If you are in your 40s or older, and find it harder to read small print when using your prescription glasses, you may have presbyopia. This is a condition that every middle-aged person eventually gets. It simply means your eyes aren’t as youthful as they used to be and can’t reshape their lenses enough to bring close-up things into sharp focus. This is caused by the eye’s lens becoming less flexible, which limits its ability to change focus. Fixing this problem will require another lens to help you with close-up vision in addition to your current corrective lens.
There are three methods of doing this. One method is buying multiple pairs of prescription glasses, each with single vision lenses for specific distances (close-up, far distance, and possibly middle distance). The second method is getting bifocals, and the third is getting progressive lenses.
All of these methods have their pros and cons. Deciding which is best for you will depend on your particular situation, preferences, and needs. Nike prescription glasses are available with single vision, bifocal, and progressive lenses.
If your presbyopia isn’t advanced, that is, if you only have problems reading print up close, bifocals should work fine. Choosing a bifocal with a small close-up vision lens leaves lots of room for viewing the far and middle distances. It’s like your single vision lens except that it has a small “window” near the bottom that’s just for reading. Adapting to this type of bifocal takes minimal effort.
For activities requiring mostly middle and far distance vision such as most athletics and driving, a bifocal with a small reading section works well. Because most of the lens is dedicated to the far/intermediate distances, you have an excellent field of vision. Many close-up vision tasks, such as reading a map, book, or mobile device, don’t require a large field of vision.
One possible drawback is a less than youthful appearance. Bifocals are generally associated with aging people, and if you don’t like that kind of “look,” then you should opt for progressive lenses instead. Progressives have no visible lines or boundaries between the different visual fields.
On the other hand, if your presbyopia is more advanced, it will affect both your close-up and middle distance vision. Bifocals won’t help you with the middle distances. At this point, the advantages of bifocals over progressive lenses are less clear-cut.
Progressive lenses have three fields of vision. They’re arranged vertically from bottom to top as close-up vision, intermediate vision, and distance vision. These three fields blend together seamlessly. That is, all distances between the three fields are covered as well. This makes your visual perception of distances more natural than the sudden visual field “jumps” of bifocal and trifocal lenses. The field transitions of progressive lenses are also line-free, which means that no one will know of your presbyopia. To other people, you look as if you’re using a regular set of single vision lenses.
When seated at a desk, the visual field arrangement of progressive lenses is perfect. When reading something on your desk, you naturally look down with your eyes to where the close-up field of the lenses is conveniently located. When looking further up, you see your computer screen that’s at an intermediate distance away. At this point, your eyes are looking through the intermediate field of the lenses. Raising your eyes still further brings the distant objects in your room into view, and your eyes are looking through the far-field of your lenses.
Problems arise when you’re standing and looking down at your feet. They will appear blurred if you’re looking through the close-up field of your lenses. You will have to tilt your head further down to see your feet through the intermediate field. This may feel unnatural to some people when walking down stairs or when walking over slippery snow and ice.
Most people quickly adapt to this. However, your risk of falling increases when you’re feeling rushed or distracted while going down a staircase or walking through an area with trip hazards. Progressive lenses may not be the best choice for the elderly or those with balance problems.
Progressive lenses don’t make full use of the entire lens surface. There are two areas, one on either side of the close-up/intermediate fields that appear blurred. When looking through either the close-up or intermediate fields, if you look to the far left or far right with your eyes, things will appear blurry. This limits clear vision in the close-up and intermediate fields to a narrow corridor. However, improving lens technology is expanding this corridor width.
You can compensate for this narrow viewing corridor by moving your head to the left and right more when viewing things that are close up or at an intermediate distance away. After a week or two, correct usage of your progressive lenses will become automatic.
Using a separate pair of single vision prescription glasses for close-up, intermediate, and distance vision is a viable option for those with balance problems or who dislike or can’t adjust to either bifocals or progressive lenses. When outdoors, the far distance prescription glasses are mostly used except when reading signs or looking at your feet, which will require the intermediate prescription glasses. The indoor environment will likely require all three.
In conclusion, if you only have a light touch of presbyopia, a pair of bifocals with a small close-up vision field for reading works well if you don’t mind the bifocal look. Alternatively, you can opt for two pairs of single vision prescription glasses: your regular pair and a reading pair of glasses. For advanced presbyopia or if you don’t like the bifocal look, progressive lenses are a good option if you don’t have balance problems. If progressive lenses aren’t your cup of tea, you have the bifocal or separate single vision lens options. Those with balance problems should avoid bifocals, trifocals, and progressive lenses.
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