Progressive Lenses – the ‘no-line’ spectacle option

You can’t help feeling somewhat old – even if you’re only in your forties or so – when wearing traditional bifocal glasses. The line across your bifocal lenses gives away your vision woes and you can only see up close when looking through the bottom portion of your glasses. And let’s face it – reading with your glasses perched on the tip of your upturned nose just doesn’t make you look youthful and vibrant, does it? But spectacles with progressive (multifocal) lenses do…

Bifocal, trifocal and multifocal lenses

That top bit above that dividing line on bifocals enables you to see afar and the bottom section is for closer tasks, such as reading. Trifocal glasses have three different focus areas, a top segment for far distance, middle for intermediate and lower for close-up tasks. By contrast, progressive lenses (progressive addition lenses or ‘PAL’) are truly ‘multifocal’ lenses and have no visible lines or focus areas at all. The different areas of focus blend seamlessly together, so your progressive glasses simply look like fashion eyewear – but behind the lens you’re able to see perfectly, whether for far, middle or close distances.

Benefits of progressive lenses

  • You can see all distances and experience only a gentle focus shift, as opposed to the jarring ‘image jump’ experienced then your vision passes over the different focus areas of bifocals and trifocals.
  • Multifocal lenses are the best option for blurred vision (presbyopia), common in close-up viewing after the age of 40.
  • Whereas trifocals provide two focus segments and bifocals three, multifocals can have as many different focus areas as required.
  • Progressive lenses are equally successful whether you suffer from myopia (short sightedness), hyperopia (far sightedness) or presbyopia (blurred vision), with shorter adjustment periods required.
  • No need to wear massive spectacle frames, as multifocals can be customised to suit smaller, fashionable frames.
  • Aesthetically speaking, multifocal lenses win hands down – they always make you look good!

Getting fitted for progressive lenses

  • Your first step would be to choose your spectacle frames, considering your eye and face shape, colouring and fashion preferences.
  • Remember that multifocals can also be polarised or tinted and fitted to sunglass frames to ensure your eyes operate optimally and are protected in harsh UV light.
  • As mentioned, multifocal lenses mean you’re no longer restricted to ‘owl eye’ frames (unless these are your thing!), so if you prefer smaller, more compact frames then you’re in luck.
  • After a thorough eye examination to determine the state of your eyes and the correct prescription for your lenses, your optometrist will carefully measure your eyes and spectacle frame.
  • The vertical middle section of your multifocals serves as a ‘corridor’ that contains the most optimal lens power. Particular attention will be paid to accuracy of measurement, to ensure this corridor is spot on and you are able to see clearly and smoothly when viewing all distances.

TrueSight – progressive lens technology

TrueSightIf you are lucky enough to have an optometrist with a HOYA TrueSight machine, the fitting of your multifocals will not only be the most highly accurate available – it will also be lots of fun! You would normally use this interactive machine after a standard eye examination and it accurately assesses and measures your eyes and frames – in 15 seconds! You can also experience what it’s like to look through progressive lenses, compare these with bifocals and trifocals and, as an added bonus, you can view yourself in a variety of frames before making your choice.

Information provided by Dr Jan Coetzee of Insight Optometrists, Indooroopilly (Brisbane, Queensland). Dr Coetzee holds a doctorate in optometry and is dedicated to raising awareness of eye health issues and providing high quality, protective eyewear. Insight Optometrists is also an accredited member of the Eyecare Plus group, a select collective of clinically-driven optometry practices across Australia. More info: www.insightoptom.com.au.