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Old 03-12-11, 08:19 PM   #1
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Progressive lenses and cycling

As regards cycling, what sort of things should I be aware of when ordering progressive lenses?

In a current discussion of glasses on another forum someone said,

Quote:
There are different profiles and the cheapest also has the narrowest band of full prescription. It is kind of an hourglass shape and the narrower the center the more critical the direction you are looking. For riding I have found this tremendously distracting. It limits my peripheral vision and makes me queazy when I look around.

I have made it work with the broader pattern where my prescription for long distance is wider in the middle and top and the reading prescription is a smaller area.
I visited my optician yesterday in advance of seeing the optometrist on the 25th. It was my third visit looking at frames. I finally decided to go with the first ones we liked. Then the lens discussion came up.

For 15 years I've worn lined bi-focals and tri-focals. Largely this is because I'd heard most heavy readers prefer them. Reading is… well let's just say it's an occupational hazard.

The new frames are much wider than what I've been wearing and this impacts the lens thickness at the edge. Progressives will knock a full mm off this, and my optician made me a deal that was too sweet to refuse.

I haven't actually ordered them yet, pending the appointment with the eye doc, but it has me thinking.

First question:

Are progressive lenses appropriate on the bike?

Second question:

Both my computer glasses and my sunglasses will be lined bi-focals. Any issues between switching back-and-forth between these and my new everyday glasses with progressive lenses?
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Old 03-12-11, 08:36 PM   #2
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Yes, progressives are good on a bike. Especially if you like to read the computer.

Can't help with the second question, as I've never had lined bi or tri-focals.

The difficulty as my optometrists have pointed out is trying to get anything that remotely resembles wrap-around frames with progressive lenses. I've had single-vision lenses in a wrap-around frame, but that was touch and go. I don't know the technical reasons.

The reason why this has been important to me (and probably less so to others) is that I like to have transitions tinting in the lenses so they become sunglasses; I can use them day or night, so I don't have to take two pairs of sunglasses on long rides; and the wrap-around shape naturally reduces the amount of wind on the eyeball, and thus reduces eye dryness and fatigue. I won't go the route of separate lenses inside wrap-arounds.

My optometrists also have indicated that it takes a little time to get used to progressive lenses as you need to position your eyes in the appropriate spot, and that takes some brain power (literallly). After a while, the brain apparently gets used to the right position. This might be an answer to your second question with regard to changing between lined and progressive lenses.

I cannot really understand the issue with peripheral vision. To me peripheral vision is a notification that something is there, and then my head moves in that direction. I know some peope have issues with walking down stairs on the pretext of having to use their peripheral vision, but again, that comes back to positioning the head and eyes to keep the steps in the right focus.

What I didn't realise until recently is that the base prescription for the progressive lenses doesn't change -- your eyes have fixed defects (such as astigmatism or other issues) -- and that the progressive lenses just change in magnification.

Others' miles, interpretations and opinions may vary, of course.
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Old 03-12-11, 08:44 PM   #3
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Both my computer glasses and my sunglasses will be lined bi-focals. Any issues between switching back-and-forth between these and my new everyday glasses with progressive lenses?

That may not work, I have tried it. I have to go one way.

I Have Tri Focals... The secret is to have the lines adjusted where you need them. Not to high or too low.



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Old 03-12-11, 08:44 PM   #4
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I'm not talking cycling-style wraparounds. These are to be my everyday, daily living glasses. But they also have to work on the bike--I pretty much can't see from one end of the saddle to the other without glasses--and that's before the indignities of aging.

The frames I've chosen are ěrgreen Optics Ridley. These, only in a blue.




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Old 03-12-11, 08:47 PM   #5
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I Have Tri Focals... The secret is to have the lines adjusted where you need them. Not to high or too low.
Boy, I know all about that. I learned pretty quickly that I prefer my lines a smidge lower than most people, and that seems to work well on the bike too.
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Old 03-12-11, 08:51 PM   #6
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I'm not talking cycling-style wraparounds. These are to be my everyday, daily living glasses. But they also have to work on the bike--I pretty much can't see from one end of the saddle to the other without glasses--and that's before the indignities of aging. The frames I've chosen are ěrgreen Optics Ridley, only in a blue.

