Progressive Lenses

Progressive Lenses

om my experience and some reading, there are 2 big things that can make a big difference in how you see through progressive lenses:  fit  and  lens brand .

There are a lot of different kinds of progressive lenses. If you have progressives already, you can tell what brand they are. There should be little markings right by your nose, and also about 80% of the way across the lens. (To see them, try to look at the inside surface of the lens, not through them.) On mine, they’re very approximately where shown in blue below.

I think these indicate the lens manufacturer, specific brand, material, and what the add of your prescription is (you’ll see a number like 20 or 22, meaning 2.0, or 2.25), as well as some fitting information.

Fit is very important in progressives; your optician should take a lot of measurements when you order the glasses, and spend some time making adjustments to the frames when you pick them up. Go to a good optician, and definitely don’t buy progressives online. (If you really have to save money, buy the frames online.)

Manufacturers I’ve seen recommended (in newsgroups, so take that for what it’s worth) include: Varilux, Rodenstock, Zeiss, Hoya, Seiko, Sola, Shamir and Pentax. Some of those have more than one brand. There are also many more manufacturers.

I don’t know how to choose between these. A good optician should make recommendations based on your:

  • prescription
  • frame size, and
  • vision needs (how you’ll be using them)

as well as his or her experience, but that’s only happened to me with my optometrist, not any opticians. The best opticians I’ve found have recommended Varilux only. But I’ve also found opticians who just gave me the “house brand”, and didn’t even tell me there were alternatives.

I’d stick with lenses called “premium”. The quality (both design and manufacturing) makes a huge difference. And of course if you’re ever given any that have waves (distortion) or don’t have a good point you can see out of, I’d strongly suggest a different brand and a new optician. They should check the lenses before giving them to you. Premium lenses will be more expensive.

There’s also something called “super-premium”, which I think means ground specifically for your prescription, rather than starting from an already-existing lens, but from what I’ve read and been told, they’re extremely expensive, hard to find, and probably not worth it except for people with very high astigmatism. Again, that’s just from reading; you’d probably get better information from a good optometrist or optician.

You can do research online about the progressive brands of course, as well as ask your optometrist. Progressive contact lenses are also an option (not one I know about).

  • The lens brand is separate from the material. You can get most brands of lenses in most types of materials, which also might make a difference to how much you like them.Just because your lenses are progressive doesn’t mean you can’t also have reading glasses, or PC glasses, or both. Separate reading and/or PC lenses are a lot more comfortable than trying to read or use a PC using just the little amount of space a progressive lens gives you. I am much happier having 3 pairs of glasses (progressives, reading and PC) than I was trying to make one do everything.This lets me move my reading and PC glasses closer and farther from my eyes depending on the time of day, or the amount of light, or how far I was from what I was looking at. With progressives, I really wasn’t able to do that.It also let me could go back for prescription adjustments without having the optometrists just assume my problem was not being able to use progressives.

Some Miscellaneous Notes about Progressives

  • Progressive lenses are officially called PALs, which stands for Progressive Addition Lenses. Here’s more info about presbyopia and progressive lenses.
  • If you read a lot about brands, you might see something about hard or soft design. I think (but am not sure) this means how abrupt the transition between the near and far parts is. You also might see lenses described as having some amount of astigmatism. I think (again am not positive) this means blurriness or distortion around the edges of the lens, not the eye condition.
  • You might also see “short corridor”. This means that there’s not as much vertical distance in the middle and near parts of the lens. Some frames require this kind of lens, but some lens designs just give you that, no matter how tall the frame. My optometrist told me not to get a frame that was under 34mm tall so I wouldn’t need a short corridor lens; I’ve seen them recommended against elsewhere too.

I thought maybe I just had bad luck in not finding all this out right away, but I’ve met other people around my age who didn’t know it either. I’ve heard a number of people say they they can’t wear progressive lenses. I couldn’t either, until I tried a much better pair than my first optician gave me. Of everything I’ve learned about presbyopia, lens brands seems like the most important, and the most obvious one that they should have told me right away. Maybe everyone else knows it from watching TV or something, but I certainly didn’t. Not trying to use my progressives for long amounts of reading or using my PC helped a lot too.