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Progressive Lenses Explained: Pros, Cons, Options

Progressive Lenses Explained: Pros, Cons, Options

Medically reviewed by Dr. Karen Dorman. Dr. Karen Dorman is a Doctor of Optometry who was in private practice on Long Island, NY for over 40 years. She was also an Adjunct Associate Professor of Biology at St. John's University in Queens, NY. She received a BA in biology from Albany State University and her OD degree from New York College of Optometry in NYC. She is currently consulting and mentoring virtually due to the ongoing pandemic.

Looking to find out what progressive lenses are and how can you use them for crystal clear vision? In this guide, we’ll answer many questions you have on the topic.

You will learn how these ingenious pieces of engineering work, who needs them, when to wear them, and a few of the biggest progressive lens pros and cons to consider. So, whether you’re hearing about progressive lenses for the first time or are an experienced user with some specific questions, this guide has you covered !


What Are Progressive Addition Lenses (PALs)?

Progressive lenses are a type of multifocal correction used to correct distance, intermediate (computer usage), and near (reading usage) within the same lens. Progressives are sometimes referred to as varifocals in Europe.

progressive lenses eyewear

what are progressive lenses eyeglasses
Swanky Eyeglasses with Progressive HD Lenses

As shown in the picture, the distance prescription is at the top and the power gradually changes to your reading prescription as you move farther down the lens.

A progressive lens is an amazing piece of engineering, allowing multiple vision corrections to be incorporated into a single lens without any clear distinction or lines between the different corrections. The power in the lenses “progressively” changes from far to intermediate to near .

Progressives make the transition between prescriptions much smoother , eliminating that obvious line between prescriptions in conventional bifocals and trifocals. This technology gives you a more natural vision.

How Much Do Progressive Lenses Cost?

PALS tend to be pricier than others because you’re effectively getting three lenses in one. The costs are determined by several factors, many of them mentioned throughout this guide. One of the biggest factors is the type of progressive lenses you get.

Digital PALS are more expensive but are more customized and specific to your individual needs , which is key to providing an optimal visual experience.

Other factors that influence the cost of PAL glasses are your prescription and the brand of frames you choose . But remember that a single pair of progressive lenses can replace multiple pairs of glasses, which could save you money in the long run .

Reference the following progressive lens comparison chart for more information on cost.

progressive lenses

Cost comparison between the main types of progressive lenses:

  • Progressive Digital Lenses: $225
  • Progressive High Index Lenses: $300
  • Progressive Sunglasses Lenses: $265
  • Progressive Digital Lenses Photochromatic: $345

Most Vint & York optical frames can be fitted with these progressive lenses – just add your favorite frame and be sure to select “Progressive Lenses” during the checkout.

Complimentary anti-reflective and anti-scratch coatings are included with all progressive lens purchases.

Find your perfect frame & lenses option

Our progressive lenses are available in:

1) Polycarbonate material for lighter, thinner, and impact-resistant wear (starting at $225)
2) High-Index material for even lighter and thinner lenses. We recommend this option for stronger prescriptions (starting at $300)

Which Brand of Progressive Lenses Is the Best?

Varilux is widely credited as being the industry standard. It is the most prescribed brand, and has high adaptability rates. However, labs and lens manufacturers have created private-label PALS that are comparable , including Essilor, the manufacturer of Varilux.

Vint & York offers premium progressive lenses from ZEISS, SHAMIR, VARILUX and many more. Drop by our store to find your perfect fit – you can find us in the heart of Nolita.

best progressive eyeglasses
The Fitzgerald eyeglasses with progressive lenses

Progressive Lens Advantages

If you are still wondering if progressive lenses are the better option for you, you’ll want to check out these advantages and disadvantages to make an informed decision.

One of the major advantages is that the design of progressive lenses blends the prescription . There is no image jump or visible line on the lens. This enhances your comfort with your lenses and can be safer when performing tasks such as driving.

Convenience is another big advantage . With progressive lenses, you don’t have to take them off when switching between visual tasks such as working on a computer and driving.

PALs incorporate an intermediate correction that conventional bifocals don’t have . Progressive lenses correct distance, intermediate, and reading vision within one lens. It’s like killing three birds with one stone.

