Wearing Progressive Bifocals for the First Time

Need one prescription to see long distance and a different one to see objects at close range? The answer is simple: get a bifocal lens. But bifocals are not without inherent issues. Foremost among them is the “image jump” that results when your eye crosses the line in a bifocal that separates the distance portion from the magnifying area. This abrupt change in lens power is jarring to many and can cause nausea in some.

Getting Used to Progressive Bifocals

Well, there’s an answer to that, too. Progressive bifocals forego the use of a line and transition smoothly between lens powers, allowing your eye to adjust to gradual changes in prescription strength with no abrupt change. This solves the image jump issue.

Progressive bifocals are a wonderful tool. But if you’ve never used them before, be aware that they require an adjustment period. Because of the changes in prescription level that occur towards the edges of the lenses, your peripheral vision will be slightly altered. Leaving your new glasses on – even if can see without them – will go a long way towards achieving this adjustment. If you constantly remove your new lenses, your eyes never get the extended “practice” they need to adjust.

Here are a few tips to adjusting to your no-line progressive bifocals:

  • Have your glasses adjusted by a professional so that they seat properly in front of your eyes.
  • Sit down during your initial break-in period.
  • Consider starting the process after a night’s sleep, when your eyes are rested.
  • Avoid stairs if possible as you may have trouble estimating depth until adjust to the new lenses. Or remove the glasses when navigating stairs until you are used to them.
  • Do not drive or operate potentially dangerous machinery until you are fully adjusted to the progressives.
  • Remember to point your nose where you want to look.
  • If you have trouble acclimating to the “reading zone,” reorient yourself by looking straight ahead and then down.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to make the adjustment, and don’t expect minor, incremental improvements. Many users report disorientation for several days followed by almost instantaneous adjustment.

Follow these steps to minimize discomfort and maximize your chances at a successful adjustment to progressive lenses. Just be aware that about 5% of the population never adjusts to them at all. If you’ve waited ten days and are still uncomfortable, return for a professional reevaluation.

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