Article first published: June 2022
Last update: February 2023
Do I really need progressive lenses already? How is getting used to such lenses - won't it make me feel dizzy? For many people, the decision to wear glasses with progressive lenses is something they haven't even thought about yet. At least they still can see just fine. Their glasses with corrective lenses work just fine. So why invest a lot of money in glasses with progressive lenses?
"Do I need progressive lenses already?" – That's a question you can ask yourself quite early on. For example, the early stages of progressive lenses, known as digital lenses, are already becoming relevant starting around the age of 30. Yes, you have read correctly. Eyeglasses with progressive lenses are not just something for people in their mid-40s or older when their vision starts to deteriorate due to age, which is also known as presbyopia. Before that, digital lenses can reduce eye strain experienced by many people who spend a lot of time with digital devices and switch frequently between online and offline.
The reason is that the ocular lens already begins to lose its elasticity starting at age 30. It becomes increasingly difficult for the eyes to adapt to the constant changes in viewing distance – and these days, we switch between looking up close to far away and back again much more than we used to.
The ZEISS Vision Science Lab, which conducts user-oriented basic research aimed at improving vision, has been carrying out intensive research on present viewing behavior for many years. Colleagues in the lab found scientific evidence in a study that smartphones have changed how vision behaves at close ranges. When we glance briefly at our smartphones, we don't move our heads immediately; rather, the eyes move downward, and the head follows only if the gaze is held on the phone for a longer period of time. As this relates to the design of eyeglass lenses, this means that smartphones are viewed primarily through the lower region of the lens. You can read more about this in the article "Taking a Fresh Look at the Smartphone".
In other words, eyeglasses with progressive lenses are definitely modern eyeglasses that offer us the greatest possible visual comfort in the online and offline world and should finally lose their stigma of being “glasses for old people.”
Transcript of the video
Question: What can I do about presbyopia or age-related vision impairment?
Answer: The simple answer to this question is: There is nothing we can do about it. This change affects all of us because it’s an age-related change in the eye. Presbyopia is not an age-related farsightedness but the declining ability of our visual system to focus on object at close distances. To describe it briefly: The eye contains our eye lens. A very flexible element that we can contract to vary degrees when we look at short distances. The eye lens loses this flexibility as we age. And when we don’t have this flexibility anymore, we no longer have the capacity for near accommodation or focusing on short distances. This process affects us all. Unfortunately, there is no known way of stopping this process as of now. So, we have to live with it. It starts at some point in our thirties and then extends into their forties for many. This is when people often notice that their reading distance or the distance, they need to see sharply, becomes larger. Since we can’t stop this process, because it’s simply an ageing process, the question is: What tools do we have to help us live well with it? The simplest solution of the eyeglass lens industry are reading glasses. In other words: A pair of glasses that makes the near range near again. A smarter solution involves progressive lenses where different optical effects are built into the lens allowing for sharp vision at a distance and sharp near vision at the same time.
ZEISS expert Dr. Christian Lappe: What can I do about presbyopia or age-related vision impairment? His conclusion: Be smart and get progressive lenses. (Length: Min 1:46)
Eyeglasses with progressive lenses offer wearers continuously clear vision, from close to far away. The progressive lenses are designed to provide clear vision at the bottom of the lens while also enabling sharp distance vision at the top. The middle section of the progressive lens – known as the intermediate zone – allows for clear vision in the medium distance range.
Some people are skeptical about glasses with progressive lenses because, for many, it takes some time to get used to them. Generally speaking, the difficulties involved in getting used to these new or different glasses decrease after a few days if the user starts wearing eyeglasses with progressive lenses as young as possible and, most importantly, wears them consistently right from the start. Get tips for better wearing comfort of progressive lenses here.
The secret behind good eyeglasses with progressive lenses is having them customized by an experienced eye care professional. Because not all eyeglasses with progressive lenses are the same. When it comes to the lenses, in particular, it’s very important that everything is adjusted correctly – the refraction values, the frames, and the correct fit on the wearer’s face. So, we would definitely recommend against making a quick purchase online – even if you know your prescription or refraction values. Eyeglasses with progressive lenses have to fit correctly, and this depends on a whole range of parameters because eyeglasses are always an interplay between the wearer’s face, the lenses, and the frame. And there’s also the fact that the consumer often isn’t aware of which additional options such as blue light protection or photochromy (self-tinting lenses) might be beneficial in their case.
And there are two other important factors. The eye care professional has access to all the measuring and centering systems that are crucial when it comes to taking precise measurements of the eye. Among other things, it’s possible to precisely measure the human eye down to a hundredth of a diopter, which makes it possible to prescribe wearers eyeglass lenses that make their vision even clearer and richer in contrast. And if you do have any difficulties with getting used to the eyeglasses right away, the in-store optician is right there to support you with their advice and expertise.