Find your perfect frame & lenses option

Progressive Lens Disadvantages

There are occasionally problems with progressive lenses when walking up and downstairs . Since the reading correction is at the bottom, the stairs may appear closer than they actually are . However, it’s all about adapting to your progressive lenses. Pr oblem s often disappear in about a week or two , so it’s important to give it a time when you’re adjusting to a new pair.

All measurements must be exact when creating a pair of progressive addition glasses. The optical center of the lenses must be placed exactly in front of your pupils in order for the lenses to work correctly. Problems with adaptation are often because the lenses aren’t centered correctly in the frame.

Since the same eyeglass frames may sit higher on your face, and lower on someone else’s, individual specifications and measurements ensure your optimal comfort and optical experience.

Some people may feel like they just don’t like progressive lenses and that they’re too hard to get used to. Progressive lenses aren’t for everyone. A small percentage of people are unable to adapt to them, and in these case s , bifocals might be a better alternative.

How Do Progressive Lenses Work?

Progressive lenses let multiple visual distances be corrected in a single lens, and “progressively” adjust for distance, intermediate, and reading. Even if you wear over-the-counter readers, progressive lenses can be made for you.

progressive lenses eyeglasses

You can also think about it this way: It’s like having three sets of lenses in one; all without ever having to change your eyeglasses.

Digital Progressive Lenses

Digitally finished lenses are computer engineered for optimum clarity and accuracy . This gives them the ability to customize regions of the lens to suit an individual. A digital surfacing lens ensures the most precise prescription based on the shape of your face, how you prefer to wear your frame, and the position of your eyes.

Digital progressive lenses have a wider area for distortion-free reading and sharp distance visio n. An additional benefit of getting the digital progressive lenses is gaining a high clarity vision in the intermediate distance area (between reading and distance). This increased vision is very useful for computer use and other everyday activities.

In addition, the wider and more accurate channels and corridors mean that you’ll have better peripheral vision.

O ur p rogressive l enses are developed with Digital Freeform technology – the most advanced on the market – and our laboratory is equipped to handle all types of prescriptions and produce the most accurate true digital free-form progressive lenses. Our progressive lenses go through a rigorous quality control process and are stamped with the “V&Y” watermark upon passing the test.

Get your personalized specs now

Progressive Lenses vs. Bifocals

Alas, the inevitable progressive lenses vs bifocal debate. Fortunately, it can be broken down in a simple way.

progressive lenses vs bifocals

How do progressive lenses differ from ordinary bifocals?

Bifocal lenses provide a distinct distance and near viewing area, but no intermediate area (3-1 0 feet away). These viewing areas are separated by a noticeable line that can be awkward, abrupt, and frustrating to the wearer. Progressive lenses have no lines and no image jump . This allows for a continuous field of vision. Conventional bifocals tend to be more of an alternate or second-best option. With the rise in computer usage, most people need intermediate correction as well as distance and reading.

Progressive Lenses vs. Other Types of Lenses

Trifocals are similar in design to bifocals except that they have 3 areas of focus (distance, intermediate, and near) instead of 2 areas (distance and near) in bifocals. Trifocals and bifocals have similar disadvantages and are not prescribed as often as progressives.

There is also a lens known as a blended bifocal. Blended bifocals are similar to conventional bifocals except the line between the distance and reading portion of the lens is “blended out” so the line isn’t noticeable . They correct distance and near, but not intermediate.

What Do Progressive Lenses Look Like?

To the naked eye, progressive lenses look like most other lenses. A trained eye care professional will be able to identify them.

Most progressive lenses will have laser etchings in the lens that are virtually invisible to the wearer and can only be seen using a special “identifier.” These laser etchings will give information about the specifications of the lens.

how do progressive lenses look like

Shop progressive glasses starting at $225, in every shape & style.

What Can Progressive Lenses Help With?

You don’t have to be diagnosed with a condition to take advantage of the technology in progressive lenses. If your vision is blurry when focusing on different distances , PALs could be what you need.

It comes down to whether you need sight correction for distance, intermediate or near, and what you do. Let’s see:


progressive lenses

When the sun is up, you definitely need a good pair of progressive sunglasses to block UV rays and also take care of your vision.

For Presbyopia

Progressive lenses are most often prescribed for people with presbyopia . Presbyopia usually occurs at around age 40, when people start to lose the ability to focus on close-up objects . It is most noticeable when reading, sewing or working at the computer. You can’t escape presbyopia, even if you’ve never had a vision problem before.

