the eyes adjust to all-day use.
Give Your Eyes a Break
When switching to progressive lenses, it’s essential to periodically give the eyes a break and take the glasses off. At first, progressive lenses may leave wearers feeling nauseous, dizzy, or uncomfortable as they switch between focal powers.
Over the course of a few weeks, most of these eye problems lessen and eventually stop, as your brain adjusts to the lenses. Following the 20-20-20 rule may help to reduce issues during the early adjustment period.
How to Get Progressive Lenses
Progressive lenses are unique to an individual based on their prescription. Schedule an appointment with an eye care professional to get a prescription for progressive lenses.
Since these are three prescriptions in each lens, you’ll need to ensure you have the correct and up-to-date prescription for each distance.
Effects of Customized Progressive Addition Lenses vs. Single Vision Lenses on Myopia Progression in Children With Esophoria: A Randomized Clinical Trial. (February 2022). Journal of Ophthalmology.
Pros and Cons of Progressive Lenses. (June 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
The Vertical Monitor Position for Presbyopic Computer Users with Progressive Lenses: How to
Reach Clear Vision and Comfortable Head Posture. (May 2015). The Official Journal of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors.
Influence of Progressive Addition Lenses on Reading Posture in Myopic Children. (July 2016). British Journal of Ophthalmology.
Chapter 2: An Overview of Progressive Addition Lenses (PALS). (December 2021). Research & Reviews in Science and Mathematics-II.
Computers, Digital Devices and Eyestrain. (March 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Eyestrain. Mayo Clinic.
Does Medicare Cover Eyeglasses? Medicare.org.
Gamification of Eye Exercises for Evaluating Eye Fatigue. (May 2019). Artificial Intelligence and Soft Computing.
Effects of Progressive Addition Lens Wear on Digital Work in Pre-Presbyopes. (May 2018). Optometry & Visual Science.
Adaptation to Progressive Additive Lenses: Potential Factors to Consider. (May 2017). Scientific Reports.
Last Updated November 1, 2022
Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.
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