At ZEISS, lens design is a key aspect when it comes to progressive lenses. To achieve a smooth transition from the optical power for distance at the top of the lens to close-up at the bottom, progressive lenses exhibit slight deviations in the dioptric effect due to physical and optical factors. These deviations can generally be found in the peripheral areas of the eyeglass lens and are thus outside the central field of vision. However, an eyeglass lens should always be optimized such that the best possible correction is achieved in every section of the lens. What’s more, it should be matched to the corrective values as well as the fit and shape of the frame. See here for an interesting interview about the topic of eyeglass design. The interview also discusses the factors that have to be combined in order to manufacture an optimal eyeglass lens.
ZEISS offers a comprehensive range of progressive lenses in the ZEISS SmartLife line. This range includes all types of eyeglass lenses, from single vision to lenses for using digital devices on an everyday basis, as well as custom progressive lenses.
Among the various eyeglass lenses ZEISS offers, the ZEISS Digital SmartLife lenses represent the first step toward getting started in the progressive lens segment. These lenses are made for comfortable vision and less eye strain for people aged around their thirties and up and who still see clearly at close range but experience first changes.
Thanks to special lenses like these, eyeglass wearers can see peripherally in natural, dynamic interaction, reducing their subjectively perceived eye strain.1
For the younger generation, as mentioned, digital lenses are the right solution to reduce eye strain, especially if they frequently work at close distances. When the eyes then need more support to see clearly at close range, progressive lenses are the first choice. They come in a variety of options, up to custom lenses that are specifically tailored to the user and take into account all the factors relating to viewing habits, the shape of the wearer’s face, and their lifestyle. These factors are anything but mundane because our hobbies and job dictate how we see in everyday life and determine what the lens design has to be capable of as a result. And many people aren’t aware that some eyeglass frames are unsuitable for use with progressive lenses – at least not without a decrease in quality. When it comes to progressive lenses, a larger frame is recommended so that the three vision zones – close, intermediate, and far – can be integrated into the frames effectively.
Finding the right progressive lenses isn’t easy, because so many aspects are involved – the prescription, the shape of the face, individual style, plus specific personal features such as curvature of the lens, or astigmatism. So, if you’re looking for eyeglasses that give you clear vision, you would do well to avoid online offers. There’s no replacement for getting a thorough eye exam from a qualified eye care professional.
- ZEISS Progressive SmartLife Pure:
Offers three technologies. The ZEISS SmartView 2.0 technology provides a clear, dynamic, and thin lens, while the ZEISS Digital Inside technology enables better vision in the digital world by taking into account various reading distances when using digital devices as well as reading books, magazines, and so on. In addition, the ZEISS Luminance Design 2.0 technology takes average light conditions and age-related pupil diameters into account. These three technologies form the basis for all progressive lenses from ZEISS. “Pure” is thus the first choice for all eyeglass wearers who are primarily looking for a solution that meets their vision requirements in the digital world.
- ZEISS Progressive SmartLife Plus:
Offers custom adjusted eyeglass frames – regardless of the shape or size. Thanks to ZEISS FrameFit+ and ZEISS Adaptation Control technology, the progressive lens can be calculated according to the respective frame in order to accommodate the user’s habitual eye movements. This prevents difficulties involved in getting used to eyeglasses or irritation when switching to new eyeglasses or between different pairs.
- ZEISS Progressive SmartLife Superb:
ZEISS takes it another step further with ZEISS FaceFit technology by adapting the progressive lens to the anatomy of the individual user’s face. How does the frame fit in relation to the eyes, ears and nose? This technology calculates the interplay between the anatomical parameters and the optical system consisting of the eye, lens, and frame – resulting in better optical performance and therefore wider fields of clear view.
- ZEISS Progressive SmartLife Individual 3:
ZEISS IndividualFit technology and ZEISS Intelligence Aigmented Design (IAD) technology ensure a perfect match between the design of the progressive lens and the lifestyle of the spectacle wearer. The lenses are optimized for all distances, but also tailored to the preferred, primarily used viewing distance of the spectacle wearer. ZEISS IAD technology uses smart data science to further optimize the lens design to the wearer’s personal visual behavior and requirements.
It’s just as difficult to put a price on progressive lenses as it is to answer the question, “How much does a car cost?” But one thing’s for certain: Premium quality comes at a price. A range of careful measurements, a precise calculation, and accurate lens fabrication as well as the best possible adjustment of the eyeglasses are indispensable when it comes to offering absolutely optimal visual comfort and reducing the time it takes to get used to the glasses. However, the price depends not only on the degree to which the progressive lenses are customized, but also on the selected finishing or additional features like polarization or self-tinting.
1. 63% perceived less eye strain at the end of the day compared to their previous lenses. Source: External consumer acceptance test on the ZEISS SmartLife lens portfolio, n=52 study participants (percentage of participants who ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’). Aston Optometry School, Aston University, UK, 2019.