What are digital lenses and do I need them?

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions on digital lenses. Questions like “What are they?” and “Should I get those?” So, since you already read my blog that compares these lenses to the difference between a suit off the rack and a tailored suit, here’s some more clarification. Let’s say you’re a typical Jon or Jane who wears glasses. Digital lenses, like UNITY lenses, help you see better because they are customized to you. Everyone’s eyes are different, and digital lenses use precise measurements to give you the best vision possible.

Remember the old days of tube televisions? Watching TV was fine…and then along came digital and HD TVs. Have you ever watched them side by side? Sure the old TV works and you can see your shows pretty well, but the new HD TVs are so clear it’s literally like you’re there. There’s just no going back to that old technology. Now, let’s apply that same logic to your eyeglasses. Regular lenses are fine and will do the job, but what if you could see better? Who wouldn’t want that?

That’s what digital lenses offer—crisper, clearer vision that is personalized to your eyes and your face. That’s pretty cool.

So the next time you go to your doctor for your annual eye exam, ask about digital UNITY lenses. Here’s a tip for progressive wearers: VSP members save up to 50% on digital UNITY progressive lenses. That’s a great deal and a great way to get more for your dollar.



  • Cozette says:

    I want these in Progressive Please

    • David C. says:

      Hi Cozette, talk with your eye doctor about UNITY PLxpression with Cascade Technology. These are digital progressive lenses. A blog is coming soon. -David, VSP

  • Ronald says:

    I will be interested in reading your blog on digital progressive lenses.

    Thanks, Ron

  • I would love to hear more on the digital’s. I have to wear bifocals with the line, how would it work with those? What kind of added price are we looking for these?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Phillip, your plan may have different costs for these lenses because they are not ones with the lines…but it really depends on your specific plan. However, as a VSP member, you can save up to 50% on UNITY lenses, including progressives: http://www.vsp.com/unity -David, VSP

  • Eric says:

    Is this only for glasses or is there some sort of Digital Contacts as well

  • Diana Sloan says:

    please let me know when the digital Unity lenses are available in bi-focal. thanks.

  • Alice says:

    Are CRIZAL lenses digital?

  • Douglas says:

    I’m a little confuse about a comparison of my current eye glass lenses and digital lenses. The article about these new lenses states that they are “personalized to my eyes and face.” I had the impression that all my previous lenses and frames were personalized to my eyesight and face. What is the unique “personalization” specific to the digital lenses?

    • David C. says:

      Douglas, that’s a fantastic question. Of course all lenses are made for your prescription. But new digital lenses take a number of factors into play to position your prescription in the presice location your eye needs it. For example, the curve of the lens in your frame, the position on your nose you wear your glasses as well as much more digitally precise measurements. It’s like getting a suit…it will be fine and work well of the rack, but you’ll look and feel better if it’s tailored to your body. I hope that helps. -David, VSP

  • Mark R says:

    But could you answer the question of “what are digital lenses?” The comparison provided is weak. The quality between an analog vs. digital TV is not really going to change. Eye sight is is not a static condition. It changes and fluctuates over time.

    Is “Digital Lenses” a misnomer? Is this instead a computerized (digital) vision testing system that returns a more accurate perscription? That is what seems to be implied by your post. I’m not hearing from you that there is any difference in the produced lenses. Would the term “Digital Exam” be more accurate?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Mark, the material is not different. You are correct that it is the extreme preciseness in the Rx process that creates a lens tailored to your eyes. That tailoring, though, does result in improved optics. We use the analogies to help people understand more easily because it’s a very technical and complex process behind the scenes. -David, VSP

  • Don McFarland says:

    This sounds extremely interesting, looking forward to the post on bifocals!

  • Jeanine says:

    Any idea when your writeup on progressive lenses will be coming out?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Jeanine, check back in the next week or so. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for it, so I’ll add it to the featured posts section. -David, VSP

  • Joe says:

    Do they make digital lenses in bifocal?

  • Beth says:

    Good info, thanks. I like the VSP newsletter. Our company started offering VSP vision coverage last year and it’s been a great benefit.

  • Richard says:

    My vision runs about 20X400. I want it corrected to 20X15. How do I go about it?

  • Vickie McKinney says:

    Please write soon on progressive lens. I have. Diabeti refinnophathy, my left eye is scarred from lasr and glasses are not correcting my vision well in that eye.Digital lenses may be the answer. Pleaec forward any info you may have. Thank you so very much.

    • David C. says:

      Hi Vickie, I hear loud and clear that we need to do that blog soon. Check back in the next week. Did you know photochromic lenses have been shown to be beneficial for people with diabetes? You may want to check into that as well.

