Progressive lenses for vision over 40

Progressive lenses for vision over 40

After age 40, no one likes to advertise their age — especially when you start having trouble reading fine print.

Thankfully, today’s progressive eyeglass lenses make it impossible for others to tell you’ve reached “bifocal age.”

Progressive lenses — sometimes called “no-line bifocals” — give you a more youthful appearance by eliminating the visible lines found in bifocal (and trifocal) lenses.

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

Advantages of progressive lenses over bifocals

Bifocal eyeglass lenses have only two powers: one for seeing across the room and the other for seeing up close. Objects in between, like a computer screen or items on a grocery store shelf, often remain blurry with bifocals.

Choose a frame that’s big enough to include all viewing zones. Some progressive designs are compact, to fit in the smaller frames now in style.

To attempt to see objects at this “intermediate” range clearly, bifocal wearers must bob their heads up and down, alternately looking through the top and then the bottom of their bifocals, to determine which part of the lens works better.

Bifocals also put you at greater risk for computer vision syndrome when using a computer for extended periods. Bifocal wearers have to sit closer to the screen and tilt their heads back to see through the bottom part of their lenses. This unnatural posture can lead to muscle strain, neck pain and other symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome.

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

With progressive lenses, there’s no need to bob your head up and down or adopt uncomfortable postures to see your computer screen or other objects at arm’s length.

Holding your head in a comfortable position, you can simply look straight ahead to see in the distance, move your eyes slightly downward to view your computer through the intermediate zone and lower your gaze a bit farther to read comfortably up close.

Natural vision with no “image jump”

The visible lines in bifocals and trifocals are points where there’s an abrupt change in lens power.

When a bifocal or trifocal wearer’s line of sight moves across these lines, images suddenly move, or “jump.” The discomfort caused by this “image jump” can range from being mildly annoying to creating nausea.

Progressive lenses are line-free and have a smooth transition in lens power for clear vision at all distances.

Also, because of 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. Objects that are outside the distances covered by the bifocal or trifocal lens powers will be blurred.

Progressive lenses, on the other hand, have a smooth, seamless progression of lens powers for clear vision at all distances. Progressive lenses provide a more natural depth of focus with no “image jump.”

It’s important to note, however, that the first time you wear progressive lenses, you may notice a soft blur in your peripheral vision through the lower half of the lenses, to the right and left of the intermediate and near zones.

If this occurs, the sensation typically will go away after you wear the lenses full-time for several days. If it persists, tell your eye doctor or optician. (If necessary, a slight adjustment or changing to a different progressive lens design usually will solve the problem.)

Progressive lenses for all frames and lifestyles

Because of their visual and cosmetic advantages over bifocals and trifocals, progressive lenses have become the most popular multifocal lenses for anyone with presbyopia who wears eyeglasses.

This demand has led to a number of recent advances in progressive lens technology, including:

Wider zones of clear vision

In early progressive lens designs, the lateral field of view for computer use and reading was somewhat limited. This required wearers to make frequent small head movements and “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 been increased. And for computer users, special occupational designs greatly expand the intermediate zone for enhanced comfort at the computer.

Compatibility with smaller frames

In early progressive lens designs, the power changes within lenses required them to be relatively large. This limited frame selection to larger styles.

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

Better lens materials

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

Progressives made of high-index plastic lens materials can be up to 50 percent thinner than standard plastic bifocals.

For safety eyewear, many brands of progressive lenses are available in lightweight and impact-resistant polycarbonate as well.

Other options for progressive lenses

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

Seek expert advice for your best lens choice

With so many progressive lens designs and options available today, the choices can be overwhelming without professional advice.

The first step is to have a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor near you and obtain an updated eyeglass prescription. During the exam, tell your eye doctor about any particular vision needs you have.