Most important is when they take your measurements.
You want the sections where you really need them.
Not too low or too high.

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Old 03-12-11, 08:52 PM   #7
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Boy, I know all about that. I learned pretty quickly that I prefer my lines a smidge lower than most people, and that seems to work well on the bike too.
I got two pair the last time. A sports pair for the bike.
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Old 03-12-11, 08:53 PM   #8
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Good Luck....
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Old 03-12-11, 08:55 PM   #9
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I've been wearing "tri-focal" progressive lenses for several years. I have them in both regular, normal wear frames and sunglasses with a slight wrap. I wear both depending on overcast or clear. My lenses correct for astigmatism. I've have no riding issues at all with either. Peripheral vision works, looking down at the computer read-out is no problem, etc.

If these are your first pair of progressivs, they may take a week or so to accustom yourself but I would never go back to non-progressives.

Like all spectacled cyclists, the damned things steam up in the rain and fog up in mist. Wonder how Laurent Fignon managed on all those rainy days?
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Old 03-12-11, 08:57 PM   #10
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I've worn progressives for 15 years. Just got a new pair with photochromic AR coated Hoya lenses especially for riding and they're great. For me, they're the only way to go. You might find switching between progressives and normal bi/tri focals to be problematic. Then again, you might not.
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Old 03-12-11, 09:06 PM   #11
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My regular glasses are progressive bifocals. I have some Rudy Project wraparound sunglasses for bike riding only. These have a clip-in prescription insert, behind the wraparound lenses. When I got them 4 years ago, I could (barely) get by with only distance correction. So now I have a stick-on $11.00 bifocal on them, which works great for seeing the bike computer.

The clip-in insert is much smaller than the sunglass lens, so it isn't very thick, and doesn't distort in the wraparound part.

When I put on the bike bifocals, there's a momentary "Hey! what's this thing in my line of sight?" before my eyes adapt. After 30 seconds, I'm ignoring the bifocal line as if they were my everyday glasses. Originally, it probably took 2 or 3 rides before I got completely used to them.

With progressives, I like being able to focus correctly at any intermediate distance. However, the sides of the lenses never focus completely at any distance. That took a while before my brain started ignoring it. For instance, a big 23 inch LCD screen is only in sharp focus about half of the width of the screen, but it doesn't cause me any problems. Just now, I had to concentrate on exactly how much is in focus, and it surprised me that it was only about half the screen. I seem to use the whole width without noticing that I'm turning my head, I suppose.

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Old 03-12-11, 09:17 PM   #12
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I must be weird... I've had no luck at all with progressives.

I've worn bifocals for several years, with the bottom lens set to keyboard / book distance, and the top to monitor / arm's length distance (I work in IT, hence the computer references). Although my far-distance vision can be improved a bit with glasses, I can drive safely without them and usually just wear standard sunglasses anyway. I have to simply get a bit closer to distant signs to differentiate between 3, 8, B, etc. Theoretically, progressives would be a big help while driving, since all distances would be covered. Theoretically.

About six years ago I gave progressives a shot. Although I was told it might take a few weeks to fully acclimate, I couldn't do it. I ended up with eye strain, headaches adn neck (muscle) strain since I would unconciously tense up my neck trying to find the area in focus. Plus, the area of clear focus was only about the size of a quarter to half-dollar at arm's length (~30-ish mm). Everything else was blurry. If I looked at a phone book, the name was clear, but the number blurry. I literally had to point my nose at each and every word as I read. It ground my productivity at work to a standstill.

So, I went back to bifocals.

Then, just last December I gave progressives another shot. I was told there were much newer designs, better patterns, etc., etc. - Same deal, no better at all. They're still in my desk drawer and I'm using my previous bifocals.