Even people who are nearsighted will notice that their near vision blurs when they wear their usual eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision. This is why progressive lenses are ideal for patients with presbyopia .

why choose progressive lenses for presbyopia

For Myopia Progression

Myopia, commonly referred to as nearsightedness, is a condition where distance vision is blurry. As this study reveals, progressive lenses are also used to reduce the progression of myopia, especially in children.

Why Wear Computer Progressive Lenses?

If you have a desk job that involves a lot of computer work, your doctor may recommend computer progressive lenses. The top part of the lens has the intermediate prescription so when you look straight ahead at your computer, the screen is clear with a wide field of vision. As you look down into the lens, you approach your reading prescription . These lenses will improve your vision when you’re focusing on the intermediate zone, providing more comfort at the computer.

progressive lenses for computer

The Right Frame for Progressive Lenses

Unfortunately, not all frames fit progressive lenses. If the frame is too small, areas of the progressive lens may be removed when your lenses are inserted in the frame. Check with your optician and choose from metal , classic , geek-chic , or colorful frames that meet your needs.

progressive glasses

progressive lenses

progressive glasses

At Vint & York, we carry some of the best frames for progressive lenses that allow you to get all the amazing benefits of this technology, without compromising style or your personality.

At Vint & York, you will surely find something exciting to wear. You may also want to consider getting sunglasses with progressive lenses to further assure your comfort, style, and vision while out and about.

Adjusting to Your New Progressive Lenses

Here are some tips to adjust to your new progressive lenses faster:

  • Patience is necessary when first wearing PALS (progressive addition lenses).
  • When first wearing PALS, avoid using older glasses or single-vision glasses, which can delay the adapting process..
  • Wear them as much as possible. Allow at least two weeks for adapting and bear in mind that any dizziness, nausea, or headaches should be communicated to the dispensing optician. Always allow the dispensing optician an opportunity to troubleshoot your PALS.
  • If there are any difficulties, let your optician know, and don’t drive until you’re fully comfortable with the lenses.

Tips For First-Timers

  1. Wear them as often as possible and avoid wearing other glasses (especially older prescriptions or single-vision).
  2. Try to point your nose at what you’re looking at, whether it’s a book, computer screen or traffic. If you’re working on a computer, adjust the chair height and level of your screen to give you optimal comfort and clear vision.
  3. Become a “head-turner” as opposed to an “eye-mover” when wearing progressive lenses. Don’t look through the sides of the glasses, as peripheral vision can be distorted through PALS.
  4. Lower your eyes, not your head, when reading.

If you are experiencing headaches, dizziness, or nausea, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to give up on PALs. When progressive lenses don’t work, it could just be that measurement is off, whether in the fit or prescription. Solving this issue could be as simple as adjusting the type of PAL that you’re using, raising or lowering the optical centers of the lenses, or picking a different frame .

If you’ve tried progressive lenses before and had trouble with them, many doctors recommend that you try them again a few years later .

Since the technology is always improving, adapting to progressive lenses may be much easier with the latest changes.

If all else fails and you still find that using progressive lenses is not for you, bifocals or trifocals are excellent alternatives that Vint&York can help with.

progressive glasses lenses

Should You Order Progressive Glasses Online?

Since progressive lenses rely on precise measurements for the best results, some online retailers will not provide them.

All fitting details are based on your face shape, size, pupillary distance (distance between your eyes) , frame design, and the interaction between them. So, without taking measurements when wearing the frames, your entire vision could be off.

If you and your eye care professional feel comfortable with it, you can be successful ordering them online.

If you have questions about whether or not a specific frame style can be fitted with progressive lenses, please reach out to us. Our opticians are always available for personalized consultation over the phone – call us at (800) 846-9915 and we’ll be happy to help!

Keep in mind that everyone’s eyes are different. What might work for a friend or relative, might not be the best solution for you. Let your optician or optometrist know how frequently you will be using your glasses, the activity you perform most when wearing your glasses, and voice any concerns.

The days of having to switch eyeglasses for different purposes are gone . The amazing technology of progressive lenses has changed the game and you can now choose from a wide collection of stylish frames to match your progressives!

progressive lenses

Find your perfect frame & lenses option
There’s no better time to stop by Vint & York and shop our incredible selection of progressive lenses or prescription glasses. We offer progressive lenses and prescription sun lenses.
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