Progressives and Neck Pain


I recently got a pair of progressives. But I didn’t ditch my prescription readers or my prescription computer glasses in favor of one pair that does it all. Here’s why.

About 15 years ago I began noticing a change in my close-up vision. Not unusual around the age of 40. I’ve had prescription reading glasses for quite a while now. And for many years the prescription has pretty much stayed the same.

I also have a pair of prescription computer glasses—single-lens glasses with a focal length the exact distance I like to have my monitor set away from my eyes. Naturally, this distance is a bit further than for my reading glasses. It’s often referred to as mid-range.

My distance vision is fine. A slight correction can make things a tiny bit sharper, but I don’t need the correction. I certainly don’t need glasses to drive for example.

My eye doc mentioned a year or so ago that if I ever wanted to try a pair of progressives to let her know. I wasn’t interested until recently when I got a new part-time job.

I’ve been working at an upscale women’s consignment boutique on the weekends. I like it because the shop is quite busy, and I get to do a wide variety of things. Working in the shop gives all my ranges of vision a workout—reading tags (close-up), checking people out at the register (mid-range) engaging with customers, and scanning the store (distance).

I brought my reading glasses the first day and tucked them in the front of my blouse when I wasn’t using them—only to have them repeatedly fall to the floor whenever I bent over to pick something up! So I got a cute lightweight chain to hang around my neck. They didn’t end up on the floor, but it was annoying to keep putting them on and taking them off. And then I didn’t have the right correction for the computer at the front desk.

So, I decided to give progressives a try and I’ve had my new glasses since late July. It’s taken a while to get used to them. Since I’ve not been used to wearing glasses—other than to work at the computer or read—at first I felt like an imposter! Would people recognize me? And it felt a bit like looking through a porthole on a ship 😊 But it’s been great for my stint at the boutique. And when I go out to a restaurant or go shopping.

But do I use them when I sit down to read my book (yes I still read the old-fashioned kind) or at the computer? Absolutely not!

With progressives, the size of the lens dedicated to close-up and mid-range distance is much smaller than if you have the entire lens at your disposal. So it can be quite tricky to get your head in just the right place so things are in focus. Especially at the computer, what often happens is that you tip your head back and hold it in that position to get the screen in focus. This is not the natural balance for the head and puts a lot of pressure on the back of your neck. In some cases, it may be causing headaches.

Even though I’m in the business of posture and I’ve got a pretty good sense of where my head is most of the time, I still won’t use the progressives to do computer work or reading.

I want all the real estate in my lens dedicated to the correct distance—whether that’s reading (close-up) or computer (mid-range). It allows me to move my head around as it gently balances on top of my spine and still have what I’m looking at in focus. The progressives are fine if I’m looking at something very briefly, like a tag on a piece of clothing or the menu in a restaurant.

My advice to you is to take care of your vision. Get a regular checkup for your eyes. And even though it may be annoying to have more than one pair of glasses, get the correct ones for the job and use them.

Your body will thank you for it.

Image by Irish 83 from Pixabay

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