The progressives I was shown had (at best) an oval-shaped "area of best focus" for each distance, for lack of a better term. If I could get progressives that were "shaped" like bifocals but simply 'progressed' in focal point from bottom to top instead of having an abrupt line, they would probably work. The problem for me is that they fall off in focus from side to side vastly too much. If they would maintiain focus across the width of the lens, while changing only from bottom to top, I think I could use them.

Some of the folks at my optometrist said basically, "Yeah, everything is sharp in mine" (their's), but then said "well, it's a little sharper here, than there". If that's true then by definition "everything" is NOT sharp. Either it is or it isn't. Even a tiny bit blurry is not sharp by definition.

I guess I'll stay with bifocals, drive and bike without them, and squint a lot when reading while driving/biking.
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Old 03-12-11, 09:20 PM   #13
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For instance, a big 23 inch LCD screen is only in sharp focus about half of the width of the screen, but it doesn't cause me any problems. Just now, I had to concentrate on exactly how much is in focus, and it surprised me that it was only about half the screen. I seem to use the whole width without noticing that I'm turning my head, I suppose.
That's part of the reason I think I'm staying with lined lenses for my computer glasses. I have a pair of 24-inchers for a total of 3840 x 1200. They're angled-in a bit so the overall width is 44". Of course, with that kind of width, there's no way I can use them without turning my head.
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Old 03-12-11, 09:25 PM   #14
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Nice frames. I started with lined bifocals in my 40's, and graduated to progressives in my 50's. I never had much of an issue with them - and I wear them whenever I'm not in bed... haven't noticed a problem cycling with 'em, though I am sure you cycle more than I do - me being only a 3-season commuter. No eyeglasses ever give peripheral vision of normal unaided sight - but then, you do move your head to focus when you see something to the side. My biggest problem has always been with coatings - both UV and antiglare - however careful I am with cleaning (and I'm detail oriented, always use correct cloth, etc.) I had always had them get soft and end up looking like I scratched the lenses - but when I went to the optician to have the coatings stripped, the lenses underneath were like new, not a scratch.
I love Transitions - no fumbling around for the sunglasses anymore. The first minute going inside is a bit dodgy, but they lighten pretty quickly.
Good luck!
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Old 03-12-11, 09:34 PM   #15
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... For instance, a big 23 inch LCD screen is only in sharp focus about half of the width of the screen
I don't have this problem with a 27" screen - but I guess it really depends on your prescription - and with 2 X 24" screeens, forget having everything focused at the same time. That's what neck muscles are for... YMMV.
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Old 03-13-11, 05:57 AM   #16
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I'm sure a major factor in how well progessives work for the individual is the strength and type of prescription. I'm only moderately nearsighted have no astigmatism. I work at my desk and computer with no glasses as my nearsightedness compensates pretty well for my presbyopia.
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Old 03-13-11, 06:17 AM   #17
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Progressives have a trade off for the lack of lines. Because they are a continuous lens, there are areas of distortion away from the central axis of each perscription. As with a new pair of very strong lenses, there will be a period of distortion untill the brain readjusts it's processing of what you see. Changing back and forth will possibly (probably if your perscription is strong) result in a state of constant confusion for your visual data processing.

IMHO you will need to go one way or the other, but not both.

If your perscription is mild, you may have no problem at all. Unfortunately, there may be no way to know in advance ...... It's sort of like a new saddle, you may like it, you may hate it, you may adjust to it, but it's not easy to pick one up and know before you ride.
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Old 03-13-11, 06:27 AM   #18
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had the progressive for about 6 weeks they made me dizzy and sick to my stomach. It was nearly impossible for me to read as the page seemed to be going up and down as I tried to focus. I hated them so I went back to my regular lined bifocals.
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Old 03-13-11, 06:51 AM   #19
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The glasses that I wear most of the time have progressive lenses. I get some distortion but only in the extreme peripheral position. The only time that I notice is checking traffic at intersections that don't have 90 degree corners.

