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Home » Your Eye Health » Vision Over 40 » How Progressive Lenses Work

How Progressive Lenses Work

Progressive lenses or progressive addition lenses (PALs) are the most popular multifocal lenses today, offering an effective and great looking vision solution for individuals with presbyopia (age-related near vision loss). The main advantage of progressive lenses over standard bifocals or trifocals is that they don’t have a visible line bisecting the lens, but rather a seamless and gradual change in power as you move down the lens. Rather than two or three distinct zones (for near, far and intermediate), progressive lenses offer a smooth transition of focal powers that covers the total range of clear vision from close to far and every point in between.

As we age, particularly after the age of 40, our near vision begins to deteriorate. Progressive lenses allow you to see at all distances with one pair of glasses. They start with your distance prescription (if you have one) at the top of the lens and increase as you move toward the bottom of the lens. You simply move your head position to allow you to focus through different areas of the lens. Move your head upwards to see something in the distance, hold it straight for intermediate or arm’s length vision and down for near vision for objects that are close up.
In addition to the aesthetic improvement of the lens without the line segments (which tend to make people look and feel older as well), PALs avoid the visual discontinuity or image-jump when your eyes shift from one zone to the other in non-progressive multifocals.

Adapting to Progressive Lenses

While most people adapt to progressive lenses fairly quickly (many immediately), for some, getting comfortable vision with progressive lenses can take a few days. This is normal as you need to train your eyes to look through the appropriate area of the lens and get used to the slight adjustments when you move from one area to another – especially if you move your head quickly. If you find that you are not adapting to the lenses after a few days, speak to your eye doctor- they may not be the right fit or the right option for you.

Types of Progressive Lenses

There are a number of options for progressive lenses which vary in style, price and function.

Standard PALs
Standard progressive lenses must fit to your vision needs. They can be added to frames of your choice, but you need to ensure that the frames are the right width and height proportions to grant enough space for the gradient changes in the lens. Otherwise only a small area will remain for the distance or near vision zones.

Short Corridor PALS
To overcome the issue mentioned above, there are now progressive lenses called “short corridor” lenses made to fit into smaller frames to suit a wider range of eyewear styles.

Computer PALS
Also known as “near variable focus lenses” or “office lenses”, these specialized PALs are designed specifically for computer users and other occupations that require strong intermediate and distance vision. For computer users that work at a computer for many hours, these lenses will help to reduce eye strain, eye fatigue and other symptoms of computer vision syndrome that come from looking at a computer for extended periods.

PALs for reading
Individuals who enjoy reading can opt for a pair of lenses with a larger close vision zone. Free-form lenses offer a customizable surface with a wider area for near vision.

Progressive lenses are a great option for most individuals who require multifocal or reading glasses and still want to maintain a youthful look and appearance. Speak to your eye doctor about your specific needs and lifestyle to find the best option for you.

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Dear patients,

As your eye care professionals, your well-being is important to us! After careful consideration of the most recent recommendations of the CDC, AOA and FDA regarding the current COVID-19 situation, we feel that it is best for you, our team, and our community to limit our physical interactions with one another until the threat of the virus has passed. Therefore, we will be closing the office on Friday, March 20 at 12:00 noon and will remain closed until at least March 27, but most likely longer.

In the meantime, if you have a true ocular emergency, please call 850-216-2020 to reach the doctor on call. We will be doing our best to manage all urgent eye problems in such a manner as to limit any possible spread of the virus.

For those patients with appointments scheduled for the week of March 23, we will be calling to reschedule your appointments once we have a better estimate regarding when we will reopen. Because our schedule is already quite full for the next several weeks and because we realize that many of you have already waited several weeks for an appointment, we will be adding additional time slots to the weekly schedule as we attempt to accommodate each of you in a timely manner. We ask for your patience and your flexibility in this matter.

In addition, if it appears to still be reasonable, we plan to be open briefly on Wednesday, March 25 from 10:00am -12:00 pm to allow our patients to pick up any previously-ordered glasses and contact lenses. Please call the office when you arrive and we will deliver your eyewear to your car.

If you need to order contact lenses during this time please email the office at

contacts@tallahasseeeyecenter.com. Be sure to include your contact information and someone will reach out to you. We will do our best to monitor this email daily.

Online ordering is also available at www.tallahasseeeyecenter.com

We will be closely monitoring the situation and will notify you as soon as we make the decision to reopen. It is our hope that we will soon be on the other side of this situation and that our community will remain healthy and strong.

Stay well, Drs. Whaley, Strickland and Hough