What are Progressive Lenses (PALS)?

October 06, 2019

progressive lenses

Progressive lenses are a type of optical glasses lens used to correct distance, intermediate (computer usage), and near (reading usage) at the same time.They are also called Progressive Addition Lenses (PALs) because the distance prescription is at the top and gradually increases in power to your full reading prescription as you move down the lens.

 A progressive lenses is an amazing piece of engineering, allowing multiple vision fields to be incorporated into a single lens without any clear distinction between the fields themselves.The power in the lenses “progressively” changes from far to intermediate to your full reading power. This is why progressive lenses are often referred to as “no-line” bifocals or trifocals.

You should think of progressive lenses as no-line bifocals. Progressives make the transition between prescriptions much smoother, eliminating that obvious line between the sides of the lens with different prescriptions. This technology helps you see better in more instances.

progressive glasses


The price of each kind of progressive lenses can vary greatly. PALs tend to be pricier than others because you’re in effect getting three lenses in one. The costs are determined by several factors, many of them mentioned well throughout this guide. One of the biggest factors is the type of progressive lenses you get.

Digital PALs are more expensive but are more personalized and specific to your measurements, which is key to providing an optimal visual experience. Traditionally surfaced and occupational lenses tend to be less expensive than digital lenses, but more expensive than “basic” PALs that have narrower corridors towards the bottom.

The amount your progressive lenses cost depends on a few factors, including your prescription, the brand of frames you choose, and other factors. However, you have to remember that a single pair of progressive lenses can replace multiple pairs of glasses, which could save you money in the long-run. Reference the following progressive lens comparison chart for more information on cyst.

Poly carbonate lenses have a moderate price and are thinner, lighter, and more durable than plastic. All Hi-index lenses will increase the price by a couple of hundred of dollars, but they compensate with incredible durability and the fact that they are lightweight, thin and have optimal optical clarity.

Our progressive lenses are Available in

  • Poly Carbonate material for lighter, thinner and impact-resistant wear (starting at $225)
  • High-Index material for even lighter and thinner lenses. We recommend this option for stronger prescriptions (starting at $300) Now, something to consider is if you have a high or complex prescription, then customized digital progressive lenses are your best bet.
  • Anyone with a lower prescription can try on different lens types and see what suits their needs. At the end of the day, when it comes to progressive lenses, you get what you pay for.
progressive lenses cost


If you are still wondering if progressive lenses are the better option for you, you’ll want to check out these advantages and disadvantages to make an informed decision.


One of their instant advantages is that the design of progressive lenses blends the prescription. There is no image jump or visible line on the lens. This enhances your comfort with your lenses and is a safer option when doing things such as driving.

That’s not to mention that more lenses and frames mean more maintenance and more money. That is just not as convenient. With progressive lenses, you don’t have to take them off when switching between things such as working on a computer and driving.

Even if you don’t use a computer, anything with an LCD or LED screen can be damaging to your eyes. So, you want that intermediate correction. Progressive lenses can correct distance, intermediate and reading focus within one lens. It’s like killing three birds with one stone.


One of the few progressive lens disadvantages it that there are occasionally problems with HD progressive lenses when walking up and downstairs. Since the reading correction is at the bottom, the stairs may seem like they bounce.

However, it’s all about adapting to your progressive lenses. With progressive lenses, problem often disappear in about two weeks, so it’s important to give it time when you’re adjusting to a new pair.

You may also have an issue with the materials, coatings, adjustments, and position-of-wear, rather than with the progressive lens itself. Some people also feel like they just don’t like progressive lenses and that they’re too hard to get used to.

Progressive lenses aren’t for everyone. A small percentage of people are unable to adapt to them, and in these cases, bifocals are a better alternative.


Progressive lenses let multiple vision fields to be added to a single lens, and “progressively” adjust for distance, intermediate, and reading. Even if you wear over-the-counter readers, progressive lenses can be made for you.

To wear them is often described as watching a movie on the latest HD flat screen release, instead of on an old tube television set. You can also think about it this way: It’s like having three sets of lenses in one; all without ever having to change your eyeglasses.


