Progressive Lenses for Amblyopia – Is It a Good Idea?


In this article, we talk about the results when one eye has less visual acuity (amblyopia) or both in combination with progressive lenses. After you read this article you will know under which condition it makes sense to use progressives and when to stay away from them and consider other alternatives to correct your vision in the distance and for reading.

First, we should know about the different stages when it comes to amblyopia. Keep in mind you need a visual acuity of approximately 6/12 to be able to read a printed journal. This, of course, is dependable on the illumination around you.

  • “Mild” amblyopia is often classified as being visual acuity of 6/9 to 6/12
  • “Moderate” amblyopia is often classified as being visual acuity of 6/12 to 6/36
  • “Severe” amblyopia is often classified as being visual acuity of worse than 6/36.

With mild amblyopia your visual acuity is sufficient enough to use progressive lenses and benefit from reading support in the lower half of the lenses. You will be able to read and get better distance vision out of them.

Depending on your eye’s individual condition it might make sense to add a lamp that emits daylight (5000-6500K) to be able to read easier. Especially when it comes to small texts.

The ability to read with progressive lenses will diminish with a reduced visual acuity as it comes to “moderate” amblyopia. In this stage, you will probably have a hard time reading even with the perfect illumination. What helps here is to use a shorter reading distance and more magnification to enable you to read printed journals.

But in most cases, it is not a good idea to decrease the reading distance with progressive lenses because of the smaller field of view you will have with more reading power. A separate pair of reading glasses would be the recommendation here. But only if you need to read with your amblyopic eye.

If you have one eye that has a higher visual acuity this will do the job Your brain will switch automatically to your better eye.

With severe amblyopia, you will not be able to read with your progressive lenses. The visual acuity just is not high enough.

When to Choose Progressive Lenses With Amblyopia

If your dominant eye has normal visual acuity and you would like to have progressive lenses it makes sense to use progressives for both eyes. Even if your amblyopic eye has a harder time reading or is not able to read.

The reason is deviations in the whole picture. Progressives always bring deviations with them which are calculated to be synched for both eyes as good as technically possible. If you would place one progressive lens in front of your dominant eye and one single vision lens on your amblyopic eye the perception headaches and double vision would be more likely.

When to Not Choose Progressives

If the condition in your dominant eye is worse and you are not able to read with your progressive lenses my recommendation changes to two pairs of single vision glasses. The reason is if you can not read with progressives what is the point in wearing them?

You will get drawbacks only like a blurry lower half of the lenses when walking, the shape of the stairs could be altered a bit and statistics show the likelihood of falls in the elderly will be higher like in this study.

What Are the Alternatives When Progressive Glasses Do Not Work?

Depending on your eye’s individual condition the answers will be very different. If you experience a loss in visual acuity in both eyes my list of considerations would look like this to test what works best for you.

  • Magnifying Glasses
  • Kepler Systems
  • Digital Magnifiers

Normal magnifying glasses could help you to read smaller texts. It is good for people that want an easy solution and do not have to deal with something on their glasses to adjust it to be able to read. However, the drawback here is the restricted reading distance. In most cases, you need to hold the text fairly close to your eyes which feels unnatural to most people.

One alternative to normal glasses is a Kepler system. It is basically a little telescope (usually permanently) mounted on your glasses. You will get a good magnifying effect out of it and the good part here is you will be flexible when it comes to the reading distance.

You can adjust this system with a rotation to the desired distance and then read the text. This works from a fairly close distance to objects far away. The drawback here is the restricted field of view.

But we have several customers who really like those systems.

The last thing I want to mention are things like e-Sight. This is an electronic magnifying device and I recommend this device to people especially when they are younger. Most elderly have problems when the solution becomes tech-heavy. But here in the video below, you can see how it works.

Those digitally magnifying devices come in different shapes. Here you can see the displays are setup in a frame to wear them over your glasses.

However, if you do not want this there are alternatives to this like handhelds. One example of this is a visolux DIGITAL XL FHD from Eschenbach (affiliate Link). The drawback however is you can use this only for the reading distance.

Although the latter part of this article shows you products that have nothing to to with progressive lenses they serve the same purpose. The< correct your vision in a certain distance. And with e-Sight or Kepler Systems, you are able to choose the distance you want to read in just as you would do with progressives.

I hope you found the information you were looking for in this article.

I wish you a great day.

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