For all that money, are they really any better?
With over 800 designs of progressive lenses out on the market to choose from, it comes as no surprise consumers are bit confused. The market has been flooded with lenses all promising to do the same thing…. allow the patient to see near, intermediate, and distance vision without a line. So then, the question becomes why are some optical stores offering two pair of no line bifocals for $99 and others charging upwards of $200 for one pair?
First, it comes down to lens design. Essilor first launched it’s best selling lens Varilux Comfort in 1993. This lens has since become a staple in our industry upon which every other lens manufacturer compares itself. Of progressive lenses from this era of technology Varilux Comfort has the highest rate of success. This means patients adaptability and comfort of use, as natural as possible pre presbyopia (when your arms became too short) is the highest in this brand. This is due to the patented lens design. Wearers with this leans experience much less peripheral blur, and have a wider field of vision. Still however, this is an hourglass shaped design without full side to side peripheral use. Some lenses in this conventional lens design have a channel half the width of the Varilux Comfort lens. Can you imagine looking through a lens in which 10 millimeters of vision is clear and then everything mildly blurs from there? Try looking at a 30′ computer screen like that…
As the new millennium approached, progressive lenses moved into a digital era. Now lenses were being described as high definition or precision lenses. Some digital lenses had a dual add, meaning part of the reading portion of the lens was ground into the back side of the lens. By doing this, vertex distance (the amount of space between the eye and the lens) was decreased and a sharper image was projected. Wearers now saw like never before, the difference was equivalent to comparing a tube TV to a flat screen HDTV. The issue arises, however, when a conventional lens with a narrow channel was made with this new digital process; the result is a digital lens with poor optics. If the design is poor in a conventional design, then using that same design with digital surfacing just creates another poorly functioning lens. The key is to decipher which lenses have the best design for your specific needs based on your prescription and lifestyle.
This year, Essilor released their newest lens in the Varilux family, the Varilux S 4D. This lens is remarkable, digitally surfaced with nano optix, this lens is fully customizable. It offers a true edge to edge clarity, meaning patients have full use of the lens without peripheral blur. Using a piece of equipment called the Visioffice, patients are fitted precisely, incorporating physiology, vertex distance, and dominant eye. Even pupillary distance is taken differently than in previous years, as this equipment takes into consideration the distance between the patients pupils not in relation to space, but directly in correlation with each different frame the patient wears. Now wearers that use to have difficulty in an active lifestyle or even walking down steps with progressive lenses have a lens that is made for stability in motion. At all ranges and during movement a patient can expect sharp, precise, clear optics without feeling a swim effect, or experiencing blurred vision in the periphery.
The bottom line…. not all progressive lenses are made equally. When shopping around for progressive lenses, be brand specific and ask questions on what you can expect with that particular lens. Make sure you are offered some type of patient satisfaction warranty. Vision is responsible for 80 % of the brains activity, make sure you are functioning at your best. Remember, it’s not what you spend that makes a great deal, it’s what you get for your money.
For more information on our choice progressive lenses, visit the Varilux website.