Progressive lenses are ”multi focal” lenses that give a seamless progression of many lens powers for clear vision across the room. Observing how progressive lenses are made and how they work is a great way to examine the unique characteristics of each. So let’s get into what all types of progressive lenses do.


There are two main forms of progressive lenses – traditional and digital free-form.This is where we will go over what progressive lens types are best for different kinds of people and sight problems.


Some hyperopic (farsighted) patients prefer to have “Plano” or no prescription in the top part of the lens and have the reading prescription at the bottom, so they’re able to wear glasses full-time without having to take them on and off.

1. They are also called bifocal reading glasses. Even if someone wears over-the-counter readers, PALs can be made with no prescription at the top and the reading in the bottom without a doctor’s prescription.


One of the coolest types of lenses is the transition progressive lens, also called a photo chromatic lens. These are lenses that will darken when exposed to UV light and are available in almost all lens types and for most prescriptions. These are a popular choice as they can protect your eyes from harmful UV.


There are also many terms used when describing progressive lenses that may have you confused. HD progressive lenses are a selling tactic for digital lenses. Free-form progressive lenses can produce a more customized and accurate finished lens.

Backside progressive lenses are free form progressive lenses that have the prescription on the backside of the lens. The advantage of this is that the power distribution sits closer to the eye.

Any customization of progressive lenses is highly recommended as they are custom-made for your specific needs, right down to the frame, prescription, and even your lifestyle. They can cost a couple of hundred dollars more but specific measurements are taken to improve peripheral vision.

You must keep in mind that all PALs will have some distortion along the periphery.
Determining what the best type of progressive lenses comes down to a matter of opinion, your specific measurements, as well as what you desire from your new eyeglasses.

1. This type of lenses uses a semi-finished lens that is molded with no cylinder (spherical power) on the front. Instead, the spherical power is added to the backside.

2. However, this type of progressive lens is becoming obsolete, because it isn’t as accurate as other options now available. The corridors (the part of lenses that corrects your vision) are narrower.


Progressive lens designs give the best optical view when the wearer’s optical needs are considered. Digital lens surfacing is mostly relevant to progressive prescription lenses.

1. The major difference between digital and traditional is the ability to customize regions of a digital lens to suit an individual. A digital surfacing lens ensures the most precise prescription based on the shape of your face, how you prefer to wear your frame and the position of your eyes.

2. These Digital progressive lenses have a wider area for distortion-free reading and sharp distance vision. An additional benefit of getting the digital progressive lenses is gaining a high clarity vision in the intermediate distance area (between reading and distance). This increased vision is very useful for computer use and other everyday activities.

3. At Vint & York, all our progressive lenses are custom-tailored with your actual specifications, measurements, frame shape and size, and other factors.


5. Other kinds of progressive lenses are digital free-form.

6. Digitally finished lenses are computer engineered for optimum clarity and accuracy. They are often recommended by doctors as opposed to the prior because they come with many benefits. One of them is that these lenses are specifically surfaced for your prescription, frame dimensions and position-of-wear.

7. These are all important factors in proper eyesight correction because of how the lenses are designed. Since the same eyeglass frames may sit higher on your face, and lower on someone else’s, specifications and measurements need to ensure your optimal comfort and optical experience.

8. They also offer wider and more accurate channels and corridors, which means that you’ll have better peripheral vision. Besides this, digital free-form progressives have also the technology to decrease the blurriness around the edges of the peripheral view.

Our Progressive Lenses are developed with Digital Free form technology – the most advanced on the market – and our laboratory is equipped to handle all types of prescriptions and produce the most accurate true digital free-form progressive lenses. Our progressive lenses go through a rigorous quality control process and are stamped with “V&Y” watermark upon passing the test.

types of progressive lenses


Alas, the inevitable progressive lenses vs bifocal debate.Fortunately, it can be broken down easily.


No lines across the lenses, and cosmetically more appealing: bifocals have a visible line on the lens between the different settings which can cause an image jump when refocusing your eyes from the distance correction to the reading section. They can also only correct two strengths – distance and reading.


 Bifocal lenses provide a distinct near and far viewing area, but no intermediate area (3-20 feet away). The different viewing areas are separated by noticeable lines that can be awkward, abrupt, and frustrating to the wearer. Progressive lenses have no image jump, featuring a continuous field of vision.

