Progressive lenses: Same? Better? Worse?

My optician has recommended that I get new eyeglasses with progressive lenses since I’m at that age where reading vision goes to poop. I have a few days to decide what to do.

The one thing I really don’t like, from the examples I was shown, is that the sides of the lenses appear to have no focus at all, which totally ruins peripheral vision. There are more expensive versions which widen the bottom “reading” part but none of them felt ideal. On the other hand, she recommended against standard bifocals since I spend several hours per day on the computer and the dividing line would be right in my field of view. (My understanding of how it works is that top = distance, bottom = close-up reading, and middle = computer stuff.)

I’ve also been told that they take some time to get used to (esp. going up & down stairs) but I’m not terribly worried about that – it’s the peripheral vision (or lack thereof) that concerns me.

So, progressive lens wearers – how’d they work out for you?

I started a little over a year ago, and have noticed essentially no effects. They are not great for reading, however. I usually just take them off.

One suggestion you might want to consider is 2 pairs of glasses. One that is suitable for your computer work and one that you use for everything else. It might be easier to just swap glasses than it is to find a progressive lens that you like.

I have found progressive contact lenses that I really like. You might ask for a few trial boxes of different brands of those, if you don’t mind contacts.

Years ago I had defined bifocals and switched to progressive lenses. During the first week, it did present a different field of focus that at first was unfamiliar and a little distracting. By the second week or so, I no longer took notice and I would never consider returning to a defined bifocal lens.

I’ve stuck with two pairs of glasses, one for long distance, one for computer work. The computer work lens is as you describe the more expensive version, it’s a trapezoid area of focus. It took me all of one day to get used to them.

For me they’ve been great.

Note that I qualify that with for me because they aren’t for everyone and this is an area where you may or may not differ from me.

Tis true that the peripheral vision is not in sharp focus - but you don’t use your peripheral vision for sharp focus anyway. I don’t find it a problem. I might also mention that I used to fly airplanes and part of my FAA medical involved, among other things, testing my peripheral vision. Mine was plenty adequate for flying airplanes, a visually demanding task, while wearing progressives. Even so, you personally might find the peripheral vision given by progressives troublesome and since it’s your vision it’s your opinion that counts here.

When I got my first pair of progressives my optician gave me a short time period (I think it was 30 days? Can’t remember exactly) during which if I decided they were a bad choice for me I could go back to a single-vision lens for no additional cost. Ask about your options if the glasses don’t work for you.

I did do the two-pairs-of-glasses-and-swap-as-needed thing for awhile, and it did work out for awhile, but when I moved to progressives that was the right choice for me at the time.

They do take some adjustment time, particularly on stairs - I just made sure I held the railing for a couple weeks. Other people have more trouble than I did. YMMV. Good luck, hope you find a good solution for your needs.

I’ve had progressive lenses for a couple of years. While not perfect, they are, at least for me, by far the best option out there. I did two pairs of glasses for a bit, and vastly prefer progressive lenses.

They do take a bit to get used to, but for me, that was very quick and very easy.

As far as the peripheral vision, it is something I notice occasionally, but is not a big deal for me. It is a non-problem as far as walking around, interacting with things, etc., as in these situations you are never really focusing on things peripherally, just noticing them, so the lack of focus is not a problem. The only time I consistently notice it is when reading in bed. I like to lie on my side and read, and the book never lines up with the lenses in this situation. This is the only situation where I use a second pair of glasses. I keep a pair next to my bed for reading. I will sometimes notice the lack of focus at other times, but it is rare. For example, the other day I could feel a hair growing in my ear, so I went to the bathroom to tweeze it out, because even though I am getting old and wearing progressive lenses, I’ll be damned if I am going to stand for ear hair. When I looked, though, i couldn’t see the hair. I went and got my reading glasses, and could see it fine.

One other negative about progressive lenses is if you play sports. In golf, or tennis, where you are looking down, or movement is shifting from one part of the lens to another, it can make hitting the ball slightly more difficult. Having said that, it’s so minor that I keep putting off getting a pair of sports-only glasses.

So all in all, some minor negatives, but, IMO, vastly superior to any other option out there.

Here are my thoughts on Progressive lenses:

Nope, with a capital “N” and a capital “ope”… every day of the week and twice on Sunday!! I hate… Hate… HATE them with the intensity of a thousand suns!!!

I tried progressive lenses for a week. After 2 days I started getting a headache. After 4 days it got worse. By day 6 I stopped wearing them altogether because I just could not tolerate the headache.

I’m also in agreement that there are significant portions of the lens that just don’t do anything. I was told, “Just point your nose at what you want to see.” I call Bullshit on that! When I drive, my head stays still and I move my eyes to see my mirrors. There is no way I can drive safely while moving my entire head from one mirror to the next.

