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Thread: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Portland, OR

    Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

    OK - I'm now 45, and it was time to get new glasses, and as I figured, I now need a "bifocal" lens. So I got a progressive lens. I understand they take some time to get used to, and it's only day 2, but I find them a little disorienting, and I'm not happy with how narrow the on-axis field of view is, and there seems to be a "barrel distortion" effect on the lower half of the view.

    The optician said they would work with me to get a lens that I like, so should I go back to them and get a true bifocal, or should I try another progressive design?


  2. #2
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Rio Rancho, NM

    Re: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

    I tried progressive lenses a number of years back and hated them. In addition to the narrow field of in-focus view, I hated having to point my nose at what I wanted to see. A regular bifocal will provide a larger in-focus area, but also has the limitation of being optimally in focus at a specific distance - like a few inches, arm's length, or whatever you tell the optician.

  3. #3
    unexposed darr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

    Hi Kirk,

    I have been wearing Progressives for about seven years. It did take a little time to get use to them, but I have also had a couple of bad lenses made that my optician sent back to the lab for remakes. Ask your optician to check them for you. I understand lab quality control can be an issue.


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  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

    Kirk, I tried progressives a number of years ago, hated 'em. Didn't do as Darr did, investigate the possibility of lab error, because in addition to seeming to have not quite the right correction for distance vision they distorted near objects badly.

    The top of a coffee cup, for example, is a circle. With the progressives, when I looked at my cup I saw an oval. I reasoned that this is inherent in lenses whose power varies across the field, so didn't bother with looking for other possible problems. After giving them a month, I went back to trifocals. I found adjusting to them impossible.

    I'm still wearing trifocals, don't plan to try progressives again. My big objection to trifocals is the people who make them. Unless I make a huge fuss they put the zones where they think best, not where I want them.



  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    Re: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?


    Are you near-sighted or far-sighted?

    Regardless, I'd get two pair of glasses. Get one for your view camera that optimizes your eyes for whatever viewing distance you use to your ground glass. You could maybe also use these for reading. I like to read close, so I use mine for reading. Not all optometrists know how to do this.

    Then, get a second set for distance, if you still need that. My distance glasses are optimized for infinity, not 20 feet like most distance glasses. Again, not all optometrists know how to do that.

  6. #6
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    USA, North Carolina

    Re: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kirk Keyes View Post
    OK - I'm now 45, and it was time to get new glasses, and as I figured, I now need a "bifocal" lens. So I got a progressive lens. I understand they take some time to get used to...
    Been there, done that. I used mine for a full week. Never could get used to them. At all. I think "progressive" lenses will always be a problem for photographers in particular because of the distortions. If you are like me (and you are an LF photographer, so you are at least a little like me ;-) you want to stand and survey the scene looking for the right perspective from which to make the photograph. And for me that means holding my head still and moving my eyes. And that's just not how progressive lenses work.

    I had to go through a few iterations with "normal" bifocals. It's difficult to get the "height" right (how far the "near" lens is positioned under the pupil), and the width of the near lens is also interesting. I found that I needed the middle width (I forget the actual dimensions) so that I could read a book without having to move my head. Finally, I had to back off the near prescription a quarter of a diopter. Apparently my O.D. was more pessimistic about my eye's accommodation capabilities than he needed to be.

    They say the first fitting is the most difficult. Now I know why! At least I can read a menu without having to take my glasses off now, and I guess that's a good thing, yes?

    Bruce Watson

  7. #7
    Eric Woodbury
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Re: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

    FYI I'm far sighted and my eyes are unbalanced.

    I now have my second pair of progressives. I like them. With the first pair, the lenses were more oval and thus cut off more of the 'close focus' area. When it was time to re-up, I asked about getting a larger reading area and now I have a rounder lens. This works fine. The barrel distortion doesn't go away as you are looking thru a lens of varying magnifications. However, it gets so you don't notice it much. I used to notice it when I moved my head, but now I think I close my eyes when my head is moving or something to ignore that distortion. I do some woodworking and it is hard to evaluate straight lines with progressives. For this I use a straight edge or sight directly down the edge. For computer work, I have a one magnification lenses in a half-glasses style. Good for reading, too, and spotting prints. With these I don't have to tilt my head back all the time. For focusing on the ground glass, I use drug store glasses or a loupe. I also have some +5 lenses, but if you are trying to focus on the GG with these, then it is hard to tell if the image is out of focus or if your out of the depth of focus range of the eyeglasses.

    A friend of mine with progressives said that he had to sign up for trying progressives for 2 weeks before he could return them. It didn't take him that long to like them, but I thought that was an interesting condition for refusal.
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  8. #8

    Join Date
    May 2002

    Re: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

    I tried progressives when I reached the age of bifocal eyeballs about 7 years ago. The lab gave me a 30 day bring-em-back period to try the progressives, or I could take them back and get standard bifocals. I made it 10 days until I decided I was tired of falling up the stairs, walking into door jambs, etc. Never again.

    Progressive eyeglass lenses were not invented as an improvement in vision technology. They were invented for a narcissistic population who can't stand the thought of themselves getting old and looking like it.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2002

    Re: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

    You get used to them in time. It took me a couple of weeks. I wear them most of the time, but i have to wear normal glasses when doing anything athletic. The problem with progressives is you have no vertical peripheral vision. Try getting onto an escalator with them.

    For reading, working at a desk or on the computer, driving and using a lf camera, they are good. I prefer normal glasses for everything else.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Westminster, MD

    Re: Progressive Lenses - a mistake?

    Like anything, takes time getting use to.

    I've always had progressive lenses.

    The problem when I started was that the optician cut the lenses wrong, I complained, but they said I simply had to get use to them. Fortunately I nicked the lens within two weeks, had an extended guarantee, so took them back. When they measured them for a replacement, they saw that the lenses WERE cut wrong, and apologized for not believing me in the first place.

    A good shop with give you a try out period so you can return them.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

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