Please help me understand, and perhaps learn to tolerate, my new progressive lenses.
October 6, 2011 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Please help me understand my new progressive lenses.

I just got new glasses with progressive lenses. I tried progressives about ten years ago and didn't like them, but the glasses man told me this was more advanced technology, so I sprang for them. He showed me information from the lens company that showed very little distortion around the edges -- which was my problem the first time.

However, I'm having a lot of trouble getting used to them. If I'm looking directly into the glasses, but a little to the side, my vision is fuzzy. I have to hit just the exact right middle spot to see completely clearly.

Also I feel that the reading part isn't expansive enough -- that is, I feel that there is just a little strip at the bottom where I can read clearly. And I'm not seeing that there is a middle distance area, although there really has to be.

My main problem with this is interpersonal. I feel that the optician, although nice, was kind of pressuring and I have that "afraid" feeling about taking them back, and that he won't do anything about it. After all, the glasses are made. I doubt he would offer to remake them. There was something about our interaction that made me feel I was being "picky" in my trying on a lot of frames, although I really don't think I did try on that many. Also, I asked a lot of questions and was somewhat "negative" about trying progressives again, making him "work" to get me to buy them. (I've had this feeling before in other contexts -- that I"m kind of "eccentric" and "intense" and "worry too much" whereas other, "normal" people would be more calm about their purchase interactions, whether they actually, ultimately buy the items, or not.)

This is a very expensive purchase, as you can imagine, and I'm not happy. Should I be giving them more time to get used to them before I go back to the place? (I guess that last sentence was the actual heart of my question). I got them in New York City at a place called Moscot on the Lower East Side where I"ve gotten all my glasses for about 20 years and which prides itself on its excellent family-run service.

Thank you.
posted by DMelanogaster to Shopping (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I am unhappy with my progressive lenses and my optometrist also; he seems to poo-poo all my complaints about how much I hate my glasses. This has a lot to do with my crappy deteriorating middle aged eyeballs; once I hit the point of needing bi-focals, my eyesight has been changing so fast that 3 months after I get my new prescription I feel like things start getting blurry again. HOWEVER, there is one thing that I dragged out of him after a few years of complaints. With progressives it matters very much where they are in relation to your eyeballs. Adjustment of the nosepiece and fine-tuning of the parts that go over the ears can make your glasses like new again. My glasses didn't feel like they were loose or sliding down my nose, but they were just a teeny bit farther down my nose than they had been, and some tiny adjustments made it vastly better. So I would try getting adjustments first. Also, I know what you mean about the reading area being not big enough - I DETEST looking down my nose to read or look at the computer. It makes my eyeballs ache. But apparently there is no help for it, except for getting a separate pair of reading glasses (which I have recently done - even more expense, obviously).
posted by molasses at 3:23 PM on October 6, 2011

How long have you been using them? I use progressive lenses myself, and find them quite helpful. But it took me at least two or three weeks to find them natural.

If, like molasses you think you'd be sort of unhappy even once you figure them out, then by all means, get another pair. Your optometrist shouldn't give you a problem about that. But seriously, give it some time.
posted by valkyryn at 3:47 PM on October 6, 2011

It took me 2-3 weeks to adjust to my most recent glasses, even though they were the same prescription as some sunglasses I already had. It seems like less drastic changes are harder to adjust to, so give it a 2 or 3 weeks.

If things still aren't better, have them remake the lenses. My mom usually goes through two rounds of lenses every time she gets new glasses or contacts - some people are harder to fit than others.
posted by asphericalcow at 3:52 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is very helpful, molasses! My glasses definitely slip a bit down my nose (another problem is that I bought frames that I realized after I got the glasses back are too thick for my nose. Another product of feeling awkward while deciding. Thank god I think they look good though.)
posted by DMelanogaster at 3:53 PM on October 6, 2011

oh I didn't mean to single out molasses. That was the only response when I looked.
Thank you all.
posted by DMelanogaster at 3:54 PM on October 6, 2011

Seconding the observation that it can take a few weeks to get used to progressive lenses. I had a pair of lab safety glasses which absolutely drove me nuts for about 3 weeks, then the problem just sorta disappeared ... poof. I'm not sure what changed - maybe I unconsciously learned to hold/move my head differently, or figured out where the glasses had to sit on my nose, to keep the "sweet spot" aligned better.