The sunglasses that I wear most of the time when I bicycle are lined bifocals. I once tried sunglasses that had my distant prescription only. That was a mistake. I find that I check maps and such more often than I had imagined. I don't sense any difference when I switch from my lined bifocals to the glasses with transition lenses.
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Old 03-13-11, 06:55 AM   #20
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I could never get used to bifocals. About ten years ago I switched to monocular contact lenses - reading lens in the left eye, mid/distance in the right (although I can get by with no adjustment in the right). I love the mono approach. Works for reading, biking, driving, scuba, etc. I haven't yet found a situation it was a problem for.
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Old 03-13-11, 08:15 AM   #21
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I switch between all sorts of lenses with no problems. I have progressives for everyday use and a computer progressive lens for at my desk at work. I have 2 large monitors and can see all of 1 without moving my head. I also use a pair of bifocals for cycling (see below).

As the OP quoted there is a noticeable difference between the vision quality of different progressive lenses - if you get one of the $99 pairs that ship from Asia, the distortion especially when moving your head side-to-side is noticeable and disturbing.

I have cycled using the regular progressives; however, I didn't feel the coverage was sufficient on the sides. So, for cycling now I use a pair of inexpensive Berkley fishing sunglasses that have a magnifying section - i.e. bifocals. My distance vision is good enough to not need correction, though I can't tell the difference between, for example, a goat and a dog at 1/4 mile, but when it's close enough to matter I can. The Berkley glasses are full wraparound and even "look" like cycling glasses. I can read my bike computer perfectly with them.

If I could find a wraparound progressive that didn't cost multiple limbs I'd certainly jump on that.
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Old 03-13-11, 08:23 AM   #22
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Nice frames. < snip > I love Transitions
Thanks. They were the first frames we liked. I complicated the whole section process, then ended up right back where we started. I think I owe my optician some flowers or something for putting up with my indecision.

I used to love my genuine Photogrey Extras. The plastic photochromatics are a pale imitation, and IMHO, not worth the cost or effort.

Either way, I can't use them any more. Night blindness runs in my family and seems to hit in the our 50s. These past four or five years it's hit me pretty hard. I have to change from my sunnies to regular glasses outside, or I can't see at all when I go inside. And all photochromatics never lighten up fully. (Even "clear" lenses absorb 3% to 5% of light.) That just won't do riding after dark. (Every year I think I have the ultimate headlight system, until I can't see with it the following autumn.)

So I'm forced by circumstances into separate clear and sunny glasses.
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Old 03-13-11, 08:31 AM   #23
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My distance vision is good enough to not need correction, though I can't tell the difference between, for example, a goat and a dog at 1/4 mile, but when it's close enough to matter I can.
As a beagle, I'm sure distinguishing between a goat and a dog is even more important to you than it is to the rest of us.
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Old 03-13-11, 10:23 AM   #24
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I stick with bifocals. I have no issue reading or seeing the cyclometer. If I read for a long time and especially small print or for viewing the pc or even working under the car at a certain distance, I'll use a cheap set of reading glasses. That is better for me than having to maintain a certain head orientation to use the bifocal.

You just figure out what diopter you need and go to Sam's and buy a package of 4 or 5 (for like $20.00(?)) and place them at strategic locations.

I would assume that with progressives, you'll do a lot of head-nodding to get the right distance. I would not like that.

I had a similiar situation when got talked into photochromic as better than sliced bread. The problem was they don't darken in the car (glass blocks UV) and by the time you walk across the parking lot and enter a store they are dark, and stay that way while you shop and then are light again as you get back to the parking lot to walk to your car.

When I got ride of them, even the lab tech that talked me into it had given up on his.


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Old 03-13-11, 03:00 PM   #25
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I have lined tri-focal and progressive and switch back and forth between them all of the time. I like the progressive better when riding, but find no problem with either. Some people, however, can't make the adjustments. I think the only way to know is to try it and see. No pun intended.
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