Q: I tried those invisible bifocals several years ago and had trouble getting used to them. I don’t love having lines in my glasses, but are there other choices?
A: We encounter this sort of dilemma frequently in the office...when a patient had a poor experience with some technology in the past and is seeking new options. Progressive lenses ( the real name for “invisible” or “ no line bifocals” ) have come a long way. Today’s designs are the world’s better in several ways. First, the reading area in the lower part of the lenses is much wider and sharper now. Second, the “intermediate” zone to give you clear vision at about arm’s length ( think computer screens ) is wider and easier to use. Third, the side areas are clearer now than years ago. This means your side vision is more natural and clear ( think checking your side mirrors ).
Most patients now find that today’s progressive lenses are easy to use and dramatically better than the older style they tried previously. The technology has come so far that not only do we have progressives for general everyday vision needs, but also have specialized designs. These are meant for computer users, musicians, and even younger people in their thirties with fatigue issues after a long day on the screens.
The trouble is that every old-style progressive ever made is still sold! As these older styles are less expensive, they more often are sold as a bargain-priced option. This can perpetuate the dissatisfaction as people even today commonly are sold an old style design. It is virtually impossible to be a good consumer of progressive lenses….you must rely on your prescriber’s integrity and knowledge to select the best design for your specific vision needs.
We do have some patients who prefer to stay in a standard “ line bifocal ” but usually because they cost less than any progressive. We even have a few patients who still wear trifocal lenses, with not two, but three, different powers in the lenses. But overall, progressives give you an infinite number of powers as you look down through the lenses...focusing closer and closer, as you need demand. As a general rule, I would advise you to ask your eye doctor or optician about the various progressives and invest in a new pair.
Please realize that you will likely wear these lenses every day for two to three years, so the higher cost can be justified by the fact that you may wear these for about a thousand days! What else do you use every day, all day, for a thousand days? The vast majority of people wearing progressives are very happy with them. You will no doubt hear stories of someone who hates their glasses, but that really is the exception. I would recommend you try the new technology with an open mind. You will likely be pleasantly surprised.