Between the ages of 38 to 48, humans lose the ability to focus at near.  This condition is known as presbyopia whose meaning comes from the Greek language meaning “old vision.”  Presbyopia typically happens earlier in far-sighted patients and later in near-sighted patients. When the time comes to address this problem, you have several options including reading glasses, lined bifocal glasses, contact lenses and progressive multifocal glasses.  Of the several options, progressive lenses offer the most natural option.

The way progressive lenses are made, the distance prescription is on the top part of the lenses and then they gradually change to near correction as the eyes move down the lenses.  To make the lenses have no lines and offer a progression of focal lengths, distortions are purposely put in the lower, outer edges of the lenses.  These distortions vary from brand to brand.  Some brands offer a wider intermediate area for computer users.  Some brands have a very short central corridor for patients that choose very small frames.

In recent years, progressive lenses have been digitally designed for each frame shape and size making custom regions within a lens to suit an individual. Digital progressive lenses ensure the most precise prescription based on the shape of your face, how you prefer to wear your frame and the position of your eyes.

These days, the latest designs are called Free Form.  They are described as a revolutionary digital manufacturing process that uses computer-aided design and surfacing to create high-level, customized eyeglass lenses with your unique prescription. Backside progressive lenses are Free Form progressive lenses that have the prescription on the back side of the lens. The advantage of this is that the power distribution sits closer to the eye making lens distortions less noticeable.

ADVANTAGES of Progressives:   One of their instant advantages is that the design of progressives has no image jump or visible line on the lens. This enhances your comfort with your lenses and is a safer option when doing things such as driving.  Another advantage is that unlike lined bifocals with their two focal lengths (near and far), progressives have an infinite number of focal lengths making them ideal for driving, computing, reading, shopping, etc.

DISADVANTAGES of Progressives: Some problems with progressive lenses occur when walking up and down stairs or looking at curbs. Since the reading correction and peripheral distortions are at the bottom, the stairs may seem like they move or the curb may seem too close.  However, it’s all about adapting to your progressive lenses, and in about two weeks, you should be fine.   Patience is necessary when first wearing them.  Avoid  using your older glasses or single-vision glasses, which can delay the adapting process. Wear your new progressives as much as possible. Allow at least two weeks for adapting.  Any dizziness, nausea, or headaches  should be told to the dispensing optician. Always allow them to troubleshoot your new glasses as a simple adjustment may be all you need.

TIPS for wearing new Progressives:  1. Every 20 minutes, stop reading and look as far as you can for about a minute.   2. Don’t go back to your old glasses for the first week or two.  3. When looking far, point your nose at the distant object. 4. Become a “head-turner” as opposed to an “eye-mover” when wearing progressive lenses. Lower your eyes, not your head, when reading.