  • Know Buddy says:

    Sounds like B.S. Glass is glass and plastic is plastic, and there’s nothing “digital” (binary) about either material! Just more endless marketroid mumbo-jumbo.

    • David C. says:

      Hi there. The raw material itself is not different; it’s how the material is made into your prescription. By digitally measuring and matching to your eyes and face, the prescription is placed exactly how your eyes need them to see their best. -David, VSP

      • Ruthie says:

        Cotton is cotton and polyester is polyester, but a tailored suit will fit much better than an off-the-rack affair. Digitally surfaced lenses are tailored to your needs using precise, additional measurements and specific lifestyle questions asked by your vision care provider. Each person’s vision systems are different and have different needs. Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones that can get by with no noticeable difference. That doesn’t mean the whole concept is invalid.

  • chris lofgren says:

    Looking for more information about digital progressive lenses.

  • Gary says:

    Thats cool

  • Linda Neely says:

    Why will my insurance pay on lined bifocals, but not progressive lenses?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Linda, each VSP plan is tailored to a company’s specifications. We can help you maximize your benefits and minimize your cost, but your HR team would be better equipped to answer why something is not covered by your plan.
      -David, VSP

  • lou soberanis says:

    I have had my vision exam and a prescription has been prescrive d for my condition. Will this prescription apply for UNITY lenses?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Lou, UNITY lenses are a way for you to save when getting your glasses. However, you would need to ask for them. They are available in a very wide range of prescriptions and your eye doctor would be able to provide more insight. -David, VSP

  • Edward Grivna says:

    My problem is neither distance or reading; its music–sheet music to be exact. I play trumpet, with a stand partner. I need to be looking toward the director, and have my music in focus, which is off to the side of me, and possibly three feet away. Reading glasses are focused in too close, and my distance vision is too far. Id be fine with single vision glasses for this one function, but can’t find a doctor willing to really listen to what my needs are. Any suggestions?

    • David C. says:

      Edward, that’s a great question. With many multi-focal lenses, you have to compromise near, intermediate or distance vision. With UNITY digital progressive lenses, such as the PLxpression lens, you should be able to see clearly at any distance–the conductor, the sheet music or reading material.

      -David, VSP

      • Cindi says:

        I don’t believe this is a good answer. If you google music glasses you will see that most musicians cannot use multifocal lenses at all. For example, when I play the piano, my sheet music and the keys are both about 22-24″ away, but I want to keep my head relatively still and just flick my eyes up and down between the music and the keys. You can’t do that with any type of bi-focal or progressive. Most musicians seem to get mid-range glasses and live with the conductor being blurry.

        • David C. says:

          Hi Cindi, with today’s lens technologies, there should be a lens solution for almost anything imaginable. There is in fact a stigma for progressive lenses within the musician community–and some of that is certainly understandable. Since everyone’s needs are unique, there isn’t a blanket solution. The good news is that today, lenses are more personalized than ever before and there is likely a solution that will benefit you. In order to find that solution, however, it’s important to be very clear with your eye doctor on the challenges you face with blurriness and what your daily activities are so that they are able to best match you to a lens. For instance, if you work at a computer a lot that would produce a different solution than staring at sheet music or having reading progressives. Other musicians rely heavily on peripheral vision so wider prescription fields may be necessary. I hope that is helpful. -David, VSP

  • Fritz Hacker says:

    Please step back and look at the headline for this article, then read the contents. “What are digital lenses?” As far as I can tell the question is never answered, they are equated to HD TV. It says that they are custom made to precise measurements. Does this mean that other contact lenses are NOT custom made and do NOT use precise measurements?
    What about, “Do do I need them?” Is this the answer? “Regular lenses are fine and will do the job, but what if you could see better? Who wouldn’t want that?”. Is it a “want” or a “need”?

    I am interested in learning more about his product but this article tells me nothing.

    • David C. says:

      Hi Fritz, good question and thanks for the feedback. Explaining digital lenses is easier to understand when using comparisons like in the article, based on feedback from readers. Digital lenses are customized to your eyes and how your glasses fit


      face. Non-digital lenses are definitely still precise, but it’s designed for more of a range of wearers rather that you specifically.
      -David, VSP

      • al says:

        I agree. How are they more customized? If the prescription is exactly the same then what exactly is the difference. Maybe my OD -5.75 and OS -6.00 is a different .00? I get confused easily when purchasing smart pills as well.

