Choosing the Right Progressive Lenses - The Science Behind Glasses

This post is sponsored by Essilor of America, Inc.
9 min read

Progressive lenses are a common commodity in the ophthalmic world. Do you ever wonder what technology goes into developing progressive lenses?

Choosing the Right Progressive Lenses - The Science Behind Glasses
This is a sponsored post by Essilor of America, a supporter of CovalentCareers & new graduate optometrists!

Almost all of my patients think there is only one type of progressive lens.

As doctors, we know that we have many different types of progressive lenses at our disposal, sometimes making it difficult to recommend the right one to our patients.
You can only imagine then how confusing it can be in the eyes of our patients or consumers!
  • What is the difference?
  • Why do I need that one?
  • Does it really matter which one I choose?
  • Why does that one cost so much more?
These are all questions my patients ask me when I recommend a progressive lens to them. We owe it to our patients to be able to answer these questions and advise them on the best progressive lens option for them.
Here is the science behind Essilor’s progressive lens options, why I recommend their lenses to my patients, and why I choose specific designs over others.

Common Issues With Progressive Lenses

We have all had those patients that struggle with adaptation to progressive lenses.
Some of the barriers to acceptance have included the common complaints of:
  • Swim,” or things seem distorted and blurry when making head movements
  • Having trouble transitioning from distance to reading
  • Poor vision in dim lighting
Historically, we’ve approached progressive lenses as if the eyes were separated from each other as a monocular system in how we took measurements and designed lenses.1

We looked at patients as having a visual system consisting of two separate individual eyes, instead of a pair of eyes working together!

Now we have the chance to do so as technology has improved much more since then! This technology in progressive lenses is abundant within Essilor’s Varilux S Series.™️

These lenses utilize three specific technologies to achieve binocularity (both eyes working together) in progressive lenses which improves vision as well as comfort, and eliminates many of the common complaints mentioned above.

Benefits of binocular vision and integration of information from both eyes includes: improved vision, contrast sensitivity, and depth perception.1

The Varilux S Series™️ Progressive Lenses

These lenses utilize three really cool technologies, that are leaps and bounds better than those “old” progressive lenses we’ve had available to us in the past!
Nanoptix Technology™️: Compared to other premium progressive lenses, this helps us eliminate “swim.” Swim is the result of change in power secondary to change in curvature. This change in curvature is what has traditionally provided a continuous increase in power to give presbyopic patients clear vision at varying distances. As we change curvature, we create distortion which results in straight lines looking curved.3,4
Nanoptix Technology™️ mitigates this phenomenon by reengineering the shape of the lenses by considering them as a set of many optical elements.1,2
SynchronEyes Technology™️: Optimizes binocular visual fields by integrating prescription data from both eyes into each lens.1
4D Technology™️: Ensures the sharpest vision in the leading dominant eye™️, which is the eye that leads the other in motor and perceptual tasks.6 This technology enhances overall visual response time by optimizing vision in the leading dominant eye™️.1,5

Dr. Chirumbolo’s Tip: The Varilux S Series™️ progressive lenses are always the first lenses I recommend to existing and new progressive lens wearers. I’ve received nothing but positive feedback from patients regarding these lenses. In addition, new progressive lens wearers have an extremely easy time adapting and getting used to them. These lenses are also perfect for patients that generally complain or have complained that they feel off balance when wearing progressive lenses.

Varilux® Physio® Progressive Lenses

How many times do your patients complain that they can only see if they are in very bright light conditions?
Instead of telling them to walk around with a portable lamp or flashlight, you can recommend Varilux® Physio® Progressive Lenses.
Poor vision in low light is common in older progressive lens designs because the pupil dilates in dark conditions, which causes more scattering of the light and aberrations when the light enters the eye through the lens.7
To help solve this issue, Essilor developed technology based off of data from thousands of eyes to predict how changes in pupil size would affect quality of vision.7
Stemming from this was their patented W.A.V.E. Technology™️; or Wavefront Advanced Vision Enhancement™️, that corrects lens aberrations, to optimize optical quality and deliver sharp vision particularly in low light conditions.
Varilux Physio lenses feature all the benefits of Varilux Comfort® progressive lenses, plus the exclusive Binocular Booster. Binocular Booster technology enables the eyes to work better together as a team.

