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How Do Progressive Lenses Work? Moving on From Multifocals

Your eyes have worked hard for you all your life so it’s not surprising that as you mature, they need a little extra help. For example, you might start to notice that it’s more difficult to read anything close-up — like a message on your phone or the ingredients on an item in the grocery store. Or you might find that objects are starting to blur around the edges or you’re getting a headache from eye strain. 

These common vision problems are often age-related and simply need a specific kind of vision correction. Enter progressive lenses.

So how do progressive lenses work? Let’s take a look at what they are, why you might need them, and how they help you see better. We’ll also suggest where to get your progressive glasses so they improve your vision and give you multiple options to match your personality and your look for the day.

Who Needs Bifocals or Progressive Lenses?

To understand how progressive lenses work, we first need to look at why you might need them.

As you get older, your eyes naturally lose some flexibility, which makes it harder for them to change focus between objects that are far away and those that are close-up. This is known as presbyopia.

If you had good vision before, you may simply need single-vision reading glasses. A type of progressive lens with a neutral top section can work well for reading too, especially if you don’t want to take your glasses on and off all day.

However, if you were already wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses for myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), or astigmatism, you’ll probably now need either two pairs of glasses or to shift from single-vision lenses to multifocal lenses. Multifocal lenses have different sections and each portion of the lens has a different lens power.

What’s the Difference Between Bifocals and Progressive Lenses?

How do progressive lenses work: black and white eyeglasses on a yellow background

Simply put, progressive lenses are the new bifocals.

Traditional bifocal lenses and trifocal lenses have visible lines that separate each part of the lens. This causes an image jump as you shift your focus between objects at different distances. It’s also a dead giveaway that the wearer’s eyesight isn’t great — not ideal if you don’t especially want to advertise your age.

Luckily, technology has come a long way and opticians can now offer many more lens options to restore clear vision. Progressive addition lenses (or PAL for short) are no-line bifocals that allow for a smooth transition between the different fields of vision. That means no more eye strain or vision jumping as you shift from distance vision to near vision.

Now, we’re finally ready to answer our question: How do progressive lenses work?

So How Do Progressive Lenses Work?

Progressive lenses aim to mimic the way that the eye works. Instead of your eyes adjusting to different distances on their own, your progressive eyeglass lenses do that for you — more naturally than bifocals.

So instead of holding your phone or your store receipt at arm’s length to read it, you simply look through the bottom of the lens, which is calibrated for near vision. Then when you’re driving or watching your child on the sports field, you look through the top of the lens, which helps with distance vision — and you can still easily glance down to check your speed or your phone. The transition section in the center helps you see objects in the middle distance, for example, if you’re focusing on your computer screen. 

So essentially, you’re getting trifocals but without those distracting hard lines. Your eyes can adjust smoothly as you look down and then look up again. 

Getting Used to Your Progressive Lenses

Even if you understand how progressive lenses work, it can still take a little while to get used to them. You may experience initial symptoms like eye strain, dizziness, or blurred peripheral vision while your eyes and brain adjust. In the first couple of weeks, wear your new pair of glasses as often as possible but take extra care with activities like walking up or down stairs while you get used to which part of the lens to look through. You may even want to avoid driving for a week or two until you’re feeling completely comfortable.

Remember that basic eye care plays a role here too. Looking after your eye health means eating well, drinking enough water, and taking regular breaks from looking at the computer screen.

If you’re still struggling after a month or so though, visit your eye doctor again to make sure your prescription, lens design, and fit are correct.

Where to Find Progressive Glasses

Group of friends happily wearing eyeglasses

As your vision needs change with age and circumstances, you’ll need new eyewear. Your first step should be a visit to your optometrist for an eye test and an updated prescription

If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, be sure to mention this while you’re there. Some of your symptoms may also be signs of computer vision syndrome — in this case you might need computer glasses specifically for computer work. These usually have a larger middle-distance section of the lens, so the prescription will be slightly different. They should ideally also have blue-light filters to protect your eyes from the harmful light rays emitted by many devices.

Once you have your new prescription, you can choose your new frames. A great place to start is Pair Eyewear, which has a wide range of frames to choose from. The best part about Pair Eyewear is that once you’ve chosen your Base Frame (our Virtual Try-On feature can help you out), you can add as many Top Frames as your heart desires.

Each Top Frame clips magnetically to the base frame, so you can choose a range that suits your every need, from your personality and interests to your outfit. For example, if you’re into art, you may like a Top Frame from the Van Gogh collection. Or if you’re a regular at NBA or NHL games or a Major League Baseball fan, you’ll find a pair to cheer on your team. And for that extra special day or a night out, you’ll love our Special Occasion and Sparkle ranges. 

Note that all Pair glasses are made from hard-wearing materials — the frames from cellulose acetate and the lenses from polycarbonate. They’re also scratch-resistant, anti-reflective, and 100% UV protective, so they’ll protect your eyes whether you’re indoors or out.

Once you’ve made your Top Frame selection, choose the type of prescription — in this case, progressive lenses. You can then specify if you’d like any special features, like blue-light filters for screen time or light-responsive lenses that darken when they’re exposed to sunlight. Once you’ve added those to the cart, you can upload your prescription. Finally, consider adding a cleaning kit to keep your glasses sparkling clean.

Progressive Lenses Can Help You Navigate the World

If your vision isn’t as good as it used to be — and especially if you’re struggling to switch between different distances — you may need progressive lenses. Progressive lenses are an update on the old-school multifocals, which had a distinct line between the different fields of vision. They allow your eyes to adjust smoothly as you change your field of vision. 

How do progressive lenses work? Each section of the lens is designed to help you see at a specific distance. The bottom part is for close-up work, while the top part helps you to see at a distance, with the center helping you transition between the two. 

Get your progressive glasses from Pair Eyewear today. You’ll feel in control of your world again, seeing clearly both near and far, and you’ll look good doing it.