Eyeglasses: bifocal or progressive?

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Forum topic by Tomw posted 12-09-2010 04:41 PM 12311 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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102 posts in 3402 days

12-09-2010 04:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: eyeglasses question

I’ll be going to the optometrist soon for a new prescription. I currently have bifocals, and I find myself struggling to see close up and in the middle range. I’m wondering if anybody has experience switching from bifocals to so-called progressive lenses? Are there any advantages for the kinds of tasks woodworkers routinely do? Is the adjustment difficult?

Thanks in advance


-- Tom

43 replies so far

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3300 days

#1 posted 12-09-2010 04:50 PM

I’ve worn progressives for many years and the only problem I have is when I get them renewed as it’s always hard for the first two days to get used to them as you can get a bit dizzy – but if you are diligent and wear them everyday, soon, you won’t notice the difference. The only drawback is when you lean back in your easy chair to watch the TV and you end up looking through the bottom – but I’m sure you experienced the same thing with bifocals.


View canadianchips's profile


2609 posts in 3172 days

#2 posted 12-09-2010 04:53 PM

I tried….And failed. Every time I moved my head to the perfect angle to see through the lens I would end up missing the nail I was trying to hit (Always hitting my own) Even bi focals were an issue. I now wear my reading glasses in shop, not the answer either, but what do we do ?

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3249 days

#3 posted 12-09-2010 04:57 PM

My regular glasses are progressives. I think they are great for out-of-the-shop use.

I also had a pair of prescription safety glasses made for in the shop. These glasses on single lens (i.e. not progressive or bi-focal) and they are optimized for a distance of 2 – 5 feet. Because they are single lens they were quite cheap (less than $50 for lens and frame). These glasses are great for in-the-shop use. They have the added benefit of being made of a safety glass that is more resistant to breaking.

There are 2 minor negatives. If I want to look across the shop (at the clock on the far wall) I have to look over the glasses and if I need to read some fine print, I have to get my regular glasses because the safety glasses are not good for reading fine print. Despite these two problems, this is the perfect solution for me.

FYI – these safety glasses are also perfect for computer use because my monitor is about 3 feet from my eyes (the perfect range for these glasses). I have them on right now.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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Bill White

5105 posts in 4135 days

#4 posted 12-09-2010 05:01 PM

I tried ‘em. Walked around like a cat on wet grass for about 3 days. Took ‘em back and got regular bifocals. Standard use glasses for me are readers from Wally World.


View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3158 days

#5 posted 12-09-2010 05:01 PM

When I first got bifocals, I went right to the progressive lenses and loved them. My next pair I forgot to tell the eye doctor I wanted the progressive lenses and ended up with the lined bifocals. What a mistake that was. I’ve had more problems and still haven’t gotten use to them. I plan to get new glasses this next year and will make sure to go back to the progressive lenses. The transition is much easier to deal with than the lined bifocals.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View GregD's profile


788 posts in 3311 days

#6 posted 12-09-2010 05:17 PM

I just got my first pair of progressives last week. I’m still getting used to them. With them I can focus on something regardless of its distance – far, near, or intermediate. The correction for reading distance is very low and only a few inches wide so I still switch back to reading glasses if I’m going to sit at the computer.

For the shop I ordered my first pair of safety bifocals with the transition line about as high as the optomitrist was willing to go. I figure I mostly want to see close up, but I also need to be able to see distance when I’m walking around. I am hoping that the near correction in the conventional bifocals is wider than progressives.

-- Greg D.

