eye_21Ok, you have just gotten your new bifocals and you are wondering how you are ever going to get used to wearing them. Hopefully these tips will make the transition into multi-focals easier and quicker for you.

If you don’t normally wear glasses for distance viewing, the most important thing you can do to become comfortable wearing your lenses, is to take a week and wear your glasses full time. Even where you may not have the need to wear them, leaving them on will allow you to adapt much quicker. People who wear their glasses for an hour or two at a time expecting to gradually get used to them, are often still trying to adjust two or three years later. Once you are adapted to your lenses, wearing them part time is no problem. One exception to this is: you should not drive in your progressives until you feel comfortable in them. Usually after a day or two, this is no problem. Use common sense and be safe in your glasses, but wearing them more will get you adjusted sooner.

When people don’t need a bifocal to read, they generally turn their head slightly down so they are looking directly at their reading material. When you are using a bifocal, if you turn your head down you move your bifocal down. Remember to keep your head still, and lower your eyes. This often feels strange at first. It feels like you are holding your head back. But if you watch people do this, they don’t hold their head back, they fight the tendency to drop their head down.

The next adjustment to make is looking through the correct part of the lens for your reading distance. Since progressives have no lines and there is a gradual change in power, sometimes it is difficult at first to find the right area to look through. Many people return after a day or two with their new lenses and report; “I can’t tell where I should be looking through these lenses,” “I move my head all around trying to find the right spot.” When you first get your lenses, hold your head still, drop your eyes, and pick out one word. Watch that word as you slowly move your reading material, up, down, and side to side. You can easily tell when you are too high, too low, or too far to the side. Remember, move the reading material at first, not your head. It won’t be long before your eyes automatically go to the right spot.

Another concern with new wearers is the distortion that is produced in the lower, outer portions of their glasses. In order to keep the optics clear and changing down through the center of your lenses, the lenses will produce distortion down and out to the sides. If you try to look through this part of your glasses, things will appear wavy and distorted. This is an area you don’t normally use in your glasses. If you are going to look at something down and out to the side, you don’t hold your head still and turn your eyes, you automatically turn your head. When you do this then you are looking through the central area of your lenses. You will notice the distortion in your periphery at first when you move your head side to side, but after a short time you will not be aware of it. It does not limit your peripheral vision.

The other common concern a lot of patients report is difficulty going up and down stairs in their bifocals. Remember the reading area of your glasses is made to be in focus at about an 18″ distance. If you look through the bifocal portion at the floor, the floor is out of focus. What happens is when a person who is wearing bifocals for the first time, gets ready to go up a set of stairs, they think: “Oh, I have my bifocals on.” They then look down through the bifocal area at their feet, and they try to go up or down the stairs watching their out of focus feet. Normally as you go up and down stairs you don’t watch your feet and you don’t want to do that with your bifocals on either. If you need to look down at something with your bifocals on, you simply turn your head down more than you usually would so you look over top of the bifocal area.

It is likely that you would make all these adjustments automatically after awhile. However, if you think about them at first, it will make your successful adaptation into wearing progressive lenses, much quicker and more comfortable.

2 thoughts on “Adapting to Your Progressive Lenses

  • July 31, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    Thank you for the information. I am trying progressive glasses for the first time, and cannot find them tolerable thus far.

    “If you are going to look at something down and out to the side, you don’t hold your head still and turn your eyes, you automatically turn your head. ”

    This is not true in my case. I do hold my head steady in such a situation and simply move my eyes, especially when working at a large computer screen. It’s faster and more efficient to simply move the eyes than the head. With progressives, I have to keep swiveling my head up, down, side to side, until I feel like a bobble-head toy.

    I will most likely return the progressives for a standard single-focus pair of lenses.

  • October 19, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    I have not used reading glasses very much before getting progressive lenses. I have only used single vision glasses for driving. I am trying to get used to my progressives, but they make me nausious. Do you have any suggestions for relieving my nausea while getting used to my new glasses?


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