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Progressive Lenses

Around the age of 40, most people start to have difficulty focusing at close range. The first sign that something's changing is that, even with your normal glasses, you can't satisfactorily focus on small print or near objects.

If you're who has trouble reading fine print, you have more lens options than the old lined bifocals your parents wore. Progressive lenses, sometimes called "no-line bifocals," are multifocal lenses that eliminate the lines of a bifocal or trifocal lens. They look exactly like single vision lenses so nobody will know your arms have gotten too short to see small print!

We have three basic ranges of vision. The distance range is anything farther away like road signs and people approaching. The mid-range is for seeing things at arm's length such as dashboards, computer screens and items on shelves while shopping. The near range is for reading and seeing up close.

Progressive lenses provide an uninterrupted view of the world with a gradual focus change from far to near and everything in between without the traditional bifocal line.

Multi-focal progressive lenses offer the crispest, smoothest, most comfortable vision at all distances. There is no need to carry 2 pairs of glasses or put up with unsightly bifocal lines. With these tips, adapting to your progressive lenses will take practically no time at all.

Patients must learn about progressive lenses so they can understand how to use them and what to expect.


  1. Accept that your new progressive lenses are not likely to work the moment you put them on. The most important step to adjusting to progressive lenses is understanding you are asking your eyes to completely change the way they have been working.
  2. Prepare to test each area of the lens. The progressive bifocal lens has a small area for reading at the bottom of the lens, a slightly wider corridor for mid-range going up the center of the lens, and it opens up to a large area of prescription for your distance vision in the top of the lens. You already understand that making the transition from one range of vision to another is probably not going to be comfortable at this moment, but what you can test is the clarity of vision through each of those areas of the lens. Put your progressive lens eyeglasses on.
  3. Hold your reading material up close at your usual reading distance. Your eyes should drop naturally to the bottom of the lens to view through the reading area of the glasses. Although technology is improving every day, the size of that reading space does not cover the whole bottom portion of the lens so you may have to move your head slightly to find the area of greatest clarity. If you find a good clear area for reading you can assume that portion of your prescription is correct and move on to test the intermediate area of the lenses.
  4. Hold your reading material at arm's length and repeat the vision test from Step 3. You are just looking for good visual acuity at this point. Once you find you can see well at that range, move on to the distance.
  5. Look straight ahead at the distance. Look down the street. Look at people around you. Look at the clock. If you find good clear vision at this distance, too, you know that your prescription is correct and that you know where to find the ranges of vision. Now it is time to work on functioning with the glasses.
  6. Walk around, carefully, while wearing the glasses. Keep your eyes straight ahead. Vision should be clear. Then move your eyes slowly to the outside edges of the glasses and notice that the vision becomes less clear. Do the same while looking out and slowly dropping your eyes lower in the lenses. The lower you get, the worse the vision becomes. This is because your eyes are looking through the prescription for mid- and close range. The key is to train your eyes to automatically find that "sweet spot" in the lenses that corresponds with the distance at which you are looking. It feels awkward at first but it will become second nature.

Adjusting to Progressive Lenses

If you're new to progressive lenses, you may need a little time to get used to them. No-line bifocals will slightly alter your peripheral vision due to power changes that occur at the edges of the lenses. This initial difference in your peripheral vision will probably require some slight changes in horizontal head and eye movements. Sensitivity to this area of the lens will diminish with time as you become more accustomed to your new lenses.

For most, the adaptation period will only last a few hours. Some individuals may need from several days to two weeks before they become completely comfortable. If you've been wearing your lenses for this period of time or longer and your vision feels uncomfortable in any way, contact your eye care professional for an evaluation.

Peripheral Distortions from Progressive Lenses

If you do have blur or a swimming feeling, it will help to point your nose at whatever you are looking at in order to avoid looking through the periphery of the lens. As you adjust, you will not have to worry about your head position anymore. This peripheral distortion may also cause a "swimming" feeling at first which should go away with adaptation.

To adjust quickly to your new Progressive Lenses:

  • Stop wearing your old glasses immediately.
  • Wear your new glasses non-stop throughout the day.
  • Wear your new glasses high on the bridge of your nose and as close to your face as possible.
  • Move your head vertically until the object glides into focus.
  • To look at an object, turn your head and look directly toward it (do not just turn your eyes). Then simply raise or lower your chin until the object comes into focus.

Tips & Warnings

  1. Remember to point your nose directly at what you want to see. Then raise or lower your chin until the object comes into the best focus.
  2. If you pick your new progressives up in the afternoon, put them away until the next morning when your eyes are fresh. In the middle of the day your eyes are already in high gear and adjusted to what they have to work with. They will fight against the new prescription and you will get frustrated.
  3. Adapting to progressive lenses takes time and there is no gradual progress being made. You will be frustrated and hate them equally on the first day, the second day, the third day, and so on. Then one magic day, maybe day 5, you will wake up and it will be like you have worn them your whole life.
  4. Be careful when walking around for the first few days until your eyes are used to the prescription variations in the lenses. It is easy to misjudge what is in front of you and trip on steps if you are looking through the wrong area.