Glasses, Bifocals vs Progressives

Last year, I got presbyopia, a very common age-related reduction in vision. Now, instead of just being nearsighted with moderate astigmatism, I am essentially both nearsighted and farsighted. I need to wear glasses to see things close, and different glasses to see far.

I tried getting progressive glasses but, ARGH! it was impossible to get used to them! I asked several friends about it. Some said they love them, some hate them!

Here is a snippet of a post I made on Facebook while trying to get used to them:

Ugh, I’m having a hard time getting used to them! I’ll wear them for 20 minutes and rip them off in frustration. The close-up “in-focus” area is so freaking small! It’s like 1/3 of the width of any 8.5″x11″ paper I’m reading. I can’t wiggle my nose back and forth fast enough to read at a reasonable rate! And I can’t see well outside that area!
Walking around with them makes me dizzy. I’m not sure if this is going to work out. And looking at a computer screen is weird and frustrating, tilting my head up and down, left and right to try to catch everything. And stuff wiggles and shifts under my gaze in a slightly disorienting way. Not luvin ’em. I might call the place I got them from and ask for some help.

There a few different lens systems you can get. “Occupational lenses” from different companies have different fields of view. One friend told me about her progressives, saying, “Pretty much everything in a 1ft-3ft range (laptop, phone, or book range) is clear when seen through the bottom half of my glasses.” That is way different experience from mine!

Some possible fixes (though none worked for me)

  • have the optometrist make the glasses closer to your eyes – helped me a little
  • get occupational lens progressives – I didn’t try yet, there doesn’t seem to be any standard around what brands of lenses have larger fields of view.
  • wear them for a few days to get used to them – yeah, I tried. It was insane-making


How I solved my presbyopia problem:

I got an eye exam and a prescription for regular distance vision and an “add” for reading and such.

I got some clip-on readers that served me well during the pandemic when I didn’t want to go out. They are convenient in that I can flip them up and down for a full view of distance or near vision. I rarely wear them anymore though because they look at bit wacky and they’re a bit heavy on my head.

I got a pair of bifocals from my local optician. They work much better. It still take a bit of mental work to wear them but I often wear them for a few hours during my work day. I usually wear single vision readers when doing closeup work like sitting at my computer. I bought 2 pair from, one to leave at work, one at home. For general use I mainly wear my single vision distance glasses.


One Comment

  1. Luke says:

    I recently had to start using reading glasses. They suggested progressive lenses for me, but I declined, just got simple +1.00 glasses off amazon. I apparently only need them when literally reading or using my phone (anything close up). Surprised I managed to make it as long as I have without having to get glasses. I think I would be really frustrated with progressives

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