Progressive vs. Lined Bifocals

Has your eye doctor mentioned the “B” word to you? As in, “You are getting to that stage of your life when you need BIFOCALS.”

Well, the eye doctor probably doesn’t shout but it can sure reverberate in your mind if you forgot you were nearing “that time of your life.” Or thought it might bypass you entirely.

Many of us wouldn’t be caught dead wearing these glasses with a big seam across the middle. Talk about grandma glasses! But it seems like it is either this or spend the rest of your days stretching your arms so you can hold your reading material far enough away.

Guess what! You don’t have to. Optical science has come to the rescue and developed a more subtle type of bifocal – the progressive lens.

Progressive Lenses Are Not (Just) Bifocals

We call them no-line bifocals because that is something familiar to most of us. But progressive lenses are actually considered to be multifocal because different parts of the lens provide different focus zones from near to intermediate to far. So they can also substitute for those strange-looking trifocal lenses.

A progressive lens is made so that a more natural and subtle translation is made between near and far vision. It can also be designed for the activities you normally do.

With the old bifocals the only adjustment that could be made to the lens as a whole was how big to make one half or the other. If you did a lot of close detail work, the bottom portion could be made larger or even placed at the top. If you only did a little close work or reading, the near half of the lens could be made smaller.

Progressive lenses, first of all, do not have the obvious divide between areas of different focus. In addition, progressives are not cut into a top half and bottom half. If you were able to see the differences in the lens it would look more like this:

Adjusting to Progressives

Adjusting to progressives is a lot like adjusting to any other new lens prescription. It just takes time to get used to it. But if you have never worn glasses before, expect things to look a little distorted until your eyes get used to them.

The nice thing with progressives is that there is no sudden transition from near to far vision like there is with lined bifocals. This may speed adjustment for you. There is no jump in vision when you move your head.

There are, however, differences between progessives, too. A basic progressive is made so that if you point your nose where you want to see you will probably get the right focal zone for your purposes.

Premium progressives are designed to provide wider fields of vision at the varied distances, which will minimize how much you have to move your head around to see, providing a larger “sweet spot” and clearer vision. They also have a much shorter adaptation time as compared to the more basic versions. Premium progressives can be extremely customized to your occupation and even the specific design of the frame you selected for your eyewear.

When your optician goes over the lens order, you will be asked what you tend to do the most. If you work at a computer, progressive lens focal zones can be adjusted to optimize your vision while staring at a screen. There are many possibilities available and your optician will guide you through this process to make sure your selection best suits your lifestyle.

Progressive lenses are called that because the lens focus progresses across multiple focal zones. But they are also progressive when measured against the lined bifocals of your parent’s or grandparent’s time.

Learn more about what we do and how we can help you at Clarke EyeCare Center.

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