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Progressives, Bifocals, and Reading Glasses

As we get older, the lenses in our eyes become less flexible.

This is presbyopia, and it affects the majority of people older than 40. It’s why most people end up needing reading glasses even if they never needed glasses before. For those who already wear glasses or contacts, presbyopia makes things a little more complicated. You might choose to combine contacts with reading glasses or wear bifocals (or even trifocals if you spend a lot of time on computers) or progressives.

Bifocals and Trifocals: Pros and Cons

The way bifocals work is very simple. They’re basically two lenses combined into one pair of glasses, with the prescription for presbyopia nestled towards the bottom and the prescription for nearsightedness taking up the rest of the lens. As presbyopia gets worse, you may need an additional prescription to help with middle distances, like when working on a computer. These kinds of glasses with triple lenses are trifocals.

As simple as they are, they do have a downside: where the different prescriptions meet in the lens, there is a jarring image jump effect. They’re also culturally associated with middle and old age, just like braces are associated with teenagers, and many patients may not want to wear something they believe broadcasts their age.

Avoid the Image Jump: Progressive Lenses

If you don’t like the sound of the downsides of bifocals and trifocals and you don’t want to wear contacts with reading glasses, a sleek modern option is progressive lenses. These lenses combine multiple prescriptions into one continuous lens, taking out the jarring lines and the obvious appearance of bifocals. All it takes is tilting your head the right way to see clearly at any distance.

Push Through the Adjustment Period

Any change in your prescription can take a few days to get used to, but that’s especially true with your first pair of progressive lenses. They will likely feel uncomfortable at first, but you can help yourself adjust quickly by following these tips:

  1. Fight the temptation to switch back to your old glasses when they feel uncomfortable. This will only reset the clock on getting used to progressives and prolong any eye strain symptoms.
  2. It should feel very natural when you look through the “corridor of power” in the middle of the lens. If it doesn’t, that could mean the fit is off and needs adjusting.
  3. Practice switching between focusing on distant and close objects by watching TV while reading.
  4. Practice moving your head rather than your eyes to see clearly at different distances.

Bring Us Your Questions and Your Glasses!

If close-up objects have become a little fuzzier lately, schedule an appointment with us to learn more about how progressive lenses and whether they’re the best option for you. We can also make sure your glasses perfectly fit your face while you’re here!

Helping our patients see clearly is what we love to do!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain 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.