Whenever we talk to a patient about moving on from a single vision lens to their first pair of progressives, the suggestion is generally met with a bit of apprehension. Everyone knows someone who has tried progressives and who couldn't stop talking about how much they disliked their progressives. Some of you have probably tried progressives and disliked your progressives. The reasons for disliking progressives are usually twofold. First, the optics can become distorted towards the edges of the lenses. This can create a bit of an uneasy or disorienting effect for the first few days a new progressive is worn. Second, properly using a progressive takes some practice. One must look through different portions of the lens based on the distance of the target they are trying to focus on. It can take days or even weeks before a new progressive wearer feels like they can effortlessly focus throughout the day with their new lenses. Fortunately, progressive technology is forever evolving. And in doing so, it's made the adaptation process for new progressive wearers much easier and the overall experience for seasoned progressive wearers much smoother.
A few years ago, we began prescribing Essilor brand lenses whenever possible. Essilor is constantly leading the pack when it comes to lens design and advancements in lens technology. Our go-to premium lens for the last few years has been Essilor's Varilux Physio Enhanced. We are now in the process of converting our premium choice to the Varilux Physio W3+.
The goal of a new progressive design is generally to improve or even eliminate the the above-mentioned complaints about progressive lenses. So the first goal is to minimize the peripheral distortion that has plagued progressive wearers from the beginning. The W3+ addresses peripheral distortion with dual sided optics. Basically, rather than having the add power, or reading power, concentrated on one side of the lens, it is split between the front and the back of the lens. This division allows for a wider corridor of clear vision, a larger "sweet spot" in the lens, and ultimately less peripheral distortion. This makes the adaptation process for new wearers much more comfortable. And even seasoned progressive wearers can appreciate a smoother, more comfortable progressive experience. Another technological advancement found in the W3+ is the Binocular Booster feature. The Binocular Booster factors in the prescription from the right eye and the prescription from the left eye and calculates how they will best work together, rather than treating the right and left lenses as individual units. This binocular calculation makes for an easier transition from distance to near, once again making the progressive experience more comfortable for both new and existing wearers.
The other new benefit of the W3+ is that it automatically comes with Essilor's Smart Blue Filter. This is the filter that I mentioned in the last newsletter about EyeZen lenses. Here's a refresher on why we are concerned about blue light in computer users...
A 2015 report from The Vision Council titled Hindsight is 20/20/20: Protect Your Eyes from Digital Devices, found that more than 90% of adults are at risk for digital eye strain, and that 73% are unaware of the potential dangers of blue light to the eyes. You may remember us mentioning the ongoing research into the potential risk that blue light from digital devices poses to our ocular health. Either way, let me elaborate on this potential concern.
We know for a fact that UV rays are damaging to the eyes. They can accelerate cataract development and contribute to macular degeneration. Well, right next to UV light on the spectrum is violet and blue light in the visible spectrum (think the BIV in ROY G BIV).
Research is now focusing on the potential harmful effects of short-wavelength blue light...light in the visible spectrum that is projected from computer screens and digital devices. They are trying to determine if staring at a screen throughout the day without a filter for short-wavelength blue light will ultimately increase an individual's risk for eye disease such as macular degeneration. Just as we know that a large amount of sun exposure without UV protection (sunglasses) increases the risk of developing macular degeneration. To complicate matters further, we also know that we do not want to block out all blue light from entering our eyes. There are actually helpful blue rays, longer blue wavelengths in the blue-turquoise spectrum, that contribute to a healthy sleep cycle and that boost our energy and elevate our mood. So when a blue light filter is developed, it needs to filter out the short-wavelength blue light while allowing the long-wavelength blue light to pass through the lens. That's exactly what the Smart Blue Filter does. It filters out approximately 20% of the short-wave blue light emitted from digital devices. No, it's not 100% blocking like we look for in a UV filter, but it's better than nothing at this point and they don't charge extra for the Smart Blue Filter.
So whether you're a potential new progressive wearer, previous progressive non-adapt, or just looking for a better overall visual experience with your progressives, ask for the Physio W3+ at your next eye exam. The dual optix design will provide a wider field of vision than almost any other progressive, and the Binocular Booster will ensure that your eyes smoothly transition from distance to intermediate to near. And if you're a big time computer user or digital device person, the Smart Blue Filter will add an extra layer of protection during screen time.