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All About Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses are a type of multifocal lens meant to counter the effects of presbyopia. Presbyopia is a condition that is related to age that makes it harder for a person to see things very close up. This happens because the lens of the eye, which changes shape slightly to help focus on objects at close range, becomes more rigid and less flexible with age. This inflexibility is what makes it harder to focus on objects close up. Just about everyone develops presbyopia, and a person who is also farsighted or nearsighted, will experience the two conditions combined.

The progressive lens is meant to address the issues of having both near or farsightedness and presbyopia by giving the wearer the ability to see very close up as well as at a distance, without having to switch glasses. Unlike traditional bi or trifocals, however, this is not done by combining two or three distinct prescriptions into a single pair of glasses to create different areas for different viewing distances. Rather, the lens is tailored to progress seamlessly from a distance prescription at the top to a reading distance prescription at the bottom. The resulting look is closer to traditional single prescription glasses than to bi or trifocals. According to Dr. Rachel Cohn of Wink Eyecare Boutique in Potomac, Maryland, “The seamless look of these lenses makes them an especially attractive option for those who have need for multifocal lenses, but are hesitant to wear traditional bi or trifocals because of the popular association of these types of lenses with old age.”

Beyond aesthetic considerations, however, transition lenses have a number of other advantages that make them a great choice for many people. One oft cited advantage is that the gradation of the lens to go from distance to close vision avoids the uncomfortable “image jump” associated with going from the regular to close-up or distance prescription in bi or trifocals. The gradation of the lens is also considered to be more natural, meaning that the proper lens power can generally be achieved by only slight adjustments to eye and head position.

When first adjusting to progressive lenses an accommodation period is usually required in order to adapt to them. There are some people who have difficulty adjusting to progressive lenses, a condition called progressive non-tolerance. But statistics show that 90-98% of people are able to successfully adjust, sometimes within only a few hours, and are extremely happy with their choice to go with progressive lenses.

To learn more about progressive lenses and if they are the right choice for you, make an appointment today with your eye care professional.  

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