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This is why IT pros over 50 should switch their glasses to technology lenses

Progressive-based technology lenses can help aging eyes maintain clarity and comfort in the digital world.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer
glasses on a laptop
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The right eyewear can be a game-changer for IT professionals who spend their working life in front of screens. This realization hit me, a seasoned tech journalist and editor, during a recent visit to Anthony Czajkowski, a licensed optician and an eyewear industry veteran for more than 30 years with his optometry practice at the Omega Eye Center in Coral Springs, Florida.

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Like many tech professionals over 50, I struggled with clarity of vision when looking at my high-end, 27-inch monitors, even with a new pair of progressive lenses. When I asked Czajkowski to diagnose my issues with the new glasses, he introduced me to technology lenses and computer glasses optimized for reading distance from our screens. The experience was akin to upgrading a TV set from standard definition to 4K -- a huge improvement in clarity and detail.

It starts with progressive lens tech

Progressive lenses -- the basis for technology lenses -- have a rich history. In 1959, multifocal technology was revolutionized when French engineer Bernard Maitenaz invented the first progressive lens, the Varilux, and it was the first no-line bifocal of its kind. 

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But as Czajkowski notes, progressive lens tech "didn't become mainstream until probably at the end of the 80s." The initial lens quality of the Varilux was not that great. However, over the years, the lenses have evolved significantly. "The progressives today are much easier to use, you have far less distortion on your peripheral, and they're much better, " says Czajkowski. This improvement in design and functionality has made progressives a preferred choice for many people because the lenses offer a seamless and more natural visual experience than their predecessors.

One of the primary reasons individuals turn to progressive lenses is due to natural changes in vision associated with aging. Czajkowski explains: "Usually, it's an age-related phenomenon... you get to around the age of 40, and you start to need a little more help up close because that (eye) lens gets tighter and doesn't pull." This condition, known as presbyopia, affects almost everyone as they age, necessitating lenses that can accommodate weakening near vision while still providing clarity for distance.

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Progressive lenses offer a multifaceted solution to vision changes. Czajkowski elaborates on their versatility: "With progressive lenses, you can do the same thing; you can specialize... it gives you the vision up close, intermediate, and distance." This adaptability makes them an invaluable tool, especially for professionals in fields like IT, whose visual demands vary significantly -- from looking at a computer screen to viewing something at a distance.

So why a technology lens?

The transition to progressive-based technology lenses was a revelation during my extensive hours before the computer. As with my general-purpose glasses, these lenses are progressive, but with a vital distinction that Czajkowski notes: "Unlike traditional progressives designed for general use, technology lenses are tailored for about 14 inches, the typical screen distance." This means the focusing power starts earlier in the progression, a crucial aspect for those of us constantly at our screens.

This optimization is key. Regular bifocals and reading glasses just don't cut it for computer work, as Czajkowski explains: "If you want to give your eyes a real treat and take off some of the strain, you get computer glasses or a technology lens." This advice resonated with me; the conventional options often led to uncomfortable, strained postures, resulting in neck and shoulder discomfort.

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Technology lenses, however, address this discomfort head-on. They are crafted to alleviate strain by providing the right correction for the distance we most frequently use. Czajkowski underscores their ease of use: "With a technology lens, your head movements aren't going to be as extreme as they are in regular progressive." For someone like me, engaged in detailed tech work, this adjustment is not just about visual comfort, it's also about maintaining peak performance in an increasingly digital workspace.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety confirms this perspective, noting that these kinds of glasses are specifically designed for computer work. They focus at a screen distance, which is farther than normal reading material, offering clarity where it matters most. As a tech professional, particularly over 50, this is a matter of comfort and a necessity for sustained efficiency and effectiveness in my digital environment.

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Despite their significant benefits, many people are unaware of technology lenses. The common misconception that general progressive lenses or over-the-counter reading glasses are sufficient for all tasks leads to this oversight. As Czajkowski notes, "There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all pair of glasses," emphasizing the need for specialized solutions for specific tasks, such as prolonged screen use. This fact is especially true for IT professionals, whose visual demands can differ significantly from the average person's.

Choosing and acquiring the right pair

When choosing technology lenses, the focus should extend beyond the lens to include the frame. For extended screen time, comfort is paramount. The design should prioritize functionality and fit, not just style. As Czajkowski advises, "You don't want to go too small on these type of lenses." The right size and fit are essential to ensure maximum comfort and effectiveness.

Selecting the ideal pair of technology lenses requires expert guidance. "You absolutely want to go to a licensed optician," Czajkowski emphasizes. This professional input is crucial, as licensed opticians offer tailored solutions, unlike commercial chain stores that might prioritize sales over individual needs.

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The cost of technology lenses typically ranges between $400 and $600, varying with the necessary prescription strength and chosen frames. While this may seem steep for a secondary pair of glasses, the investment becomes justifiable considering the extensive hours spent in front of a computer -- anywhere from 30 to 60 hours a week. This expense is a small price to pay for the significant difference these lenses can make in your digital life.

A personal revelation

My personal journey to discovering technology lenses was a revelation. These lenses are more than just a visual aid; they are an essential tool for anyone who spends significant time in front of a computer. In the digital age, taking care of our eyes with the right eyewear is paramount. 

Czajkowski's parting wisdom resonates deeply with me: "The main optics piece of equipment you have is your eyes, not the screen." Technology lenses are not just an option, but a necessity for those of us immersed in the digital world.

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