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Old 04-16-2010, 06:26 PM   #1
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Anyone have experience with multifocal reading glasses?

I've had my current prescription reading glasses for five years now. I suspected my eyesight was degenerating and it was time for a new prescription.

I went to the local optometrist who did a thorough job of checking my eyes and formulating a new prescription. But then he told me about these new progressive multifocal lenses I should get. Because we read computer screens and books at different distances, these work better than basic, single focus reading glasses. I agreed.

A couple of weeks later, my new glasses were ready. I took them home and tried them. They were appalling. Everything was fuzzy. If I moved my head, things distorted. There was a small in-focus spot surrounded by fuzziness. For instance on my computer screen there's about a four inch area that is crisp and everything around that is fuzzy. To read the screen i have to move my head. When I move my head the screen and everything on it distorts, leaning over at an angle. The in-focus area moves across the screen like a searchlight.

With my old glasses, the entire (24 inch) computer screen is clear. If I move my head from side to side, there is no distortion.

I took the glasses back to the optometrist. He said there was nothing wrong with them. Because of the way they are designed, I would suffer some nausea initially, but if I persisted with wearing them, after about three weeks, my brain would learn to use them.

Is this right?

I made the effort to wear them for one whole day. At the end of it I was almost in tears. My eyes were burning and I felt nauseous and had a headache. These things cost me $246 but I'm ready to chuck them in the garbage.

Has anyone had experience with these lenses? Can you reassure me that the optometrist is right? Is it just a matter of getting used to them?

Last edited by RCR; 04-16-2010 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:03 PM   #2
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I have used progressive lenses for years - bifocals - considered trifocals but didn't seem necessary. And yes - you do have to train your eyes & brain which section of the lens to look through for near & far objects. I put mine on at work the day I got them and nearly fell down the stairs - I couldn't focus on where my feet were.

I "accidentally" trained myself the first night I wore them by having the TV on while I was reading. I kept shifting my eyes between the book & the TV all night - and learned which part of the lens I needed to look through to focus. This learning slips when I am extremely fatigued - I will find myself thinking "Gee, everything is blurry tonight" and then realize I'm looking through the wrong part of the lens.

Give it a try before you give up - doing something close up & looking at something farther away like I did - so your eyes can learn to navigate your lens.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:32 PM   #3
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My wife had bifocals for a while, the normal type of top part for distance and lower portion for reading. Unfortunately, she started to have a problem with mid-distance such as viewing a computer screen. She went to the eye doctor and after having an exam, she decided to try the progressive lenses. She was able to adapt fairly quickly to the lenses, but it took her a few days. She never got dizzy or nauseous, but for a while her eyes got tired and she had some eye strain headaches. After about two weeks, she could wear them constantly with no problems.

The experience, however, is not going to be the same for everybody because it’s going to depend on your peripheral vision and how much you normally shift your eyes when looking to your left and right. If you’re gifted with exceptional peripheral vision and you’ve always used your natural wide scope of vision to see the world, you’re going to have more difficulty adjusting to progressives. The other potential problem relates to how much you shift your eyes to view things around you. If you keep your head fairly still, but shift your eyes to the left and right, you’re going to have problems adjusting because you will be looking through areas of the lenses that will give you blurry vision. If instead you move your head toward the point of interest and allow your eyes to find the right spot of the lenses where focus is optimal, you’re going to have an easier time.

From the standpoint of the glasses, they have to fit your face correctly or you will never adjust. If the lenses are set too narrow or too wide for your eyes, one or both eyes will always look through the wrong part of the lens. Thus, if you’re still having no luck after a few days, you might want to go back to the eye doctor or try a different doctor to determine if the glasses need an adjustment to fit you properly.
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:55 PM   #4
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Good points jinlo - proper fit is crucial! Your focal point must match the lens's focal point. And you have to move your head to keep your eyes looking through the correct point in the lens. Sounds complicated - but it can be done! Your brain is a lot smarter than you are! If you know what I mean.

I remember the first time I wore a pair of dedicated extremely strong reading glasses. The phone rang, and when I got up to answer it I nearly fell down - my peripheral vision was curved like a fun-house mirror and I could not judge distances. I got tired of carrying 2 pair of glasses and trying to remember to switch - so I got the bifocals.
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:03 PM   #5
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I've had multifocals for years now. I wear them when out and about. I never could get the hang of bifocals but I adapted to multis well. It could easily be a matter of time for you.

However, with my last prescription I just couldn't see right. They could find nothing wrong with the glasses and gave me another eye check - nothing. In the end they redid my glasses using a different kind of lens (cheaper - they gave me money back) and these are fine. Neither I nor the Optometrist know why those glasses didn't work.

However, for reading at home or for long sessions I use reading glasses. I can't use multifocals comfortably for long sessions, or when not upright.

My husband has multifocals, readers and computer glasses. If you spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen maybe you need glasses specially for that distance. Yes it is a pain swapping but I find the wrong glasses give me neck pains and sometimes dizziness.

Keep trying the multis but they may not be a total solution.
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:35 PM   #6
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I hated progressives. I switched to "regular" bifocals...with a separate pair of reading/computer glasses. So far, that's worked for me, with my "reading/computer" glasses being worn about 90% of my day!