All in all, they may be fine for some people, but for me, they just didn’t work. I now wear bifocals and they work just fine.

I’m in agreement with everything said so far (oops! Sorry about your experience, Dragwyr…), but I’ll add that my first pair drove me nuts, but my second pair has been fine. What’s the difference? My first pair was somewhat longer horizontally in the lenses, so the distortion field was larger. It was a real danger when driving, for instance. My current pair has smaller, more rounded lenses - no prob. YMMV.

Progressives take some getting used to. For me, like the folks above, that process took a few days the first time I got them and a day or so each time I get an updated prescription.

OTOH my wife could never get used to them and still uses lined bifocals.

If the OP’s job is staring at a computer screen all day I’d strongly suggest getting a dedicated set of non-progressive “computer glasses”. I did that when that was my job and it was a huuuge improvement over wearing my ordinary distance-to-upclose progressives. And I’d had years of experience with progressives when I started the screen-centric job.

The computer glasses were made to be the ideal correction at arm’s length and that was it. They worked great for all my screen work and I could see adequately at distance to wander around the office, get coffee, etc. And see adequately up close to do a bit of quick reading or writing on paper (ewww paper) with some fuzziness and/or some squinting.

If I had to attend a meeting or give a presentation I brought along my ordinary distance-to-upclose progressives so I could see everything at every distance. For the small amount of time I spent working my screen it was tolerable that the “sweet spot” in the progressives was pretty narrow.

I don’t understand your peripheral vision concern. Your peripheral vision isn’t in focus, anyway.

I got my first pair of progressive lens glasses nearly a decade ago and I’ve never worn conventional bifocals in my life. I got them the same reason as you, I could no longer read the computer screen with my old glasses on, and if I took them off, I had to get within 12 inches of the screen to read it. I hated it.

Now, the progressive lenses were the first pair of new glasses I had gotten in a long, long time. My old glasses had glass lenses, if that gives you a clue. My new prescription corrected not only for my near vision, but a minor, but significant astigmatism as well. I had never had a prescription that corrected for astigmatism.

Anyway, my new glasses were the most expensive and most hated pair of glasses I had ever owned. It wasn’t the progressive part, that was great, but my distance vision was horrible. Sitting still, in bright daylight, it was fine, but driving at night was a nightmare. I couldn’t read road signs until I was right upon them. I went back to the ophthalmologist and she reexamined me. She said that my problem was my astigmatism. Because this was the first pair of glasses that corrected for it, my brain was “rebelling” because it had been correcting and no longer needed to. She said to no longer wear my old pair and my brain would accept and eventually adapt to not having to correct for the astigmatism.

Well, she was correct. In about a week, my most hated glasses became my best-loved ones. I could see better, both distance and close, than I had in years.

Again, I don’t understand your concern about peripheral vision. I’ll admit, my distance correction isn’t as bad as some, -3 to -3.5, but it’s bad enough that without my glasses I wouldn’t even consider driving, or even do anything outside. I get very annoyed wearing a hooded parka in the winter, because of the way it blocks my peripheral vision, but my progressive lenses have never bothered me.

Now, there are different types of progressive lenses. Varilux is perhaps the most well known (and expensive) and that is supposed to matter. I haven’t noticed. Lens shape is also a factor. Those short-wide lenses that are now the fashion seem to not be as adaptable to the progressive treatment as the larger lenses are.

So, how did they work out for me? Great! None of the drawbacks you mention and they fixed my problem. I do take them off for reading in bed, since wearing glasses in bed is hazardous (for my glasses), and sometimes when I need to get a close look at something I’ll take them off, but for everyday working on the computer, reading paper notes and memos, etc…, they’re fine. I’d hate to have to wear the old-fashioned type of bi-focals, and I think I’d go nuts if I had to take off my glasses and get within 12 inches of something just to read it.

About a year and a half ago, it got to the point where I couldn’t see shit out of my contacts, so I got progressive lens glasses. My husband had been wearing them for years, and loves them.

I’m OK with them. As others have said, I don’t find them great for reading and tend to take them off. They’re fine for everything else.

My husband is of the opinion that my prescription is off, and were I to get a better prescription, I could read with them. He may be right; he rarely, if ever, takes his off. I also wonder if maybe he’s just farther along the old-age-eye curve than I am, and that’s why they work better for him (he’s 10+ years older than me). I plan on talking about it with my eye doc when I get off my lazy ass and go back there.

Oh? Tell me more. What brand? I would MUCH prefer contacts but was told that the none of the progressive contact lenses are worth a damn.

They’ve been fine for me (after a short period of adjustment). I don’t (pun alert!) see any problems with my peripheral vision.

The only issue is to remember to drop them down a bit when I’m in the back row of a theater so I’m looking using the distance lense.

Another thing you might want to try is to get a bigger Monitor and sit father away from it.