        • David C. says:

          Hi Al, digital lenses are different in two ways. Traditional lenses are ground with abrasives until they meet a specific prescription. They are accurate, but digital lenses are up to 6 times more precise because they are laser cut to your exact prescription. Additionally the measurements take for digital lenses optimize your prescription to help you see as well as possible. Traditional lenses do not take into account the frame and how it fits your face. Hope that helps. -David, VSP

  • Louis Dunn says:

    I do need bifocals but prefer the lined versus the progressive lenses. Have balance issues with making the gradual transition. Will that be possible with digital lenses?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Louis, digital lenses don’t have lined areas. However, a digital fit means it would be more customized to your eyes and would be much easier to adapt to than a traditional progressive. Stay tuned for the article. -David, VSP

  • Rob says:

    I got digital lenses the last time I got glasses. I had to return them and go back to regular. There was a code stamped into each lens that was too distracting every time I looked to one side. I could see a little blur where the code was stamped. It was not visible looking straight ahead, but the worst time was when driving and checking my mirrors it was right in the way.

    • David C. says:

      Hi Rob, I’m sorry to hear your experience was not positive. There should be no visual interference. Feel free to contact customer service with any further comments or concerns. -David, VSP

  • Glenn Harmon says:

    What is the price difference between digital and reg. lens

  • Judy says:

    Only for single vision or can I use them if I need bifocals? How do they compare in cost? Will watch for your next post…Thanks!

  • Patricia says:

    Can Digital Single Vision Lenses help someone with Cone/Rod Dystrophy?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Patricia, I would recommend talking with your eye doctor on which lenses would be most beneficial to you. In general, digital lenses are more tailored and would be able to provide clearer vision, but specialized lenses may be necessary depending on your specific situation. -David, VSP

  • Debbie Hendricks says:

    The info on the digital UNITY glasses sounds appealing, but is it only for single vision lenses?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Debbie, no! Digital lenses are available in progressive lenses as well. In fact, the benefits are the most dramatic with progressives because you don’t have to sacrifice vision at any distance. Stay tuned to a blog about this in the next week or so. -David from VSP

  • Darlene Story says:

    If you use the digital single vision lenses, do you still need the bi or multi-focal lenses? Thanks

    • David C. says:

      Hi Darlene, not exactly. Single vision lenses will only accommodate one prescription. The lenses will be more tailored to that one prescription, but you will not get the benefit of multi-focal lenses. The good things is that there are multi-focal digital lenses that can significantly improve your vision at all distances compared to other lenses. Check back in the next week for a post about digital progressive lenses. -David, VSP

  • charlotte says:

    Where do I go to purchase glasses

  • leona gabourie says:

    i have AMD dry, would digital UNITY help reading?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Leona. I would check with your eye doctor who would be able to make a recommendation based on your individual needs. In general, though, digital lenses do allow for more precise and tailored optics, but I couldn’t speak to your specific situation. -David, VSP

  • james simmons says:

    You said “I’ll be writing a blog on progressive lenses shortly. So stay tuned!” How soon is that expected to be?

  • malhon says:

    Can I get a digital / photochromic / high index / progressive lense

    • David C. says:

      Hi Malhon, yes you can. Photochromic is a lens treatment, just like anti-reflective. There are also high-index lenses. UNITY PLxpression with Cascade Technology is available in Trivex right now and additional high-index materials this summer. Learn more about saving with UNITY at http://www.vsp.com/unity. I’ll also be posting a blog about digital progressives in the next week. -David, VSP

  • Robert R. says:

    Can someone please elaborate on how the more accurate prescription is obtained? Other than the lens position on the face how is the exam better, I really would prefer if I have no input in the exam process. I seem to sabotage the results somehow and I am never happy with my glasses. I use both Kaiser and VSP but my prescriptions are always different.

    • David C. says:

      Hi Robert, great question. There are quite a few differences, but the main factor is that the lenses take additional measurements to make sure the lens is cut in the best possibly way for your eyes, your selected frame and how you wear that frame on your face. It’s like tailoring a suit to your body–the untailored suit will still fit, but the tailored suit will fit perfectly. As for your Rx, your Rx may be changing over time, but your eye doctor would better be able to explain the specifics for that. The exam itself is typically not different except for the end when you pick out glasses and additional measurements will be taken. If after a few days you’re finding your glasses don’t feel right, let your doctor know so they can troubleshoot with you. _david from VSP

  • researching contacts says:

    Can’t wait for your blog – that will be so cool!

  • Looking forward to your upcoming blog!