With the rise in computer usage, most people need intermediate correction as well as distance and reading.

 Progressive lenses are the only ones that can offer three corrections within one lens. Other benefits include a wider field of vision and an easier adaptation. So, bifocals tend to be more of an alternative or second-best option.

Varifocal lenses, also known as progressive lenses, are used when you have two prescriptions, one for distance and one for reading. Varifocal lenses work by having a gradual change in strength from the top of the lens to the bottom and multiple focal points in between.

The upper part of the lens contains the distance power, the middle of the lens has the intermediate ranges and the lower portion, the reading part.


Almost all progressive lenses are trifocals with no line.

The line is eliminated by a more natural transition and a better optical experience. There is also a lens known as the blended bifocal which is the equivalent of a progressive lens.

What most people need to know is that it corrects distance and near, not intermediate. As for anyone wondering if progressive lenses are the same as varifocals, this is a European term used to describe progressive lenses. They also offer two corrections.


To the naked eye, progressive lenses look like most other lenses. Only trained optical technicians and opticians will be able to identify them.But even though they might look like any other lens, some big differences set them far apart.

They are multi focal lenses used to correct distance, near sight and intermediate sight for when you’re using the computer or looking at a screen.

Most progressive lenses will have laser etchings in the lens that are virtually invisible to the wearer and can only be seen using a special “identifier.”

These laser etchings will notify the optician of the added power (which is the strength needed to correct for reading), the starting point of the additional power, and the lens material and the manufacturer of the lens.


To answer who needs progressive lenses or who should get this type of lenses in one short sentence isn’t possible. They help with so many things and there are also many optical conditions treatable with the incredible engineering of these lenses!

Most people could benefit from a little “boost” in near vision, it can increase dependence on the magnification and most doctors would recommend waiting until presbyopia has begun.

You don’t have to be diagnosed with a condition to take advantage of the technology-infused into progressive lenses. If your vision is blurry when focusing on something, PAL's could be all you need.

It comes down to whether you need sight correction for distance, intermediate or near, and what you do. Let’s see:


Why have several pairs of glasses for different activities – reading, computer use, distance, television watching, etc, when you can have progressive glasses?When the sun is up, you need a good pair of progressive sunglasses to block UV rays and also take care of your vision.


Progressive lenses are often prescribed for people suffering from presbyopia, which usually affects people over 40.

Presbyopia usually occurs at around age 40, when people experience blurred near vision when reading, sewing or working at the computer. You can’t escape presbyopia, even if you’ve never had a vision problem before.

Nearsighted people will notice that their near vision blurs when they wear their usual eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct distance vision.

This is why progressive lenses are ideal for patients who have presbyopia – a vision condition marked by a decrease in the ability to focus sharply on nearby objects. As we age naturally, our ability to see nearby objects and objects in the distance can decrease.

Progressive lenses address separate visual needs in one lens. And it is also why progressive lenses are ideal for patients who have presbyopia.

Rather than a line separating these areas, they are “blended” together within the progressives, often with the middle portion of the lens serving as intermediate vision correction when necessary.


However, as this study reveals, progressive lenses are also used to reduce the progression of myopia.


Progressive lenses can correct astigmatism but are not solely used for astigmatism correction. Astigmatism is when the eye is no longer spherical, but more football-shaped.

That sends light to different parts of the eye instead of at the center. It is fairly common with most glasses-wearers but is not dependent on any other factors (like myopia, hyperopia, or presbyopia).


Patients with higher prescriptions can still benefit from progressive lenses. It’s usually not the design that will determine the type of lens that will work for the patient, but the lens material.

The industry standard has mostly moved away from using glass lenses because they are significantly heavier than more modern materials and can make wearing glasses uncomfortable.

CR-39 Plastic works well for low prescriptions and has an optical clarity comparable to glass.

Polycarbonate has become the industry standard for lenses.

It’s thinner, lighter, more scratch-resistant, and shatter-resistant, as opposed to CR-39 and glass. Patients with higher or more complex prescriptions will benefit more from hi-index

(which is available in multiple indexes, 1.67 is what we use, but the highest index is 1.74 and is the thinnest material available).

