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Presbyopia, Bifocals, and Progressives

Presbyopia is often joked about as too many birthdays!

Since it starts to effect most people at varying ages after the age of 40, it certainly creates complications! People who previously had 20/20 vision now find themselves grabbing a pair of reading glasses to combat presbyopia, but people who require a prescription to see distance objects clearly will need to either pair reading glasses with their contact lenses or else upgrade their single vision lenses to bifocals, trifocals, or progressives.

The Pros and Cons of Lined Bifocals

Lined bifocals are fairly self-explanatory. One area on the top corrects for the distance prescription and the other area on the bottom corrects for presbyopia. As presbyopia worsens, it may become necessary to have a middle range for things like reading a computer screen, which is where lined trifocals come in. They are a simple, effective solution, but not without their flaws.

The hard line between the prescription sections can be very jarring and create an image jump effect in the wearer’s field of vision. And just as having braces carries a connotation of immaturity because most orthodontic patients are teens, bifocals and trifocals have a connotation of advancing age that many would rather avoid.

Progressive Lenses: The Modern Solution for Presbyopia

Anyone who feels that the drawbacks of lined bifocals outweigh the benefits might do better with progressive “no line bifocal” lenses. Where bifocals and trifocals are multiple lenses put together like puzzle pieces, a progressive lens is a single lens in which the prescription gradually changes from distance vision at the top to near vision at the bottom, with a middle section in between. Depending on how they tilt their heads or adjust their eye position, the wearers are able to see clearly at all distances.

The Adjustment Period with Progressive Lenses

With every new lens prescription comes an adjustment period, particularly for your first pair of progressive lenses. Here are a few quick tips to adjust quickly:

  • Practice looking at objects at different distances by reading a book and watching TV at the same time.
  • Practice moving your eyes up and down, instead of your head  to see things at different distances, far and near.
  • Practice moving your head right or left, rather than moving your eyes side to side, so that you are always looking through the optical center of your lenses.
  • Make sure the glasses fit properly so that the corridor of power in the middle of the lens stays where it needs to be.
  • Keep wearing your new progressive lenses instead of switching back and forth to your old glasses. Doing that resets the clock on getting used to your new glasses and makes it take longer to get used to them!

Have Questions or Need an Adjustment?

If you’d like to learn more about progressive lenses or if you’re having trouble with yours, give us a call! We want to make sure all our patients are happy with their glasses and able to see comfortably and clearly.

We love our patients!

Top image by Flickr user Bill Daly used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.