Question: I heard progressive can make you sick. Do you think I can wear them?
Dr. Keats: Progressives can indeed make one feel out of sorts and if you have a severe problem with vertigo or extreme motion sickness compared to the vast majority of folks who struggle with it mildly. If you are one of these people in the extreme, I might suggest you use a lined bifocal, or trifocal, or two pairs of glasses at near and far.
However, the majority of progressive lens failures have to do with the quality of the lens purchased. At Northwood Vision, we have a very low progressive non-adapt rate because we fit most of our patients in higher quality lenses.
Here is an extreme analogy: If you want to listen to music, you could go to the hardware store and buy an inexpensive weather radio. It will play music. But you also could go to the International Mall and purchase a high quality stereo surround system. It also plays music. Of course, you can predict which one will sound better and provide you with an experience you will enjoy the most. In fact, you will be more inclined to use the best quality stereo more frequently because of its impact on your auditory experience. You will hear more sounds, with better depth and tone. The higher price is worth it to anyone who values that experience. Progressives are just like this. The higher quality lenses come at a steeper price, but they afford a patient with less peripheral swim, wider fields of view, and a more natural, crisp experience to the level their own vision allows.
Sadly, some optical stores will tease you into their store, offering you much lower prices on progressive lenses, but when you get there, they will try to upsell you to a mid-range, off label product that is the lowest cost possible to them that will still allow you to adapt to the lens. However, if these patients could compare a very high quality lens, like the Varilux Physio Enhanced, or Varilux S series lens, they would notice a marked difference in the visual experience. (Hoya Vision and Carl Zeiss also make some premium products that can compete with Varilux, but the price is similar. )
I can attest to this truth. When I worked at a store like I described, they gave me a free pair of their best product every year. I was not unhappy and I functioned well in it. So it was quite a surprise to me that the Varilux lens I purchased for myself, once I bought Northwood Vision, had much less swim and wider fields of view than my older lens. I had been told at this other optical that their premium product was just as good as Varilux, but at a lower cost. But I just did not find this to be true in my own experience.
Not surprisingly, my cost on these higher end lenses can exceed the retail cost of the mid-grade lenses they sell. So naturally these technologically advanced lenses come at a higher retail price. But when we consider that everything we do in life during all our waking hours might be interpreted through the lenses we look through, I believe the investment is worth it compared to some of the other things we spend our money on. Even the earlier, slightly less expensive Varilux models are better, in my opinion, than most of the off label lenses. So if your budget is tight, I would recommend one of the older Varilux products. But if you are willing to invest in the advanced quality that stems from emerging technology, I am 99% confident you will thrive in these amazing technologies. Give your vision the best optics you can get. The way you view the world rests on that choice.