What Are Progressive Lenses/Varifocals?
If your optician has recommended a change, or if you feel that your current prescription is no longer suitably adjusting your vision, then it might just be time to consider progressive lenses. If this is the case, you might have a number of questions about what they are, how they work, and how best to choose the right ones for your needs.
What Are Progressive Lenses?
A progressive lens is one that corrects multiple vision requirements in one lens. Therefore, one pair of glasses can be used for correcting your distance, intermediate, and near sighted requirements. In real terms, this means the top of the lens is adapted for distance vision, and gradually diminishes in power towards the bottom, which is designed for reading or other “close up” tasks, like checking a price tag or using your smartphone.
Progressive Lenses vs Bifocals
In the past, progressive lenses were used to correct only two different eye prescriptions, and so were referred to as ‘bifocal lenses’. Bifocals were easy to spot because they had a line dividing the lens in two; the upper half was for distance vision, and the lower for close-range vision. To many people, these were considered ugly and could even be less convenient than two separate pairs of glasses, as wearers would suffer from “image jump” when their focus flickered between the two halves of the lens.
Modern progressive lenses, however, eliminate this uncomfortable jump by having a smooth and consistent gradient between the differing lens powers. This is why they are also sometimes referred to as “multifocal” or “varifocal” lenses, because they offer all of the advantages of the old bifocal lenses without the inconvenience or cosmetic drawbacks.
How to Adjust to Progressive Lenses
Don’t give up on your new lenses! Here are a couple of tips for getting used to them and enjoying clear vision:
Try putting on your new glasses first thing in the morning and wear them for a couple of hours. The next morning, try a few more hours. Slowly build up your tolerance to them.
Don't switch between your new pair and your old one.
Make sure your eyeglasses fit well and don’t slide down your nose.
When you walk, look straight ahead, not down at your feet. Work on pointing your nose in the direction you want to look - don’t just turn your eyes.
When you read, hold items about 16 inches away from your eyes. Look through the bottom of your lenses.
Set your computer screen just below eye level. You can adjust your desk or chair to make this happen.