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Progressive lense manufacturers - which are best?
There are several manufacturers of progressive lenses: Essilor (Varilux), Zeiss, Sola, Nikon and others. Which are the best in terms of quality and what are some of the differences between them that need to be taken into consideration?

zeiss are considered the best at lens manufacturing and once you have worn a zeiss varifocal you should stick with them.Zeiss have a unique disign called horizontal symmetry to reduce distortion. But they are expensive. Essilor varilux comfort are also good but the design of the comfort has not really been updated in the past 10years.

With all varifocals you get pheriphal distortion, but some designs have less, varilux panamic is one

Speak to your optician and get their recommendation.

Specsavers do many different types, own branded and branded

Best of the best on the market now is the Essilor Varilux Physio 360 and an identical lens marketed at walmart under the Nikon Customized name, also made by Essilor, but much cheaper. Typically, the less you spend on your lenses, the Narrower your reading area will be, in addition to more peripheral distortion.

C'mon Seenotes...you of all people should know that price has nothing to do with getting a wider reading area.

The widest reading area of any progressive is the Sola VIP...it has been around for 25 years, and is still an excellent lens, but works best with small corrections for the distance. It is good for those who wear progressives mainly for reading.

Every lens manufacturer will agree that the VIP is the widest reading...but we also know, the wider the reading area, the more distortion at the outer edges for distance. So it isn't good for all Rx's. The VIP is a mid range as far as price goes.

Paying more won't give wider reading...that isn't true at all.

There are many brands, but not any one lens is best for everybody.

I use the Percepta by Sola for higher Rx's, along with the Rodenstock Life2....depending on the maximum height I can get in the frame. Their 1.6 lenses work perfectly everytime.

For those who require a wider intermediate corridor, the "Sola One" does an excellent job....but not as good for those who do more close work...so all lenses have their advantages and disadvantages.

The newest technologies are the Free Form lenses...custom made...but they only have an advantage in Rx's over +/- 4.00

The curvatures are corrected at 1000 points by computer rather than using the manufacturers preset base curve....so distance vision is 99% distortion free at the edges...but only works in higher Rx's...they are also known as High Definition.

I have been fitting progressives for 38 years...and I can assure you...there isn't one brand that outshines all others.

Most of the time for the last few years, because of small frames, the brand is chosen because of the seg height available....

I fit an average of 40 progressives a month, and had only 5 in all of 2007 that had to be redone because the patient wasn't happy with the performance of the lens.

Fancy brand names and higher prices do not mean a better lens in most cases. Just more hype.

If your optician has lots of experience with them , he will know what is best for you.

There isn't any one lens brand that does it best.

Precise measurements , taking into consideration how the frame fits because of a higher or lower bridge...how close the frame can be fit in front of the eyes...deep set eyes....ect...are all very important in the success rate.

Those who go " by the book" for measuring the heights of the seg , often have problems.

I would venture to say 90% of the problems people have with them are because of bad measurements...not the brand.

There are many brands the patients have never heard of, because they aren't associated with cameras like Nikon and Zeiss...but function just as well...for a lot less.

Sister Sister Dee
Wow, you really asked a tough one--there's not one answer even though you've hit on a topic sure to get opticians defending the lenses we each prefer to dispense. Ask twenty opticians, get twenty answers. We all have favorite lenses. I'm still put in my two cents, though.

Experienced opticians are more likely to have a higher rate of satisfied patients though I think many of us buy into the lens manufacturers' spin on these lenses to some extent because of lack of side-by-side scientific comparison.
When I worked at a chain store which dispensed the lower-cost, older-technology progressives as their default lenses, we had a certain percentage of patients who did not adapt to these lenses. I now work with opticians who dispense premium lenses as their default lenses. The number of patients with problems adapting decreased sharply.

I also know that the opticians with whom I now work are more skilled at choosing the correct lens and getting the correct fitting than the people with whom I used to work. This may be the biggest reason for the lower adaption rate.

There is, however, a real difference in lens technology. I don't think I'd choose any manufacturer as being the "best" for everyone. Many people with low prescriptions do very well with the older technology of the Sola VIP or the Varilux Comfort. If you have much prescription, though, I'd definitely recommend going to a much newer-technology lens and nearly every manufacturer has them.

Varilux Comfort is still one of the best-selling lenses in the country, even though they hadn't changed the technology in many years. (They have just recently changed to the Comfort 360, which is supposed to be better.) If I were to recommend a Varilux for most patients, I would recommend the Physio (not the Physio 360.) Buying a free-form lens like the 360 is more expensive than the regular Physio and is only more beneficial with a very limited number of patients (like highly astigmatic patients.) I was never a fan of the Comfort but have had excellent success with the Physio and the Panamic.

Sola--I understand the SolaOne is pretty good--I rarely use a Sola lens, but I'd definitely use the SolaOne over the VIP or the XL. Why use the same old thing that's been around for many years if there is something better?

I also like Rodenstock's Life2, Zeiss's Gradal Top (I haven't used their newer GT2.)

If you have an unusual Rx or a history of difficulty adapting, you probably want to consider a premium lens, even though they usually cost more.


You probably had no idea you were gonna get this much info--the best thing to do is to find an optician you trust and take the advice you get. Ask a lot of progressive lens wearers in your area about their glasses--ask if they like them and if they have problems with them. Pick the place with the happiest patients!

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