What Are the Best Progressive Lenses for Driving?


After reading this article you will know what distinguishes a special progressive lens for driving from a normal progressive lens and what the benefits and tradeoffs are.

The main purpose of the progressive lens design for driving is to enhance your focus and the mid-distance where the instruments are located. Also if you want to use a navigation system a progressive lens for driving should deliver you a wide field of view in which you do not have to search the focus.

progressive lenses for driving vs normal progressive lenses shown

Notice I only mentioned two distances the distance and the mid-distance. The reading distance does not play a role when we want to get the best progressives for driving. Because if only the progressive lens has to hold the lens power for the mid-distance you will get a wider field of view.

The reason is the lesser reading power that is built in the lower half of the progressive lens design compared to normal progressives. This is great for driving but you can not read in the near distance with them. Those progressive lenses are solely made for driving. Here you have some exemples:

You will have an easy time adapting to those progressive lenses and they are all specially designed to meet the driver’s requirements. Even though the blurry fields of view are distributed in your favor progressive lenses for driving still have them. They are just not as dominant as in normal progressive lenses.

But this still means you need to point your nose into the direction you want to see cleary in. So looking at an instrument in the middle console might be odd in the beginning with your new glasses.

Which Coating to Choose With Your Progressive Lenses for Driving?

When it comes to driving with your progressive lenses the right coating can enhance your experience with your glasses a lot. Those coatings reduce glare from reflections on the lens surface. Usually a small reflection is left when the anti reflective coating is applied.

In a lot of cases when you buy progressive lenses with a special progressive lens design made for driving the coating is too optimized to reduce glare in situations drivers need the most support. Usually driving at night is the most stressful situation for drivers.

As headlights of cars send out rays in a certain wavelength the coating can block this wavelength and reduce stress for you. In theory this sounds great but the coatings abilities to block the the rays from headlights only works for one wavelength.

On the left you see a better performing anti reflective coating. On the right you can see an coating with worse performance.

So it is great to have a coating that reduces glare but headlights are not created equal for cars. This is why you will experience only very little if any reduction in glare with those coatings.

For example the Aquadura Vision Pro anti-reflective coating is in my opinion one of the best coatings I ever tested with progressive lenses and it is actually not even specifically made for driving.

I tested several coatings for driving with my progressive lenses and compared them. A reduction in glare is definitely there when we talk about the reflections on the lens surface on the lens surface facing your eyes. It is a mirroring effect on the periphery of the lens as I drove. But I did not get any reduction or less dazzling when driving at night and cars came towards me and I was facing their headlights.

There was no difference whatsoever in comparison from special coatings to normal coatings to driving without glasses as I do not have any prescription. So driving at night was always a little more stressful and headlights facing towards me were still stressful at times.

Which Frame to Choose for Driving With Progressive Lenses?

When it comes to choosing the frame for your progressive lenses for driving you should look at three things.

  1. The frame should be at least 35mm high
  2. The frame’s width should not be wider than you face
  3. The frame should sit as close to your eyes as possible

1. The Proper Height for the Frame

With progressive lenses for driving you to want to get the most space out of the lenses for distance vision and your dashboard as well. When you buy a bigger frame with a lens height of 35mm and above you can get both. But with a smaller frame, you will obviously minimize the field of view you will get for distance vision because of the restrictive size of the frame.

And when the frame is so small that the optician has to fit a shorter progressive lens design you will get a smaller mid-distance. Then you will be forced to perform more head movements as you focus on your dashboard. Of course depending on what instruments you have or how wide the screens are.

2. The Width of the Frame

Not only does a frame that is too wide not look good it could also produce an unnecessary amount of glare in the periphery of the lenses. Of course, the anti-reflective coating can reduce this glare but oftentimes not to an extent in which it is satisfying for the wearer if the chosen frame was too big in the first place.

If the frame is too big you could see mirror-like effects from the environment behind you.

3. Optimize your field of view with the perfect fit

Depending on how far away or how close the lenses sit in front of your eyes you will get a bigger field of view out of them. The closer they sit to your eyes the better for you.

All angles and distances in regards to the visual performance play a role in progressive lenses. If you want to get more information on how to optimize your progressives to the max here is an article on this topic.

Why You Should Never Leave Your Glasses in the Car?

Although when there are progressive lenses for driving and they are marketed this way you should not leave them in your car. The reason is the temperature in the summer. As soon as the sun starts to hit the car it can easily heat up to 131°F/55°C and more.

When the temperature rises this high the coatings on your lenses will develop little cracks over time. The reason is the lens material expands at another rate in comparison to its coatings applied to it. Those cracks will be more dominant over time. Depending on how bad the heat hit your lenses one time could be enough for the coating to have lasting damages.

I hope you enjoyed the information about progressive lenses for driving. Always keep in mind in this case those lenses can deliver superior visual performance in your car but they can not be used as a daily driver. Because of the missing lens power for close up reading.

However, despite the limits of progressive lenses they still seem to be ahead overall when it comes to driving compared to multifocal contacts and bifocal lenses. If you want to find out more here is a link to the study from Byoung Sun Chu.

I wish you a great day.

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