Since they were safety glasses I didn't wear them all the time, only while working at the bench, so with constant wearing you might adapt more quickly. Give it a few weeks before you go back to the optometrist.
posted by Quietgal at 4:15 PM on October 6, 2011

It probably took me two-three weeks to get used to mine; it sounds like the horizontal division between the upper distance and lower close-up strenghts (even though you don't see it!) might be a little low on yours. Oh, and that fuzzy spot on the lower outside corner? Totally normal: it's got to do with how glasses are ground, and the angles between the upper and lower prescriptions.

(Personally I'm dreading the possibility that, like my oldest sibling, TRIfocals might be in my future!)
posted by easily confused at 5:02 PM on October 6, 2011

Don't worry about going back to them to get things made right. I too concur that getting the adjustment PERFECT is necessary for the glasses to even begin to feel right. Despite the grousing you might hear from them, the markup on eyeglass lenses and frames is HUGE. (An optometrist that I know once broke the rules and ordered some fashionable sunglass frames and some zero correction lenses, put them together, and sold them on ebay. Even with the steep discount ebay pricing demands, he made out like a bandit.) And the optometrist may be able to get some kind of credit back from his supplier to ease the burden on them even more.

In other words, get what you paid for. Besides that, even if you do get used to what you've got as they are, there can be subtle eye and neck strain that can crop up. Like the old grandpa move of tilting your head back in order to be able to read.

Despite the sales pitch, progressives are a trade off. You have to put up with the weird distortions in exchange for not having the obvious bifocals spot and lines.
posted by gjc at 5:26 PM on October 6, 2011

Just chiming in to say it also took me two to three weeks before I really got used to my progressives. At first the lack of focus at the outer corners of the lenses was fairly bothersome, but after a bit I stopped noticing it. (I just spent a few seconds trying to peer out of the corner of the lenses to see how bad the fuzziness is, and I'm having trouble finding it. Guess I've adapted even more than I realized.)
posted by Lexica at 5:58 PM on October 6, 2011

Ditto ... it took me a while to get used to progressives. Here are a couple of things that helped me with the adjustment.

Although "they say" you should stay with the progressives and not switch back and forth with your single vision lenses, I found that using my old singles late in the day/evening when my eyes were tired was just easier at first, and I don't think it really slowed down my adjustment.

Similarly, I used the reading glasses that I already had for focused reading time, and I bought a cheap pair of glasses with single vision for computer use -- my eye doc was happy to isolate that part of the prescription for me at a second no-extra-charge visit.

Should I be giving them more time to get used to them before I go back to the place?

I would suggest going back with your concerns sooner rather than later. Ask for help making the adjustment to the progressives. Maybe ask for a recheck of the fit/adjustment of the frames.
posted by jaruwaan at 6:13 PM on October 6, 2011

Getting used to progressive lenses took a couple of weeks for me. Strangely enough, my opthamologist decided that, after having progressive lenses for a year, he really wanted me to try blended bifocals. I absolutely hated them.

I do like the progressive lenses, though I use plain reading glasses for using my computer; this is mainly because I now need bifocal lenses in both eyes instead of just one and haven't gotten the new lenses yet.
posted by cp311 at 7:04 PM on October 6, 2011

Definitely take them back if you're not happy. Much of the reason progressives are so expensive is that the cost of remakes is built-in.

As mentioned already, good fit is very important in progressive lenses. But there are also a LOT of different brands available, with different strengths. The best article I can find online is here (the interesting part begins "The top five designs that showed"); it discusses best lenses for various needs. There's also some information that you might find helpful here.

You might not have much middle distance. It depends on the brand. Some don't, but they tend to have better reading and distance.

I'd give them a little time, but I personally think a week is plenty. And really, any conscientious optician should be very willing to take back lenses you're not happy with, and keep working with you until you find some that you are.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 7:29 PM on October 6, 2011 [5 favorites]

I am going to nth the advice to make sure the fit is adjusted to your needs. Have them tighten them up and then be sure to test them out by trying distance viewing, looking at a computer, and also reading something while you are at the optical place to make sure things are as clear as they can be.

