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Long Island Eye Doctor | July 25, 2014

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Progressive Lenses

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

Progressive lenses are simply “no-line bifocals” or trifocals.  In other words, when your eyeglasses have progressive or graduated lenses, the lenses have no visible line of demarcation between the bottom part of the lens which is used for reading and work which is close up such as sewing or tying a fishing fly, and the top part which is used to see at a distance.  In trifocals, the middle part of the lens is for looking at things which are further away than a book or a needle you might be threading.  The middle part would be used for a task such as reading a computer screen.  The prescription in progressive lenses are graduated or gradually change from the portion at the bottom for reading, to the middle section for middle distance vision, to the top section which is used to see at a distance.  There are not one or two lenses but many, many lenses in a pair of progressive lenses.

Why You Should Wear Progressive Lenses

Why should you care whether your eyeglass lenses are progressive or traditional lenses?

First of all, you should care because progressive lenses make eyeglass wearers look younger than those who wear eyeglasses with traditional lenses.  Wearing of bifocals or trifocals is associated with aging.  As we pass forty, we often begin to feel the effects of presbyopia, the natural condition which causes it to be more difficult to see objects which are close to us.  At our vision exam, we will be told that we need a reading prescription or “reading glasses.”  Patients who have a prescription for distance as well, will need glasses which compensate for the problem of blurry vision close up and for the problem of not seeing items which are far from them.  And if you don’t want to have to remove your glasses continually and you don’t need a prescription for distance, you still may prefer graduated lenses as you can have a reading prescription on the bottom and a lens without a prescription on the top.

Before progressive lenses, those over forty had that telltale lines in their eyeglass lenses which shouted to the world “Hey, look, I’m over forty and I need reading glasses!”  With progressive lenses, we can all have excellent vision and still feel young because of the gradual difference in prescriptions from the bottom to the top of progressive lens.  There are no lines.

Even More Reasons Why Progressive Lenses are Better

But beyond vanity, there are other reasons to wear progressive lenses.  Bifocals, with their two powers, only allow wearers to see close up or at a distance.  Even when wearers have trifocals, they must keep moving their head up and down to figure the best way is to see the middle distance.  This is annoying and often the rewards are minimal.  No matter what the bifocal wearer does, he or she is still not getting a very good view of the computer screen or the needle in the sewing machine.  Where the line appears, there is a sudden change in the lens focus, causing images to suddenly blur or jump.  Some people find this sudden blurring to be very uncomfortable.

Those who wear bifocals, rather than progressive lenses, are also putting themselves at danger of getting “computer vision syndrome.”  With so many people using computers for prolonged periods of time, those wearing bifocals have to sit close to the screen and tilt their chins up so they can look through the bottom of their eyeglasses.  This can cause neck pain, and muscle strain – all symptoms of computer vision syndrome.

Progressive lenses also provide a more natural type of vision for the wearer as the effect of using progressive lenses is more like vision prior to the onset of presbyopia, a young person’s vision.  Wearers simply need to move their eyes up and down to find the part of the lens which suits their needs.  This soon becomes second nature or habit.

More Limits of Bifocals and Trifocals

Because neither bifocals nor trifocals provide any graduation but are two or three “set” prescriptions, images that are not within a certain distance will be blurry. Progressive lenses allow the wearer to see at any distance.  Those wearing progressive lenses for the first time will have a short learning time to adjust to wearing the lenses.  At first, they may realize that their peripheral vision is a bit blurry.  This should disappear in a short period of time.  If not, your optometrist will be able to work with you to find the perfect pair of progressive lenses to fit your needs.

To be examined and fitted for the perfect progressive lenses for your individual needs, make an appointment with your Long Island eye doctor at Optix Family Eyecare Center (516-931-6330 or click here: http://www.optixeyecare.com/eye-exam.asp.

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