Four Reasons Why Progressive Lenses Don’t Work

by Dr Ryan Robison

It’s not unusual to hear patients say they have tried progressive lenses in the past and didn’t like them. They offer more visual ranges than bifocals, but if they are not made right then it can be frustrating. Here are the four main reasons why progressive lenses don’t work and when done correctly, why they do work quite nicely.

Reason #1. The prescription. Most people feel that if they can’t see clearly with their progressive lenses then the prescription is wrong. Obviously, if the prescription is off then vision is off. But, often the prescription is not the problem (see the other reasons below). Also, prescriptions can vary from time to time due to a number of reasons including dry eye, elevated blood sugars, past corneal surgeries and medications.

Reason #2. The measurements. A high level of accuracy is needed when the optician measures where to place the progressive lens. Even being off by one millimeter can make a difference. Having an experienced and highly trained optician is key. If you aren’t looking through the right part of the lens then vision will not be good.

Reason #3. The adjustments. Even after having the best prescription and the best optician measuring where to have the lenses placed, if the frame is not adjusted correctly, then you will be looking out of the wrong part of the lens. Sometimes a quick adjustment can make all the difference in the world.

Reason #4. The design. All progressive lenses are not created equal. You really do get what you pay for with progressive lenses. The name brand lenses (Varilux, Zeiss, Hoya and Shamir) are superior to the others. Their latest designs really are better than the older technology. If you question this, look at your cell phone and ask yourself how many generational improvements have been made to cell phones. What was it like 5 years ago, 10 years ago or even 20 years ago? Sadly, inexpensive progressive lenses are 10-20 year old technology lenses.

If you aren’t going to do progressive lenses right, then don’t do it at all. Stay with a lined bifocal. This may sound harsh but the reality is most people are frustrated with inferior progressive lenses. When someone says, “I’ve tried progressive lenses before and didn’t like them”, what they are really saying is that they experienced one or more of these four reasons. However, if you are ready to do progressive lenses the right way then call our office and talk to one of our opticians, Suzanne, John and Janet. They are all ABO Certified and each with 20+ years of experience. They are happy to help you. SouthWest Vision is located at 965 E 700 S, St George Utah. Call us at 435-673-5577 or visit our website at