For those of us who are a little long in the tooth or to be a little less PC, “older”, we often get into health discussions with our peers.

We may talk of upcoming medical procedures, doctors who have no social skills, or our vision problems. One of the most common of these subjects is eyewear and the challenge of seeing things at different distances clearly.

This problem is often resolved by simply selecting the correct lens for our lifestyle. Your eye care professional is responsible for asking the right questions about your hobbies and work and home environment so lenses may be designed specifically for you.

Sometimes different lifestyles require more than one pair of glasses due to your particular needs.

All lenses have compromises and the optician should make clear (no pun intended) the positives and negatives of your selection so that you may make an informed decision.

The process of eyewear selection should be an educational one where the purchaser comes out of the experience knowing much more than when they went into the transaction. An informed consumer is a better consumer, and if the person who has the knowledge won’t share it with you, go elsewhere.

Bifocals and no-line (progressive) lenses are part of this issue where there are many choices and many compromises.

A “lined” bifocal lens has two sections for clear vision. The top of the bifocal lens is used for a specific distance, usually for TV and driving but sometimes set at the distance for a computer monitor. The bottom of the lens is also adjustable by the professional but is usually set to the reading distance of about 16 inches.

Although it’s a fairly simple design, it can be tweaked to do a lot of different tasks but only 2 tasks per lens please. If you use this lens for distance and reading, you will not see a computer monitor clearly.

A progressive lens is a very different device. There is a graduated change from the top of the lens (distance) to the reading section in the bottom. Think of it this way: if the line in a lined bifocal is a “step up” to the higher power of the reading area, then the change in a progressive lens from distance to reading is more like a ramp or slope.

Because of the design of this “variable” bifocal the reading area is about half as wide as a line bifocal, but you can see at any distance from reading – up close, to intermediate – the computer, to far away – TV and driving.

You will also notice that areas in your peripheral vision are not as clear as if you look straight ahead.

There are more than 400 choices of progressive lenses, with several great product lines to choose from by companies like Shamir, Hoya, Younger, and Essilor.

Make sure your eye care professional understands the differences in these products and can appropriately guide you into what is best for you.