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The Importance of Properly Fitting Progressive Lenses

By Essilor News

If you've always been able to see close-up, but have difficulty now (and you're over the age of 40), it’s likely presbyopia.

Properly Fitted Progressive Lenses Can Help

Luckily, presbyopia isn't a condition that has to drastically change your life. The best way to adapt to this new challenge is to make an appointment with your eye doctor, who will most likely prescribe you a pair of progressive addition lenses (PALS).

Progressive lenses, such as Varilux® lenses, offer more advantages than bifocals (which only allow you to see better near and far) by allowing you to see clearly at all distances—near, far, and everything in between. Progressive lenses also eliminate the line in bifocals and make for a more seamless transition from looking in the distance to focusing on objects close-up. Of course, you’ll experience the benefits of progressive lenses most when they are properly adjusted to fit your frames and the way the frames fit your face.

This is most often done by a trained optician. Opticians advise patients on frame and lens selection after they have received their prescription from the optometrist or ophthalmologist.

What Are the Best Frames for Progressive Lenses?

It is important to understand the impact your frame choice has on your lenses. Frame size is an important consideration when it comes to progressive lenses, because certain progressive lenses work better in different sized frames. Since progressive lenses allow you to see at all distances, it is important that the entire range of vision can fit within the frame. Therefore, frames with a very short lens don’t tend to fit progressive lenses as well as frames with a larger lens (at least 28mm tall). Lens shape is important, too. Progressive wearers should avoid aviators and cat-eyes because both can cut off the bottom portion of the prescription, resulting in a loss of reading vision. Instead, they should look for shorter frames with rounded edges such as horn-rimmed, retro wingtip, circular, and oval ones.

How Can You Tell If Your Progressive Lenses Are Fitted Correctly?

About 80% of the problems people have with progressive lenses come from fitting errors. Once your glasses return from the lab, the optician will have you try them on to conduct a final adjustment check and make sure they properly fit. If the prescription is not centered in the lens, it can keep you from being able to see clearly (e.g., when reading a book or walking down stairs). It's crucial that the lenses match up with the wearer's eyes, in particular, their pupils. This is accomplished through two measurements the opticians will take before ordering your new lenses: Pupillary Distance and Fitting Height. Pupillary Distance (PD) is the distance between the pupils. Fitting Height measures from the center of the pupil to the bottom of the lens for each eye.

Your eyecare professional can help you address any fitting issues you may have.
 

Troubleshooting fitting issues
Symptom Solution
Your reading area is narrow.
  • Check your fitting height and PD measurements.
Your peripheral vision blurs and moves.
  • Adjust your frames to decrease the distance between your lenses and eyes.
You have to lift your head or glasses to read.
  • Your lenses fit too low.
  • Adjust the frames to sit higher on your face.
  • Adjust the nose pads to be closer together.
  • If necessary, ask your eyecare professional to refit your lenses.
You lower your head or glasses to read at a distance.
  • Your lenses fit too high.
  • Adjust the frames to sit lower on your face.
  • Widen up the nose pads.
  • If necessary, ask your eyecare professional to refit your lenses.
You move reading material off to the side for better focus.
  • Your PD is off or your lenses are mounted incorrectly.
  • Have your lenses remade with the correct PD measurements.
Your distant vision is slightly blurry.
  • Decrease fitting height.


When the optician places the glasses on your face to fit them, it's necessary that you maintain your natural posture. If you tilt your head at an angle to which you don't normally tilt it, errors in the Fitting Height measurement can occur. Wearing lenses that aren't properly aligned can cause the eyes to adjust to the lenses incorrectly.

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