There are quite literally several hundred progressive lens designs available on the market. Yes, you read that right. Looking at the Progressive Identifier book from 2015 (the most recent published), there are 348 designs. I know that there have been at least 60 lens designs launched since then. So, this means that there are approximately 400 different ways we can address the needs of a Presbyope (see definition in this previous article).
In this selection of lenses, there are designs which were developed close to 40 years ago, and ones that were officially launched last month. Newer isn’t always better, but the oldest are almost always worse.
The speed with which new lenses are developing can be daunting to keep up with, even for the most seasoned of opticians. Every manufacturer likes to claim that their latest is the greatest for every patient we have. This is invariable not true. Sometimes the latest can be the greatest…but usually for a specific lifestyle or prescription type.
In order to better serve my patients, I began wearing progressive lenses much younger than the typical person. I put on my first pair at age 36, with the weakest reading addition possible. Since that time, I have worn 53 lens designs, continually testing both new and old technologies, different design concepts, and products from different manufacturers. In addition to all this personal testing, I also had coworkers evaluate the same lenses. Because each lens design doesn’t necessarily perform the same way for each prescription type, my colleagues who wore a different type of correction were used to get a more complete sample set.
Through this rigorous testing that I’ve done over the past 8 years I have developed a working knowledge of not only how different lens designs feel to wear, but also how to adjust the fit on a patient to get the most out of each lens design.
I will be the first to tell you, (as you can see from everything I’ve written above), I have not tested EVERY design available, but I’ve dipped into enough designs I feel I can give you a fairly well informed opinion on some of the lens designs which are best suited for different budgets, and different prescription types.
The following recommendations are based on my own personal experience, and that of colleagues. Admittedly, there are certain brands I know better than others, and there are variables associated with lifestyle which are not entirely addressed here.
For those nearsighted in the distance (minus power), I have found that the following lenses work quite well:
- Varilux Physio DRX
- Zeiss Drivesafe (great for those who need larger intermediate-i.e. teachers, heavy computer users)
- Shamir Autograph II
- Kodak Unique (budget)
- VisionSource TruClear
For the farsighted patient (plus power), I have found the following lenses are a better choice:
- Varilux Physio W3+
- Shamir Autograph II
- VisionSource TruClear
- Shoreview (budget)
- Zeiss Drivesafe (again, great for those who need a larger intermediate zone)
- Varilux Comfort (budget)
I actually have very little experience with Hoya branded lenses, so I am unable to recommend specific designs from their line of products. Also, some lenses which have worked quite well for some patients, but seem less consistent in what they provide to each patient would be:
- Varilux S Design (Fit)
- Varilux Physio Enhanced (one advantage is a design specific to Asian fit)
- Younger Image
- Sola MAX (budget)
While writing this, I helped a patient who had a bad experience with the progressives she purchased two years ago. She never came in to discuss any problems she was having with them. She just assumed that was how they worked. Please realize that if you have any difficulty with your lenses after you pick them up, subtle changes to adjustment can have an amazing change in your experience. If you have any struggles with your new lens, whether it was something I recommended or not, follow up with your optician. They can often fix problems with reading or mid-range zone size/location with very simple adjustments to how the frame fits on your face. If the problem cannot be resolved through this process, they should have access to a Progressive Non-Adapt redo through the lab they used to fix any problems you’re experiencing.
Please be aware that these non-adapt redos can only be completed within a brief period (1-3 months) after you pick up your glasses. If you experience any problems, don’t delay seeing your optician to resolve them!
Any troubles you may have had in the past with progressive lenses, are not indicative of your ability to wear progressives in general. Any bad experienced is more likely a sign that you were fit in a bad design for your prescription or lifestyle. Talk to your optician about your experience and they will be able to help you find the right lens for your needs.