The Evolution of Lens Technology

lens technology

Lens Technology From Ben Franklin to Digital Surfacing

There have been many advances in lens technology since Ben Franklin glued the bottom half of his reading glasses to the top half of his riding glasses to create the world’s first bifocal. Such “multifocal” lenses have become quite sophisticated in the last 200 years or so.  While progressive addition lenses (sometimes referred to as “no-line bifocals” or just simply “progressives”) have been widely available since the 1980s, improved materials and designs have made them more and more reliable for people who want distance and near-vision correction in a single lens.  The most recent breakthrough has revolutionized the manner in which your prescription is imparted to the lenses—known as the surfacing process—resulting in new “digital” lenses that offer the most personalized multifocal experience ever.


Truly Customized Lenses


During the course of a typical visit to our office, our doctors and staff generate many different measurements that are used to produce the complete pair of eyewear that helps you see your best.  In the exam room, the optometrist figures out the objective vision correction that would get you as close to 20/20 as possible.

But the measuring doesn’t stop there: in order to make a successful progressive lens, we must also figure out the distance between your nose and your pupil, your pupil and the bottom of the frame, as well as the space between the frame and your face. Accounting for the unique characteristics of your face, the style of eyewear you choose and the particular manner in which you personally wear the frame are just as important as getting your prescription right when it comes to progressive lenses.

In the traditional surfacing process, there are a finite number of options for the curve and prescription of the finished lens. While a very large majority of combinations are accounted for, the process is essentially a matter of going down your list of measurements and finding the best fit for each between the two closest options. With digital surfacing lens technology, there are an infinite amount of possibilities for the finished product.  All lenses start from the same blank slate, and your measurements are combined and run through a variety of mathematical algorithms that spit out a lens design that is truly customized just for you.


Sharper Vision, Thinner Lenses


This difference is most obvious at the extremes, as when dealing with very strong prescriptions or highly curved wraparound sunwear. But even your average progressive lens wearer is likely to experience better peripheral vision and cleaner, clearer optics with a digitally surfaced product.  The sophisticated process also allows lenses of all prescriptions—even single vision—to continue to get thinner and more lightweight. Our experienced opticians are highly trained to guide you through the myriad lens technology options available and help you find the best solution to fit your vision needs and lifestyle.