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Eye and Vision Care

Bifocal vs progressive lenses

02/19/2006

Question:

I am in my late forties and have been given a prescription for progressive lenses. When I tried a mock up at my local optical store, the biggest issue I saw with the progressive lenses was that I saw quite a bit of distortion towards the outside of the lenses which I did not see with the bifocal mock up. What are the pros and cons of going with each and are there any specific lenses that would lessen the distortion that I saw with the progressives? My script is plus 1.75 and I work on the computer daily for hours. Thanks in advance

Answer:

Progressive Addition Lenses (PAL's), also known as "no-line bifocals", are very popular now. They not only provide an excellent cosmetic choice for aging baby-boomers (like me!), but also offer a wide range of lens powers as patients move their eyes from the mid-lens area to a lower portion of the lens. But just like medicines that can have unwanted side effects, these new lenses have an unwanted optical side effect: visual distortions in the periphery that patients must learn to ignore.

These lenses must be prescribed very carefully. The measurements for distance-between-pupils and level-of-optical-centers must be prescribed within 0.5 millimeters.

Explain your near vision needs to your eye doctor. If you have a wide desk and need good vision at its edges, a lined bifocal or special pair of reading glasses only may be a better option for you.

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Response by:

Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO Robert D Newcomb, OD, MPH, FAAO
Professor Emeritus of Clinical Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University