Progressive Lens: How They Work & Common Problems

April 13, 2023

You may only need the usual pair of glasses with a single prescription when you can’t see objects that are either near or far. But as you reach 40, you might find it hard to switch focus between distant and close objects as easily as when you were younger. And the idea of having several pairs of glasses seems like a hassle where you need to constantly change your glasses to see better.

In that case, an optometrist may prescribe progressive lenses to improve your eyesight while removing the need to own several pairs of glasses.

What is a progressive lens?

Standard progressive lenses are designed to provide a smooth transition from distance vision to near, without the visible line that is present in traditional bifocal or trifocal lenses. There are different zones for different distances, and the prescription strength gradually changes as the eyes move down the lens. The lens’s upper part is made for far vision, its middle for intermediate vision, and the lower part is made for close-up vision. This makes them a favorable choice for people who want clear vision at all distances without having to switch between multiple pairs of glasses.

Progressive lenses provide a more convenient visual experience than traditional bifocals or trifocals, as they allow wearers to move their eyes up and down the lens to alter their focus instead of having to tilt their heads to see through a specific part of the lens. They can be especially useful for those who need to see things clearly at different distances during the course of the day, such as those who use computers or constantly transition between reading and other activities that require seeing further objects.

Who uses progressive lenses?

Standard progressive lenses are typically used by people who have presbyopia, which is an age-related disorder where the eyes gradually lose the ability to focus on nearby objects — like sewing or reading. As people age, almost everyone has some degree of presbyopia, which often begins in the early to mid-40s.

In addition to presbyopia, standard progressive lenses may also be used by people with other types of refractive errors, such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, who require a multifocal solution to aid their vision. However, the use of progressive lenses for these conditions may depend on individual preferences and the recommendations from the eye specialist.

Common problems of progressive lenses

While they can be very helpful for individuals with presbyopia or anyone with refractive error issues, there are some common problems that wearers may experience. Here are a few:

  1. Peripheral distortion: You could experience some distortion in your peripheral vision when you first start using standard progressive lenses. This is so because the power of the lens gradually decreases from top to bottom, and reading requires the lower part of the lens. The lens power changes as you shift your eyes to focus on anything in your peripheral vision, which might lead to distortion. But most individuals eventually get used to this progressive lens situation.
  2. Headaches and lightheadedness: When starting to use progressive lenses, some individuals may experience headaches or dizziness. This is typically caused by the time it takes to get used to the new progressive lenses. Your brain requires a few days or even several weeks to adjust to the new visual input.
  3. Narrow field of vision: Compared to single-vision lenses, progressive lenses have a narrower field of vision. This implies that you may have to move your head more to see clearly, especially when looking down.
  4. Visual jump: There can be a tiny optical jump or blur as you move your eyes from the distant area of the lens to the reading part. Progressive lenses typically have this characteristic, which can be lessened by adjusting your head position.
  5. Reflections and glare: Progressive lenses may be more susceptible to reflections and glare since they have more curves and angles than single-vision lenses. Driving at night or in direct sunlight might make this more noticeable.

But most of the time, people who wear standard progressive lenses don’t face any problems and find them to be a convenient and effective approach to correcting their visual impairment.

How to get used to progressive lenses?

There is a learning curve with these all-in-one glasses. You’ll need to practice looking at the correct part of the lens for the activities you’re currently performing since there won’t be any lines to act as a guide.

You can train your eyes to focus on the top section of the lens by simply walking. But while climbing stairs, your feet could appear bigger than they actually are if you look down through the lower part of the lens.

Another way when focusing an object is to point your nose in the direction of the object and move your chin up or down until the object is clear. If you feel headaches or eye strain, take a good minute break and take off your glasses.

Remember, keep practicing because to get used to progressive lenses, you need to learn these proper methods — which might take anywhere from a week to a few months. Wear your lenses as frequently as you can to speed up the adjustment process.

Final Say

If you’re hitting 40 and suddenly feel hard for your eyes to adjust when performing tasks that constantly need to shift focus between close and far objects, it is best to get your eyes checked. Consult an ophthalmologist at VISTA Eye Specialist to acquire thorough advice from our highly qualified and certified doctors where progressive lenses proposed to you are customized and fitted so it is easy for you to get used to progressive lenses.


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