What I meant was vision on the periphery of the lenses. For example, there’s a bag of M&M’s sitting on the left side of my desk. If I look through the left-hand corner of my glasses, I can read it fine. With progressive lenses, it seems, I would have to turn my head to read it – looking through that corner would be all blurry.

It just seems strange that so much of the lens would be essentially useless, especially since actual peripheral vision while wearing glasses is pretty much a wash.

I’ve been wearing progressives since 1999. It took 2 or 3 days to get used to them, but that was it. When we were still boat owners and actively sailing, I had to be hyper-aware of moving around on a rocking vessel because of the peripheral vision issue. I also always use the handrail on stairs, not entirely due to the glasses.

For me, the worst problem is when I can’t look at something straight-on. For example, crawling under my desk to futz with the back of my computer is a particular challenge. Same with stupid things like trying to use a screwdriver on a plane not directly in front of me. But I’ve learned to deal.

I’ve never had lined specs and I don’t think I ever would. I lurves my progressives!

OK, that makes sense. Yes, I do have to “point my nose” at what I am looking at to see it clearly. And, I have to make minor movements to get the best focus, but that is mostly for near-sight (which is what the lower lens is for). For distance, the only issue is what **RealityChuck **has mentioned, that when I need distance vision I can’t look out of the bottom of my glasses (like I used to do when I watched TV in bed), akin to his watching a movie from the high seats.

From reading the other responses, it does appear to be more people than I thought who object to what I consider to minor effects. To me, the benefit of having a single pair of glasses that corrects 95% of my vision issues (and removing them takes care of nearly all of the remaining 5%) and doesn’t tag me as an almost-ready-to-die old person far outweighs the need to make minor head movements to get the best focus.

For full disclosure, I have to say that I have recently had cataract surgery in my right eye, which no longer needs distance correction. For the first time in my memory I can see distance fine with no glasses, at least out of my right eye. I will be getting a prescription for reading for my right eye, which I suspect will be a minor distance correction with a progressive near correction. My new vision is less than 3 weeks old, so I do not know how it will end up, but considering that the cataract I had prevented my from having clear vision (close, far, whatever) regardless of correction, it is a great improvement. I think I will continue to wear glasses (even though I could pass the drivers eye exam now without them) since it is my belief that wearing glasses has prevented a lot of eye injuries for me over my lifetime and I don’t want to give that up.

Distinct from the prescription there are several other factors that have to be right for the glasses to work well. Especially with astigmatism.

I got a pair of varilux awhile ago. Expensive top of the line stuff. From a real optical shop, not the one-hour guys in the mall.

After a few days trying to adapt I found I still couldn’t see well out of them. I took the glasses and scrip to another optical shop. They measured the glasses & my head. And said one lens was made badly with the centerpoint where the pupil should align placed a few mm too high & too far out versus my head. So no matter how I stuck the glasses on my face or moved my eyes I couldn’t see well through both lenses as once.

I brought them back to the first place, fussed, and they remade the bad lens. Miraculous improvement.

I use the Lenscrafter “brand-name-Progressive” and keep a pair of antique-framed lined glasses around for history events so I know both pretty well. I would never go lined for daily wear; ever. I just couldn’t adapt to them in modern situations around the house and driving and the like. Yeah - the sides of my vision took a little adjustment but I caught on to the various involuntary tricks pretty fast. My only complaint is that after a change in my Rx, one pair to the next, I have a couple days of an almost motion sickness; very slight but that queasy stomach for a day or two. If I have a real radical difference in size between my sunglasses and regular glasses I can have a slight effect like that as well.

My base eye issue is/was being cross-eyed with old age being the addition needing bifocals.

As you can tell, it’s really a YMMV sort of case. I got my first ones last year, and I barely noticed any difference other than the fact I can now read things close to me again. (I just turned 40 and the age-related farsightedness–whose name escapes me–kicked in.) I mean, I don’t remember any period of adaptation beyond the usual sort of initial vertigo (or whatever you want to call it) the first few minutes you wear any sort of new prescription, standard or progressive. But that’s me. Obviously, as noted above, some people just cannot get used to them, and my eye doctor warned me of this before prescribing them. You just have to try and see.

As for peripheral vision, I haven’t noticed a difference at all, but my peripheral vision extends outside my glasses frame.

I’ve had progressives for years and like them very much. They didn’t take long to adjust to. They’re great for driving (can see distance as well as inside the car), reading, computer work, general walking around, shopping, etc.

I’d say the only thing they’re NOT good for would be for work where you’re not free to adjust your head, such as: working under the sink in a confined space (where you can’t move your head to focus), or hiking over big rocks (where you’re constantly having to look down at your footing and then up again to see where you’re going). But for those circumstances you can get a pair of single-vision lenses.