Suffering from ‘short arm syndrome’?
A common eye condition as we age
If you’re over 40, you’re probably starting to suffer from ‘short arm syndrome’, the need to hold a phone or the list of ingredients on the back of that packet of chips at arm’s length to see it. This almost inevitable development for most of us is also known as presbyopia, which endearingly comes from the Greek meaning ‘trying to see as old men do’.
But don’t panic. This eyesight change does not mean you’ll be reduced to wearing ugly bifocals or trifocals like the previous generation did. Nor will you have to lug around more than one pair of glasses with you; you won’t need to swap between your reading glasses, glasses for driving and glasses for seeing a computer screen clearly.
Thanks to technology, we have more choices today than ever, and that also applies to our vision and choice of spectacles.
And then they made progressive lenses
You can now have no-line bifocal reading glasses. Progressive lenses are multifocal eyeglass lenses that look exactly the same as single vision, regular glasses. They have a gradual curvature across the lens surface and provide clearer vision at near and far distances, as well as smooth, comfortable progression in between.
Gone are those annoying, and tell-tale, age defining bifocal lines in your glasses.
Progressive or multifocal lenses have 3 prescriptions in 1 pair of glasses, so you can do close-up work, like reading a text, middle-distance work, like computer work, or distance viewing, such as driving, without changing your glasses.
For most people, progressive lenses are a great option.
What are progressive lenses?
Instead of having just two different viewing zones (near and distant), as you would with bifocals, progressive lenses have progressive powers of correction going from bottom to top. You get a smooth transition from distance vision through intermediate vision to near vision, with all the in-between corrections. The distance prescription is at the top and gradually increases in power to your full reading prescription as you move down the lens, providing the correct lens power to see clearly at virtually any distance.
Vision with progressives can seem natural, you don’t get a jump like you would with bifocals or trifocals when you move from viewing something close up to something far away. So if you’re driving, you can look at your speedo, at the road, or at a sign in the distance with a smooth, seamless transition.
Benefits of progressive lenses
Progressive lenses ease eye strain and provide natural vision correction; they will help you see clearly at all distances. Progressive lenses are custom-made for your specific needs, right down to the frame, prescription, and even your lifestyle.
Progressive lenses fit for purpose
At John O’Connor we stock HOYA progressive lenses. Hoya has taken a research-oriented approach to progressive lens development revolutionising progressive lens design technology. Their progressive lenses have wider visual fields and can be tailored to your lifestyle. Hoya Vision’s most advanced premium progressive lens, the Individualized Dual Surface Progressive lens, lets you experience an unprecedented level of individualisation and clear, stable vision, every time and everywhere.
Once our optometrists have your prescription sorted out, they then work with you to look at your lifestyle, for example how often you read from a smart phone, or drive at night, or play sport so your lenses can be customised for you. They will help you pick a good frame, because not every progressive lens design fits every frame. They will also make sure the lenses are perfectly centred over your eyes and they look at the way you actually wear your glasses: your precise fitting preferences. For example, if the lens we design for you assumes a distance of 14mm but you wear your glasses at 10mm then there will be a difference between the prescribed lenses and what you see; your prescription may not ending up being right.
The way our optometrists fit your progressive lens is crucial. Basic lens designs make a set of assumptions about how the frame fits your face. All fitting details are based on your face shape, size, frame design – the tilt and wrap of the frame – and the interaction between them. Our optometrists will take measurements of the distance between the frame and the eye, as well as the curvature of the frame and angle of the tilt while on your face.
They will measure the height of the area on the lens to which the progressive adds more power. Improper measuring can disrupt your sight; if the seg height is too low, you’ll find it hard to look through the intermediate channel or the intermediate will channel start where the distance channel should be.
Poorly fitted progressives are a common reason why people can’t adapt to them.
Adjusting to progressive lenses
For many people, progressive lenses may take a little ‘getting-used-to’ time. Multiple powers are included in one lens, so some people can feel dizzy because they’re looking through the wrong part of the lens. Some wearers feel a seasick sensation while they’re moving.
However, these sensations can be reduced or eliminated with changes to the way you shift your vision from one zone to another. Finding the lens correction ‘sweet spot’ may take a little time, but it will happen. The initial difference in your peripheral vision will also probably require some changes in your horizontal head and eye movements. It does take a little practice to adjust to reading with progressive lenses. The reading area of glasses is near the bottom of the lens, so if you tilt your head downward, you’re still looking through the distance portion of the lens instead of the section for close-up vision. Rather than tipping your head downward, use your eyes to look downward so the proper vision correction zone is used.
Tips for wearing in progressive lenses
- Choose a quality optometrist who can guide you through the process.
- Give yourself one or two weeks to adjust to them.
- Practice the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes spent staring at a screen, take 20 seconds to glance at something 20 metres away.
- Wear your new glasses as often as possible and avoid wearing other glasses (especially older prescriptions or single-vision). It will make the adjustment quicker.
- Try to always point your nose and chin at what you’re looking at, whether it’s a book, computer screen or traffic. If you’re working on a computer, adjust the chair height and level of your screen to give you optimal comfort.
- Become a “head-turner” as opposed to an “eye-mover”. Lower your eyes, not your head when reading.
- Don’t look through the sides of the glasses, as peripheral vision is distorted through progressive lenses
If you’re still having trouble adapting after a couple of weeks, check with our optometrists; it could just be that a measurement is off. Solving this issue could be as simple as adjusting the frame or the height. Our opticians are always available for consultations. Call us on 09 522 1283 or 09 836 1731 and we’ll be happy to help!
While a small percentage of people never get used to progressives, after wearing them for a while most people say they’d never go back to bifocals.
Between our Henderson optometrists and our optometrists in Newmarket our staff has dedicated over 35 years to helping Aucklanders through many a see change. If you’re at all worried about changes in your vision, call 09 522 1283 to schedule a comprehensive eye test.