Vision after 40: Advantages of Progressive Lenses

by | May 20, 2024 | eye glasses

Progressive lenses

After age 40, no one likes their age to show, especially when they start to have trouble reading small print. Fortunately, today’s spectacle lenses make it impossible for others to say that you have reached the “bifocal era.”

Progressive lenses, sometimes called “lineless bifocals,” give you a more youthful look by eliminating the visible lines found in bifocals (and trifocals).

But beyond being just a multifocal lens with no visible lines, progressive lenses allow people with presbyopia to see clearly at all distances.

Advantages of Progressive Lenses over Bifocals

Bifocal lenses for glasses only have two powers: one for seeing across the room and the other for seeing up close. Intermediate objects, such as a computer screen or items on a grocery store shelf, often remain blurry with bifocals.

To try to see objects clearly in this “intermediate” range, bifocal wearers must move their heads up and down, alternately looking at the top and then the bottom of their bifocal lenses, to determine which part of the lens works best.

Bifocals also put you at higher risk for computer vision syndrome (CVS) when using a computer for an extended period. Bifocal wearers have to sit closer to the screen and tilt their heads back to see through the bottom of their glasses. This unnatural posture can cause muscle tension, neck pain, and other CVS symptoms.

Progressive lenses more closely mimic the natural vision you enjoyed before the onset of presbyopia. Instead of providing just two lens powers like bifocals (or three, like trifocals), progressive lenses are accurate “multifocal” lenses that provide a smooth, perfect progression of many lens powers for clear vision all along. Across the room, up close and at any distance in between.

With progressive lenses, there is no need to move your head up and down or adopt awkward postures to view your computer screen or other objects within arm’s reach.

Holding your head in a comfortable position, you can simply look forward to seeing in the distance, move your eyes down slightly to see your computer through the middle, and lower your gaze a little further to read comfortably up close.

Natural Vision without “Image Jumping”

The lines visible on bifocal and trifocal lenses are points where the lens’s power abruptly changes.

When a bifocal or trifocal wearer’s line of vision passes through these lines, the images suddenly move or “jump.” The discomfort caused by this “image jump” can range from being a little annoying to creating nausea.

Additionally, due to the limited number of lens powers in bifocals and trifocals, your depth of focus with these lenses is limited. To be seen clearly, objects must be within a specific range of distances. Those that are outside the distances covered by the powers of the bifocal or trifocal lenses will be blurred.

Progressive lenses, on the other hand, have a smooth and perfect progression of lens powers for clear vision at all distances. Additionally, they provide a more natural depth of focus without “image jump.”

However, the first time you use progressive lenses, you may notice a blurry image in your peripheral vision through the bottom half of the lenses, to the right and left of the middle and near areas.

If this occurs, the sensation will usually go away after wearing the lenses full-time for several days. If it persists, inform your eye care doctor. (If necessary, making a slight adjustment or switching to a different progressive lens design will usually solve the problem.)

Progressive Lenses for All Frames and Lifestyles

Due to their visual and aesthetic advantages over bifocals and trifocals, progressive lenses have become the most popular multifocal lenses for anyone with presbyopia who wears glasses.

The demand for these affordable eyeglasses has led to several recent advances in progressive lens technology, including:

Wider Areas of Clear Vision

In early progressive lens designs, the lateral field of vision for computer use and reading was somewhat limited. This required users to make frequent small head movements and have to “point their nose” directly at an object to see it clearly.

In today’s progressive lenses, the size of the zones for computer use and reading has increased. For computer users, special occupational designs greatly expand the buffer zone for greater comfort on the computer.

More Comfort for Active Use

With early progressive lens designs, first-time users frequently noticed soft blurring and other peripheral aberrations that could give the sensation of movement or “swimming” during rapid head turns.

Today’s progressive lenses have better optics and fewer peripheral aberrations, making them very comfortable for active wear. Some of the newest high-definition lens designs found in modern progressive lenses are created with the same wavefront-guided technology used in LASIK surgery for razor-sharp optical performance with a wide field of view.

Support for Smaller Frames

In early progressive lens designs, power changes within the lenses required the lenses to be larger. Therefore, frame selection was limited to larger styles.

Today, many progressive lenses have compact designs especially created for smaller eyeglass frames. With these new designs, wearers with small faces or anyone who wants a more petite, more modern frame can enjoy all the benefits of progressive lenses.

Best Lens Materials

Today’s progressive lenses are available in the latest lens materials, making them thinner, lighter and more comfortable than ever.

Progressive lenses made from high-index plastic lens materials can be up to 50% thinner than standard plastic bifocal lenses.

For safety glasses, many brands of progressive lenses are also available in lightweight, impact-resistant polycarbonate.

Other Options for Progressive Lenses

For the best vision, comfort, and appearance, purchase an anti-reflective (AR) coating for your progressive lenses.

The AR coating eliminates almost all distractions caused by lens reflections that cause glare when driving at night. It also makes your lenses nearly invisible for better eye contact with other people and a more attractive appearance.

For outdoor use, many of today’s progressive lenses are available in photochromic tints for greater comfort in and out of the sun. Some progressive lenses are also available as polarized sunglasses.

Seek Expert Advice for your Best Lens Option

With so many designs and models of progressive lenses available today, the options can be overwhelming without professional advice. Fortunately, Salisbury Optometrist is here to help. The first step is to get a complete eye exam and an updated glasses prescription from us. During the exam, you can tell us about any particular vision needs you have.

Salisbury Optometrists recommends a progressive lens solution tailored to your lifestyle and visual needs and provides helpful advice on how to adapt to your first pair of progressive lenses and how to care for them. Contact us to enjoy a perfect vision.


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