Dr. Chirumbolo’s Tip: These lenses are great at providing sharper vision in low light conditions, as well as allowing for a smoother transition from distance to near.

Varilux Comfort® Progressive Lenses

Varilux Comfort® progressive lenses also feature W.A.V.E. Technology: Wavefront Advanced Vision Enhancement™.
Varilux Comfort® is another good lens option for progressive lens wearers. These particular progressive lenses offer three major advantages8,9:
  1. Allows for better transition and access to near vision.
  2. Widened distance and near zones for increased visual comfort. This allows for easy access to peripheral vision.
  3. Reduced astigmatism in the intermediate zone which helps reduce swim.
These factors all help increase and speed up adaptation.8,9
These lenses were designed using particular science-driven technology. A portion of the design process involved assessing vision in a dynamic environment. Part of Essilor’s proprietary Live Optics™ process, Body Head Eye Movement (BoHEM) technology enables researchers to examine how certain visual stimuli influence how lens wearers move their heads, bodies, and eyes. This provided valuable information such as the how much we rely on peripheral vision when using our mobile phones.8,9
These lenses were designed and provide excellent vision for the average wearer. A large part of the success of these lenses is that they allow the user’s eyes to traverse the different lens zones quickly without compromise in vision. As we know, this is vital in today’s technological age, as our visual demands have increased dramatically, and generally involve viewing an array of various computer, tablet, and mobile screens across complex environments.

DEFINITY® Progressive Lenses

This particular lens is perfect for your active patient, who enjoys the outdoors or playing sports. DEFINITY® uses patented DUAL ADD® 2.0 Technology, which results in a lens that dramatically mitigates distortion that many patients find cumbersome. This lens emulates a single vision lens as closely as possible, which helps improve adaptation, and provides clear vision at all distances.
DEFINITY® utilizes GROUND VIEW ADVANTAGE™ that more closely mimics natural vision. This design provides an additional zone of vision at the bottom and sides of the lenses, allowing for better vision when looking down at the ground, using the computer, driving, or engaging in visually demanding tasks found in active lifestyles.

Dr. Chirumbolo’s Tip: I’ll recommend DEFINITY® progressive lenses to my patients with very active lifestyles. This lens is great for those that play sports, or spend a lot of time outdoors. My patients using these lenses report clear and consistent vision at all distances, and tell me that at times they forget they are even wearing progressive lenses!

There is no single lens to solve the visual needs of every patient. The technology that goes into each lens is extremely meticulous and complex. Use your knowledge of this technology to the best of your ability when recommending lens options to your patients!


  1. Bullimore, Mark A., PhD, and Kirk L. Smick, OD. “The Varilux S Series™: SynchronEyes Technology™ — A Powerful, Innovative Approach to Binocular in Progressive Addition Lenses.” (2012): Print.
  2. “The Varilux S Series™: Nanoptix Technology™ — A Revolutionary Approach to Fundamental Progressive Addition Lens Structure.” (2012): Print.
  3. Le Grand Y. “La distorsion en optique lunetterie.” Annales d’optique oculaire. 1956 Jan.
  4. Simonet P, Bourdoncle B, Miege C. Central and static distortion in ophthalmic lenses. Vision Science and its Application: 1995; 1:31-4.
  5. Bullimore, Mark A., PhD, and Kirk L. Smick, OD. “The Varilux S SeriesTM: 4D Technology™ — The Next Level of Personalization: The Leading Dominant Eye™”2012: Print.
  6. Rice ML, Leske DA, Smestad CE, Holmes JM. “Results of ocular dominance testing depend on assessment method.” J AAPOS. 2008 Aug;12(4):365-9.
  7. James D. Colgain, OD. Varilux Physio EnhancedTM The First Progressive Lens Design to Use Pupil Size Modeling to Improve Vision in Low Light Conditions” (2010): Print.
  8. Essilor “Varilux Comfort® Technical Paper and Wearer Studies.”
  9. Essilor. “Varilux Comfort® – Wearer Study.”

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Antonio Chirumbolo, OD
About Antonio Chirumbolo, OD

Antonio Chirumbolo, OD is the Director of Client Services at CovalentCreative. He completed his optometry degree at the SUNY College of Optometry in 2013. Antonio is passionate about digital media, marketing, and advertising and in his free time still practices optometry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Antonio Chirumbolo, OD
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