  • Marlene Cruz says:

    I heard that progressive are better than digital. I just order progressive and I was told that I have more of a peripheral vision with progressive lenses whatever that means. I notice the price was higher with progressive. I hate to be taken advantage but really what’s the difference between both.

    • David C. says:

      Hi Marlene, there are digital progressives that do offer more peripheral vision. However, not all progressives are digital, so I can’t be sure what you got. Progressives, whether they are digital or not, are always more expensive than single-vision lenses. -David, VSP

  • David B. says:

    Bear with my semantics, but how can the lenses be digital? There is no ones and zeros in the glass, no power to the lenses. Aren’t you just talking about reading the eye in more locations and then using that information to cut the lenses to meet those extra spots?

    • David C. says:

      That’s a great question, David. The difference is in how the lenses are processed. Traditional lenses are actually still ground using a milling tool. Digital lenses use lasers as guides and cutting tools like diamond blades to make the prescription more accurate and with less distortion. The machines do, in fact, usethe 1s and 0s to digitally map the prescription onto the lens blank. Another aspect with digital lenses are the digitally measured “position of wear” measurements that put the prescription in the optimal place for the best vision…it’s up to 6x more precise. -David, VSP

  • stephanie says:

    Hi. I have been “blessed” with a (& I really hope I’m spelling this right!) Pseudo ceribri? Basicly a fake tumor. I originally only had it in my right eye, but it’s spread to my left eye, and now the “digital lenses” come into play. I’ve been a school bus driver, this would’ve been 13 years. But eye dr. Wouldnt (of course) allow me to continue with my c d l class b license, that I worked extremely hard to get! I knew this day was coming, but once you hear the words no, or I can’t allow, I’m still in denial.

  • Joann says:

    I just got these new digital lenses . They have had to remake my glasses 3 times and reduce the strength of them as I am getting bad headaches from them. Has this happened to others am I not a good canitdate for these new lenses . I feel a pressure in my eye balls.

    • David C. says:

      Hi Joann, that is not typical at all. That is more common in general for first-time progressive wearers but is much less common with digital lenses. Your doctor would be able to best explain what is happening for your unique case, but it’s not common for the average prescription after a few days of adjusting. -David, VSP

    • Connie says:

      I have tried the digital lenses twice and both time my vision was blurry, I also had to have my lenses remade with the HI progressive lenses. Dr. said some people just can not adapt to the digital lenses

  • Matt says:

    My current pair of glasses is actually real glass. 2.5 years later they are barely scratched. My prescription is around -4 so with plastic there is a lot of chromatic aberration around the edges (look at those LED signs by the road, the colors separate). With glass, the whole lens has no distortion, even by the edges.

    • David C. says:

      Hi Matt, glass lenses do have their purpose but have largely fallen out of favor due to impact/shatter and injury concerns. Have you tried TRIVEX material lenses? TRIVEX is much thinner and lighter and although -4 is strong, it’s well within the common Rx range. TRIVEX should also help address the aberration (as compared to a polycorbonate lens that may have more distortion). -David, VSP

  • Chris says:

    It is time for me to get a new glasses, I see digital lens. My question is, is this a marketing ploy, to be able to charge more. I have read the post about making them, all mills now are computerized and have been a long time, from my experience they follow a set of cords, even the laser must have this cords to be accurate. The best I can tell from your blog is that we are not getting lens to our own measurement but mass produced ones. Is this true or are we be taken for a ride?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Chris, that’s a fair question. All mills are mechanical, but not necessarily computerized. Some are still made with little rotating dies that grind the lens down and these are not computerized machines. Digital lenses are the new standard for several years now and are made much more precisely than the old way. You’ll also notice they are thinner and lighter (depending on how strong your prescription is) because the digital lens mapping places your prescription on the lens puck in the best possible location to provide not only optimal vision but the thinnest and lightest finished lens. -David, VSP

  • Elizabeth Litton says:

    When my eye doctor took measurements for my eyeglasses, they were done the same as all previous eyeglasses – no special measurements or digital machines for the Unity Progressive Lenses. Was the eye doctor supposed to be using some digital reader (device) to order my new Unity Lenses?

    • David C. says:

      Hi Elizabeth, each practice has their own way of measuring. Most measurements can be done manually but with the very high-end lenses, the digital measurements are required to accommodate the frame position. Unless you have a very complex prescription, this may not have been necessary. Plus, a lot of the digital positioning will be done at the lab where we’ll take your prescription and map it onto the UNITY lenses to ensure the best possible optics. – David, VSP

  • Bob says:

    Why do my friends that work in an eye glass lab tell me that digital lenses are nothing but a to off.

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