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I first got progressives is that you need to change the way you see/use your eyes. We all are used to moving our eyes to see, but with progressives, you need to move your head to see clearly. So, when you want to read, you need to remember that instead of dropping your eyes, you need to actually also lower your head a bit till you can focus your eyes through the center of the lower/reading section of the glasses. If you want to see at a distance toward the left, you don't move your eyes left but instead move your head to the left. This head moving is why it is so important to have your glasses adjusted to fit on your face at the optimum spot to focus clearly at all distances and without having your head/neck in an odd or uncomfortable position.
posted by gudrun at 8:29 PM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

nthing that this will take a few weeks to get used to. I got my first pair or progressives this year, and it made me change the way I held my head, change where on my nose I rested the glasses, and how I looked through them. It gets easier after time, but there is a significant learning curve.
posted by Gilbert at 9:49 PM on October 6, 2011

If you tried them ten years ago and didn't like them, and you don't like them now, maybe you will never like progressive lenses. I am with everyone else here who says you should go back and try to get them adjusted, but just be aware that you may never like them.
posted by twblalock at 10:33 PM on October 6, 2011

I never got used to mine. I mostly use reading glasses instead.
posted by futz at 7:54 AM on October 7, 2011

When I first got my progressive lenses I felt nauseous all of the time and considered returning them. Then I spoke with my neighbor, who I learned is an optometrist, and she told me no matter what to wear them practically every waking moment for two weeks before deciding. She was right and now I think they're the greatest thing since pants with pockets.
posted by Breav at 1:23 PM on October 7, 2011

Well, I went back just now. Luckily, a different optician was there - a very nice young woman. She took a lot of time with me, made dots on the lenses and compared them to whatever she was supposed to compare them to, and taught me a lot about them. She also sat with me and had me read at various distances and really checked it all out.
There is some question if perhaps the left lens is not the right prescription for me. She tried to contact my opthalmologist, but she wasn't there, and the optician said she's going to try her next week, just to make sure the prescription is the same one they have there at Moscot.

What really reassured me was that she told me that these lenses are a compromise, and that I couldn't really expect perfect vision from all angles for all purposes. She explained the tradeoffs between getting the distance vision and the reading vision in one lens, but paying for that by having that distortion on the sides. She said that I should wear them a lot outside and that I will probably adapt to them -- as many of you have said. But she also said that there's nothing unusual about having a dedicated pair of reading glasses and a dedicated pair of computer glasses -- which I have -- at home.

It's all so psychological that when I left her office I was already seeing better -- the side problem didn't bother me nearly as much.

I did make a mistake in the frames, though. The nose piece is too thick and they keep falling down a tiny bit, which changes the precarious balance between the near and the far vision parts of the lenses. This is entirely my fault. In fact I used to have sunglasses that were thick like that and I told myself to remember to buy only narrow-nosepieces from now on.

But something overtook me when I ordered these glasses. A force, perhaps, that penetrated some aspect of my very being, that punctured any defenses I had built up over a near-lifetime of self-preservation, that allowed a new and frightening dynamic to enter my unconscious, pushing me, urging me, in a near-stage whisper, to "BUY THE THICK PURPLE FRAMES AND GET PROGRESSIVE LENSES." So I had to.

Thank you.
posted by DMelanogaster at 2:57 PM on October 7, 2011

Glad to hear things are (if you'll pardon the pun) looking better! I'm sorry your thick frames are giving you trouble --- the purple sounds cute! --- but one other thing to keep in mind with bifocals, whether progressive or old-fashioned lined, is the size of the lens..... unfortunately, a lot of the currently-stylish tiny oval lenses just aren't tall enough, from top to bottom.

Like a lot of folks, I keep two pair: but while one is the progressives that I'm usually wearing, my second's sunglasses with just the long-distance prescription (my distance vision is WAY worse than my near vision!) that I really only use while driving.
posted by easily confused at 5:27 PM on October 7, 2011

Although your question has basically been answered, I want to respond because I asked my dad about it, (he manufactures lenses), and he responded like many others that if you've never worn progressives before you do need to give your eyes about two weeks to adjust.
posted by lrrosa at 12:13 AM on October 8, 2011

Follow-up: the optician called my opthalmologist to check on the prescription, and they got it WRONG in the left eye!!! (they used my old prescription) They are re-making the lenses and I should get them soon!
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:07 PM on October 19, 2011

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