View northwoodsman's profile


245 posts in 3921 days

#7 posted 12-09-2010 05:17 PM

I have progressive lenses and I HATE them. When I watch TV, I wear them upside down (both lenses have the same prescription). Walking down steps is also a challenge. When I first received them they told me to wear them for 2 weeks to get used to them, then if they didn’t work to bring them back. I was travelling a lot during that time period and just never made it back. My wife received a pair this past summer. She took hers back and got the lenses changed out within the 30 day window. I have worn glasses since I was 10 years old, and this is the first time that I have hated them. The top half of my lenses are for distance viewing (fairly strong prescription). The bottom half is like this: the center 1/3rd is magnified for reading, the outer 1/3rd on both sides has no correction. If the entire bottom half had the correction I think they would work better, but the optometrist argued that it wouldn’t. The problem is that when I am reading I can’t just move my eyes, I have to move my whole head. I find that I can read MUCH better without them on. In January I’m going to a new optometrist and won’t make the mistake in getting these lenses again. I’m in my mid-forties and usually look forward to change, but not this time. Now on the other hand, I have several friends that have them and don’t see how they ever got by without them. I would make sure that you have the option to return them if they don’t workout for you and make sure you keep track of the date you need to return them by.

-- NorthWoodsMan

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jim C

1472 posts in 3273 days

#8 posted 12-09-2010 05:23 PM

I’ve worn glasses virtually all of my life. Started at 3 yrs. old, now 64 :-(
I wear progressives and hav no issues. I believe you have a wider range of vision with the transition if your eyes are bad near and far.
If you only need them for reading, and your eyes are good for distance, maybe bifocals are a better choice.

View b2rtch's profile


4863 posts in 3223 days

#9 posted 12-09-2010 05:27 PM

I have progressive for years and I love them

-- Bert

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3260 days

#10 posted 12-09-2010 05:37 PM

I have the lined trifocals, and they work good for me, of course when I got my first pair of bifocals, they
only offered the lined version. The first time they offered me progressive or unlined bifocals it was with a
sales pitch that they would look like regular lenses and people would not know you had bifocals, they also
cost more. My parents forgot to teach me to worry too much about how others regard me, so I never
have tried the progressive lens.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3637 days

#11 posted 12-09-2010 05:37 PM

I HAD progressive lenses and hated them. I felt as though I was under the influence when wearing them. One of the major drawbalcks that I had was you MUST look straight forward while wearing them. There is no looking out of the corner of your eye at something. It made driving an almost impossible task. While the progressives are a nice thought and some people love them I couldnt handle it. If you do not look directly forward the vision becomes blurry and depth perception is way off. the progressives were not for me, you might be able to try them for awhile and see if you like them of not it may be bifocal time.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3273 days

#12 posted 12-09-2010 05:55 PM


I agree with you, as I have to look straight ahead or anything from the sides is blurred. Maybe thats why I suck at golf. Hmmmmmm.
Now that I think about it, I never had that problem when I wore bifocals. Of course that was 30 years ago.
I’m due for an eye exam, I will investigate going back to bifocals.

View lew's profile


12382 posts in 3930 days

#13 posted 12-09-2010 06:07 PM

I have been told that if you are used to one type (line/no line) it is very difficult to change. I have always had the progressive type and other than what Ken mentioned, I have no complaints. My eye doctor had mine made so that I can read really small print (electronic circuit boards) at a comfortable distance while keeping the other parameters at a “normal” setting.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16278 posts in 4393 days

#14 posted 12-09-2010 06:11 PM

I went straight from no glasses to progressives. My distance correction is very slight…. I need them mostly for closeup. I can still pass the drivers license eye exam with no glasses, but I can’t even look at my watch and tell you what time it is.

I got used to the progressives in a couple of days with no problem. I could easily get by with not wearing them and just using reading glasses for close up, but I find it easier just to leave my progressives on all the time as opposed to constantly fumbling for reading glasses every time I need to see close.

I guess the bottom line is that they work great for some folks, and not so hot for others. I think it is definitely worth trying them, though, because they are really convenient if you can adapt to them.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Verna's profile


202 posts in 2948 days

#15 posted 12-09-2010 06:42 PM

Progressives—the only ones I’ve had since I had to go to bifocals, about 17 years ago. I don’t have to move my head as much as relatives and friends who have the “line” bifocals. I guess this is one of the few ways I allow myself to be vain…..

-- Verna -- Indianapolis, IN

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