Hi-index lenses have a higher optical clarity than polycarbonate and are high-tensile, which is great for drill-mounted or rimless frames.

The difference in thickness between 1.67 and 1.74 is marginal, but the price difference is significant. However, the availability of lenses in certain prescriptions may limit which material a patient can get. Someone with a -12.00 may only be able to get a 1.74 in a certain lens type

progressive reading glasses


If you have a desk job that involves a lot of computer work, your doctor may say that you need computer progressive lenses. These lenses will improve your vision when you’re focusing on things in the intermediate zone, providing more comfort at the computer.

To decide when to use progressive lenses can be summed down to whenever you need to focus on something, whether you’re reading, on the computer, sewing, driving.


PAL's are recommended for people needing correction for distance and near.There are contact lenses that can correct for presbyopia, but not as accurately as PAL's. Typically, contact lenses that correct for presbyopia are more of an approximate correction. Patients who can’t or prefer not to use contact lenses should use PAL's.


The way you fit a progressive lens is one of the most important factors because it will measure the see height of the area on the lens to which the progressive adds more power. Improper measuring can disrupt your sight, making the intermediate channel start where the distance channel should be.

If the see height is too low, you’ll find it hard to look through the intermediate and near channels.

There is more to proper fitting as it also includes taking 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.


If you want a smaller progressive lens with shallower lens depth that can also be an option.However, it’s not recommended for first-time wearers, because adapting to them can be more difficult. Most opticians will recommend at least 30 mm of lens height/depth. If you already wear progressive lenses and want to switch from a smaller to a larger frame, your eyes will have to readopt. This happens because the near channel will now be lower than what it was with the smaller frames, and vice versa if you were to switch from large to small frames.


Unfortunately, not all frames fit progressive lenses.

Experienced progressive lens wearers know that not every progressive lens design fits every frame. The result: you may need to compromise the quality of your vision, as areas of the progressive lens may be removed when your lenses are being inserted in the frame.

Check with your optician and choose from metal, classic, geek-chic or colorful frames that meet your needs.
The fact is that your new glasses will have multiple viewing ranges that must rest in a comfortable area.

There are measurements called “minimum fitting heights” that help ensure that your new frame style allows you to read, watch TV, drive, and do other day-to-day activities comfortably.

At Vint & York, we carry some of the best frames for progressive lenses that allow you to get all the amazing benefits of this technology, without compromising style or your personality.

You may also have adaptation difficulties, if you switch from a small to a larger frame, as you will have to relearn how to move your eyes through the various ranges of vision. This happens as the near vision zone is suddenly lower down the lens and this is something your eyes have to get used to.


Here are some tips to adjust to your new progressive lenses faster:Patience is necessary when first wearing PAL's (progressive addition lenses).

  • When first wearing PAL's, avoid using older glasses or single-vision glasses, which can delay the adapting process.
  •  Wear them as much as possible. Allow at least two weeks for adapting and bear in mind that any dizziness, nausea, or headaches should be communicated to the dispensing optician. Always allow the dispensing optician an opportunity to troubleshoot your PAL's, they will generally know more about glasses.
  • If there are any difficulties, let your optician know, and don’t drive until you’re fully comfortable with the lenses.


Practice the 20/20/20 rule. For every 20 minutes spent staring at a screen, take 20 seconds to glance at something 20 feet away.

  •  Wear them as often as possible and avoid wearing other glasses (especially older prescriptions or single-vision). 
  • 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.
  • Doctors recommend becoming a “head-turner” as opposed to an “eye-mover” when wearing progressive lenses. Lower your eyes, not your head, when reading. Don’t look through the sides of the glasses, as peripheral vision is distorted through PALS.

If you are experiencing headaches, dizziness or nausea, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to give up on PALS. When progressive lenses don’t work, it could just be that a measurement is off, whether in the fit or prescription.

Solving this issue could be as simple as adjusting the type of PAL that you’re using (the frame or the height that the progressive begins adding more power).
If you’ve tried progressive lenses before and had trouble with them, many doctors recommend that you try them again a few years later.

Since technology is always improving, adapting to progressive lenses may be much easier with the latest changes.

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