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How Do Progressives Work?

We deal with progressive lenses every day and we are often asked, "how do progressive lenses work?" The short answer is a lot of math and physics but we try to make things more simple to understand than going through all of that. As we get older the crystalline lens we use to see and focus on objects both near and far begins to lose it's elasticity and this forces us to need some sort of visual correction to see up close. This is where progressive lenses come into play, progressives give us the ability to include your distance correction along with your intermediate and near vision needs. In essence it gives you the option to wear one pair of glasses rather than switching between two or three pairs of glasses to accomplish different tasks. But what do you need to know to wear them comfortably and use them to their full ability? Let's find out!

How Do Progressives Work?

Like I said above, progressives give you the ability to see multiple distances with just one pair of glasses. With the top portion being made for distance (ie. Driving, looking across a parking lot, etc.), the middle portion being made for intermediate work (ie. computer work, face to face conversations, etc.), and the bottom portion is designed for near work (ie. reading, hand sewing, etc.).

How do progressive lenses work

Like the picture shows, while you get all of your vision needs in a progressive lens there is a give and take when wearing a progressive lens. In order to put all of the powers needed into one lens it results in some blur or distortion along the edges of the lenses. There are lenses that minimize blur and lenses that don't work quite as well, we are lucky to work with many labs that help us with their knowledge and experience to put each customer into the perfect design based on their needs, prescription, and budget.

How to use progressives?

Using progressives can involve a bit of a learning curve, but most of our clients are able to put them on and figure it out very quickly. The first thing we tell everybody is to try looking with your nose not your eyes at first. What this does is it reinforces the idea that you have to move your head rather than looking around the lens with your eyes, this helps keep you in the corridor and everything in focus.

The next thing to remember is as you tip up and down the power is changing to bring near and far objects into focus. The closer the object the lower in the lens you'll want to look through, this is because the power increases the closer to the bottom of the lens you get.

The last major hurdle that many people have ties into the first piece of advice we gave. If you are trying to look through the lens without moving your head you're going to find the areas of the lens that hold the distortion, meaning things won't be as clear. The majority of the distortion in progressives are in the outside edges of the lenses, we use digital and freeform surfacing techniques to minimize this distortion, but there is no true way to get rid of it. So if you are running into issues with seeing too much distortion just remember to be more conscious of moving your head.

Are progressives right for me?

We will be the first to tell you progressive lenses aren't perfect and they may not be the right choice for everybody. I often say they do most things well but nothing perfect. What I usually mean by this is if you're looking for a pair of glasses that you can wear around for a normal day of running errands or hanging around the house these work great! But if you're wanting something to wear at your desk for eight hours a day or something you can use for your model train hobby progressives aren't the best option. There are specific task lenses that are designed for these exact situations and others, but if you only want one pair of glasses and understand there may be some drawbacks, then a progressive lens will work great for you!

Progressives truly are a lifesaver and something we recommend and wear on a daily basis. But with 100’s even 1,000’s of designs available, it’s almost and art form to pick which design is best based on specific lifestyle needs and prescription limitations. So feel free to stop by or reach out if you have ANY questions that have to do with progressive lenses and if they’re a good fit for you!