I went from contacts to the progressives, though. I'm still having trouble getting used to the lack of peripheral vision in regular eyeglasses versus contacts. The switch to progressives, which narrows your field of vision even worse, was just too much for me to take!

Personally, I've been thinking about going back to contacts, with simple "readers" for the reading/computer glasses.
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Old 04-17-2010, 02:10 AM   #7
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Old 04-17-2010, 06:25 AM   #8
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@RCR

I have had one pair of glasses with Varifocal / progressive lenses for a couple of years. Whilst I use them every day whilst out and about shopping or whatever I find separate normal and reading glasses far more satisfactory at home. (I am long sighted so need reading lenses more than normal / mid range)

Seems a couple of people here are confused as to what progressive Vari / multifocal lenses are. Bifocal lenses are not progressives they are two distinct lenses in one with a distinct break line between them, Trifocal 3. Progressive just that - a smooth progression with no breaks.

Varifocal is a lens with a narrow strip running down the centre ranging progressively from your normal vision prescription to your reading prescription. Moving your eyes side to side off this strip you will be looking through a fuzzy area. It is very important that they are made and fitted to match the centre of your eyes, otherwise one eye may see focused the other a blur. You must learn to move your head and eyes side to side to remain looking through the focus strip as you read across anything. The width of this strip varies by manufacturer and price.

Some people never find them satisfactory. Most opticians in Europe offer a free swap to bi focals or separate normal and reading glasses if you can not get on with them. and yes they are expensive.
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Old 04-17-2010, 06:55 AM   #9
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Hi RCR: As I recall, it took me a good month to adjust to mine. Worth sticking with. Mind you, unlike with my old specs which I used specifically for different jobs, going eye-nude between times, I wear these every waking moment. Maybe that's the trick. Good luck. Neil
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Old 04-17-2010, 09:10 AM   #10
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I have varifocal glasses after my reading glasses weren't good enough anymore. It took me more than a month to get used to it. Sometimes I have problems with them when driving and then I simply take them off because for large distances I have strength 0. In the beginning I also had a lot of trouble and I even went back to the optometrist and that did a new measurement which came out the same. Therefore I persisted until I got used to them. There is, however, a small percentage of people that will never get used to it.
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Old 04-17-2010, 04:37 PM   #11
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As my presbyopia progressed I went from single lens to bifocals to trifocals then to progressive. When I first got my bifocals, they were wonderful, and I had little trouble adjusting. Then the trifocals were slightly more difficult, but I soon adjusted and became adept at the head movements to select the correct focal plane.

So when I finally graduated to progressives I already had the head movement training down, and the transition was immediate. Now I wouldn't be without them.
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Old 04-17-2010, 04:50 PM   #12
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I've dodged that bullet thus far *knocks wood* I was EXTREMELY nearsighted and astigmatic for years. I wore the old fashioned hard contact lenses for over 20 years, having actually managed to keep ONE PAIR for almost 15!!! when I finally lost one (at the Frankfurt Zoo of all places) and went to both the Army optometrists and German ones, they kind of chuckled at me and told me that the machines to make them weren't even made anymore! . I then went into rigid contacts. but anyway, what this did was kept the surface of my eyes flat and stopped them from further deterioration for a long time. I finally had LASIK about 10 years ago and *knocks wood again* my near vision doesn't seem to be suffering. I think I may be losing some distance though. when I was shooting recently I noticed I was struggling with some of the far off targets.
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Old 04-17-2010, 05:08 PM   #13
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Never did get the hang of the bifocals. After I nearly fell a few times, I went back to two pair of glasses. Then I went to Trifocals. Didn't have a bit of problem adjusting to them. My next pair was progressive. They were impossible for me, so I'm back to my trusty tri's with the geeky line in them. Doesn't matter to me as long as I can see.

I've had this pair for over ten years and they work so well for me that I may never go back to the eye doctor.
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Old 04-19-2010, 07:29 AM   #14
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Thank you for the feedback, people. It was very kind of you all to tell me about your experiences. It's been a big help and comfort.

I don't know if I can get used to these spectacles. I've got sore eyes and a headache and feel miserable about them. And they just don't work!

I think, as Jinlo suggested, I do have wide peripheral vision and I do tend to keep my head still while moving my eyes left to right.

I'll try for a couple more weeks, but then I might take them back and get regular lenses put in. I'm annoyed that the optometrist promoted these lenses as the latest and greatest. He should have warned me that they can be such a pain to get used to, before I opted for them.
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Old 04-19-2010, 07:58 AM   #15
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I had vai-focal lenses for some years, and whilst my near & distance prescription was not too different, I coped. It gave me what I needed. However a couple of years ago it was decided that I needed more strength for reading. From then on I couldn't cope with var-focal lenses - I tend to move my eyes to focus and I could not get used to moving my head to find the small focal point for what I was looking at - much as RCR describes.
Bi-focal lenses are fine, but not ideal; it's harder to draw (for instance) and also read a newspaper - probably one of the drawbacks of growing old(er) - having one eye described as 'lazy' doesn't help my poor brain to interpret what I'm looking at .... I tend to have to sit too close to a PC screen than I ought to ... looking through the 'reading' part of the lenses.....

With time, it ought to get better RCR, mine cost £600 (vari) - so I expect that is a fraction of your cost ! - I'm surprised how expensive bi-focals are too ...
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