Progress in the World of Progressive Lenses

July 31, 2021

Remember your grandmother’s glasses? You know – the huge, plain frames with the crazy line across the lenses? Lucky for us, the science of vision correction has jumped centuries ahead in just a few decades, and the speed of this progress has really taken off in the last few years. Welcome to a whole new world of progressive lenses!


Most people notice a dramatic change in their vision in middle age. As we get older, the lens of our eye doesn’t change shape as easily as it did in our youth. This lack of flexibility is called presbyopia, and it causes distorted vision at the normal distance for reading. This is why you need to hold reading material farther away from you than you used to once you hit your forties. Presbyopia can also cause headaches and fatigue when doing close work.


Centuries ago, a mad scientist named Benjamin Franklin invented special eyeglasses to correct this problem. They were called bifocals, because there were two separate vision correction areas that would allow users to see clearly at different distances. Trifocals were invented in 1827, when a third layer of correction was added, allowing users to have accurate vision correction near, middle and distance fields. These divided lenses remained virtually unchanged for years, until progressive lenses made their debut in 1959. Progressive lenses are also called “no line bifocals”, because the corrective fields blend seamlessly, without the tell-tale line of a standard bifocal lens. They’re not only more attractive; they offer better vision correction as well.


The science of progressive lenses has developed rapidly compared to that of bifocals. There are now a wide variety of progressive lenses to choose from, depending on your prescription, lifestyle and budget. Let’s take a look at your options!


Standard Progressive Lenses – These are the most affordable option, but they require a taller, higher frame to allow for smooth transitions between the distance field at the top, the mid-range in the center and the up-close reading area at the bottom. If your frame is too short, you’ll lose valuable reading ability at the lower level.


Short Corridor Progressive Lenses – If you love the look of a smaller frame, this is the progressive lens for you. These lenses may be a little harder to adapt to, because the “corridor” - the effective reading area in the center of the lens – is not as wide. There will be increased distortion when you look off to the sides. It’s important to look straight ahead when you are reading with these lenses. You’ll notice a decrease in the clarity of your peripheral vision, but it may be a worthwhile trade-off if you’re looking for small, ultra-chic designer frames.


Computer or “Working” Progressive Lenses – These are also called “office lenses” or “near variable focus lenses”. They’re designed for people who use computers and complete close work for most of the day. They provide the maximum field for clear vision at a distance of 16 inches to 6 feet. If you use a computer for at least 4 hours per day, these lenses will help cut down on visual fatigue, headaches and eye strain. If most of your day is spent looking at the intermediate and near distances, you may want to consider these progressives. However, keep in mind that these are an “add-on” pair of glasses. You’ll still need your regular progressives for everything else.


Premium Progressive Lenses – If you hear the terms “free-form design” or “wave-front technology”, it refers to this type of lenses. The main advantage to these lenses is a much wider, distortion-free reading area. Overall, your vision is typically clearer, because these lenses are often entirely digitally surfaced or ground. You may also hear them referred to as “digital progressives”. They have small adjustments built into the lenses that allow both of your eyes to work together, and may take into account that one of your eyes is much stronger than the other. Instead of compacting the lens like a short corridor progressive, this type of lens allows all ranges of power to fit into almost any frame. They are the easiest lens to adapt to, and prevent “swim” – the unique dizziness caused by visual impact when you move your head while wearing progressive lenses. An up-to-date vision test is essential to get the most accurate prescription.


Ground-view Progressive Lenses – These lenses are recommended for people who look downward frequently, as the construction of the bottom and size of the lenses allows for better vision in those areas. If golf is your game, ground-views are your dream come true!


Transitions Progressive Lenses – Transitions lenses darken automatically when they’re exposed to ultraviolet light, providing shade for your eyes when you move outdoors. When you move back inside, they change back to let you see comfortably in lower light.


A consultation with your eye doctor is the best way to decide which progressive lens is best for you. A comprehensive vision exam is always the first step, allowing your optometrist to guide you toward your best option. If you’re considering progressive lenses for the first time – or need to update your current pair – it’s time to make progress with Pro-Optix Eye Care. Call 713-360-7095 to schedule your appointment with our premier Houston eye doctors today!


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