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How Progressive Lenses Work

Hands down, progressive lenses are the most popular multifocal lenses in the United States. Also known as progressives or PALS, these multifocal lenses offer a complete vision solution in one pair of eyeglasses – with no lines bisecting the lenses. In contrast to bifocals, which have two lens powers (one for distance and one for close viewing), progressives present a gradual change in power that occurs from the top to bottom of the lens. A range of powers are thereby offered, giving clear vision up close, far away and at every point in between.

Presbyopia is a common condition that generally occurs after age 40 and causes reduced vision up close. To treat this condition, progressive lenses are ideal for mimicking your natural vision. The gradual change in power in the lenses allows you to look upwards to see faraway and look forwards directly to see any object at arm’s length. When you drop your gaze downward, you’ll have a sharp view for reading comfortably or doing fine work.

Most people who wear progressive lenses are middle-aged or older. However, recent studies indicate that some children may benefit from progressives as a way to slow the progression of myopia (nearsightedness).

Best Frames for Progressive Lenses

Progressives require eyeglass frames with proportions that offer enough vertical space for the lens power to change from top to bottom. Keep in mind that there must be enough room for all lens powers to be included in the eyeglasses. Small frames may leave only a tiny zone of the lens for viewing distance or near.

However, in order to ensure that a wide range of eyeglass styles are available to fit progressive lenses, many manufacturers now offer lens designs called “short corridor”. These progressives are made to fit in smaller frames. An experienced optician should be able to pinpoint a progressive lens that will function well in almost frame you prefer.

Different Progressives for Different Needs

With many unique characteristics, a selection of progressive lenses is available to suit different purposes. Progressive lenses are now specialized for specific activities. Computer users may appreciate “occupational” progressive lenses, which boast an extra-wide intermediate zone to maximize your visual comfort when at your computer desk. Super-size reading portions of the lens are an alternative design that’s perfect for book-lovers.

Adaptation to Progressives

Getting used to progressive lenses is a highly individual experience that can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days of wear. Fortunately, the majority of people report that progressives are comfortable almost immediately.

You’ll need to learn how to see through the progressive lenses properly – so that you’re gazing through the most appropriate part of the lens for the distance you want to see.

As you adapt to your new progressives, you may detect slight motions every time you move your eyes or head quickly. With time, this sensation will pass.