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Types of Optical Lenses

03/12/2014

The number of different eye conditions in existence often seems staggering, and you may have a difficult time knowing what optical lenses suit your eye care needs best. Anyone experiencing eyestrain or vision problems should see an eye doctor for more information. In most cases, the optometrist will prescribe reading, single vision or multifocal lenses.

Reading Glasses
Many people, especially over the age of 40, have some level of difficulty with reading and close vision. People with presbyopia, a condition causing a hardening of the lens inside the eye and a weakening of eye muscles, have increased difficulty focusing on close objects. If the eye has no astigmatism, store-bought reading eyeglasses, available in various magnification strengths, typically work. Patients with astigmatism should consider obtaining prescription reading glasses from their optometrist.

Single Vision Glasses
Most people with eye problems require single vision glasses. Nearsightedness, or myopia, causes difficulty focusing on objects at a distance. Farsightedness, or hyperopia, causes difficulty focusing on nearby objects. These conditions typically develop due to problems with the shape of the eyeball or the shape of the lens. If no other problems exist, you will likely only need single vision glasses. Both lenses in a pair of glasses adjust the focal point of light, placing it on the correct part of the eye and effectively correcting the condition.

Multifocal Glasses
Individuals who experience problems with both distance and up-close vision, particularly those in their late 40s or older who had single vision glasses earlier in life, may need multifocal lenses. Age naturally brings presbyopia, making reading text at a close range difficult. People without prior eye conditions usually only need reading glasses, but those with other conditions, like nearsightedness or farsightedness, already have other prescription needs. Bifocals lenses use a standard prescription but include a small patch at the bottom of the lens for the purpose of treating presbyopia and making it easier to read. Additionally, newer progressive lenses eliminate the defined line between prescriptions within a lens, creating a gradual blend that many patients prefer.

Light Protection
The right pair of optical lenses helps protect the eyes from sun damage. Those without prescription needs should consider buying sunglasses for a basic level of protection. Polarized sunglasses contain special lenses that reduce glare and block out UV rays, while non-polarized sunglasses only decrease the intensity of light. Those with eye conditions requiring prescription lenses also need protection against the sun's rays. In many cases, you can order clip-on or magnetic sunglasses that attach to prescription frames. In other instances, an individual may prefer transition lenses that remain clear indoors but darken when exposed to UV light.