Progressive Glasses and Neck Pain [How to Avoid It]

Most people don´t consider that your progressive glasses can correlate with neck pain if used incorrectly.

In this article, we tell you which progressive glasses you could use, and when it is time for a change within your visual aid. Progressive glasses in themselves have all the prescriptions from the distance to the computer to read at close range. Right? Right.

But that does not mean daily progressive glasses are perfect for each one of those distances. Normal daily progressive glasses whether they are the standard ones or premium ones are manufactured in a way that lets you focus in the distance while your neck and chin hold a (for you) natural position.

Why Progressive Glasses Can Cause Neck Pain

Most of the time we are not looking into the distance anymore. As strange as it sounds but it is true. Our daily activities are looking as follows. Sitting in rooms and working in a close range. Of course, we go outside but most of the people most of the time are staring at screens. We just switch devices during the day. But all of it happens in a close range.

The picture shows the different usage of devices. this can effect the posture and cause neck pain with the wrong glasses.
Source: Paillé, D., Impact of new digital technologies on posture, Points de Vue, International Review of Ophthalmic Optics, N72, Autumn 2015

Depending on the progressive glasses you use. You are using just a really small area of your progressive glasses for most hours of your day to see sharp in the close range. Just look at the picture of a progressive lens. you can only use the green yellow and red marked areas. Only in this area, you have the support for reading at close range. The blue colored area is made for the distance only.

That leads to unnatural positions you need to hold to read on the screen while are using a PC. Think about it and look at the picture below. The areas for you to use during PC work are placed in the lower third of the progressive lens. If you want to be able to use this area you either need to look down on a laptop or you need to lift up your chin and hold this position for an extended amount of time to see the monitor sharp which can cause neck pain.

The picture shows the different sharp areas and why a daily progressive lens is not a good choice and could lead to neck pain.

How to Avoid Neck Pain If You Are Using Progressive Glasses

As we mentioned before one of the reasons for neck pain can be the very restricted areas you can use for working on a PC. The easy solution is glasses that are specifically made for your workspace environment. Compared to a normal progressive lens you get 10x the area for sharp reading in a head and neck position that is natural for you.

The picture shows computer glasses. In this case, you still get a progressive lens but the areas for reading and PC are huge compared to normal daily progressive glasses.

To get the most out of your reading glasses it is really important for your optician or optometrist to know about your distances in your working space. Be prepared before your next eye exam and have those distances measured. With this data, you don´t have to guess how far away your monitor sits on your desk. Because a slightly altered distance could lead to another prescription. Especially if you are 50 years and older. The reason is that your eyes cannot adjust to the reading in close range anymore. The glasses need to do this task now for you.

Avoid Neck Pain by Switching to These Glasses/Contacts

  • single-vision reading glasses
  • computer glasses (which can be special progressive glasses or single vision lenses)
  • bifocal glasses customized for your workspace
  • multifocal contact lenses

These solutions oftentimes provide the fix for shoulder and neck pain. Because they don´t force you to hold your chin unnaturally high or force you to look through a tiny canal as daily progressives glasses do. Compared to progressive glasses, multifocal contact lenses give you a lot more opportunities to look around as naturally as possible. If you oftentimes need to look up because you need to read something that is a lot higher than you written on a shelf you can just do that with contact lenses. Most of the glasses you can get won´t give you a lot of distance and let you read above your head. That is why I said earlier in this article. Measure the distances you definitely need and show them to your optometrist.

This picture shows you wrong head positions caused by the wrong glasses during computer work that can cause neck pain.

Measure these distances and answer the questions to avoid neck pain with your next visual aid:
(All distances should be measured while you sit in a comfortable position)

  • How far away is your screen?
  • How many screens do you use?
  • Which devices do you use commonly? (Ipads, PC Screens, and Laptops are all somehow near, but oftentimes each on needs another power)
  • Is there something of importance behind the screen? (If yes in which distance)
  • Do you need to walk around in your workspace?
  • What glasses, contact lenses do you use daily and how do they work for you?
  • Do you need to switch workspaces? (If so measure the distances in both rooms)

What Has the Antireflective Coating to Do with Neck Pain?

It is all about the symmetry you can work in. Anti-reflective coatings don´t only let you look more natural by making the lenses more transparent. They also prevent irritating mirror-like effects. You can see this effect in the picture down below.

Oftentimes we are exposed to various light sources that can be reflected from our lenses into our eyes. First, try to position the lamps in your workspace so they do not bother you. Second, make sure you use an anti-reflective coating. If you look around in your office you will constantly have something that´s mirrored by the lenses.

In those cases people 80 % are aware of these effects and 50% of those people feel bugged. What happens is 49% deposition their head or 28% entirely take off the glasses to get rid of the glare. So they force their heads and neck in an unnatural position again which we wanted to avoid with the new workspace glasses.

You are using those glasses for a few hours a day. Forcing your body for an extended time in an unnatural position will probably cause neck pain. So don´t think you save a few pennies while buying although you are paying with pain and a shorter concentration span all day every day because you are not using ideal lenses.

As if problems in the body in many cases neck pain can come from different causes or a combination of them. Always check back with your doctor especially if you are experiencing neck pain for an extended amount of time. I recommend getting your vision checked once a year. Maybe you are using your glasses correctly and you bought the right lens design but in the meantime, they just need to be updated to your new prescription.

Get you some good glasses and plow through the work while your vision and neck stay relaxed.

I hope you found something important to you in this article. Thank you for your time.

Best regards

Michael Penczek

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