My Progressive Lenses Make Me Feel Seasick. What’s Going On?

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When you get a brand new pair of glasses, you expect them to help you see better instantly. However, for those of you who wear progressive lenses, sometimes, just sometimes, that’s just not the case.

My progressive lenses make me feel seasick. What’s going on?

Progressive lenses are very complex. They take your distance prescription and gradually change to give you the full reading prescription down at the bottom of the lens. So, very small changes, from how the glasses sit on your face to the measurements the optician takes, can make a big difference on how you see. This can cause that seasickness feeling, also known as “swim.”

Nowadays, there’s new technology to help alleviate that swimming sensation. One example comes with digital progressives. “They give you a wider field of view, so as they change from your distance to your near, you’re not going to feel that kind of moving floor, or moving steps, as you walk down the stairs,” said Dr. Nichole Moos.

If you’re experiencing swim, talk to your eye doctor about new options out there with progressive lenses.

VSP members are eligible for a $35 mail-in rebate when they purchase Unity Progressive Lenses plus one of the following lens enhancements: Unity Performance Coating, TechShield Blue, or SunSync Light-Reactive Lenses!

57 Comments

  • Wendy Leibowitz says:

    I complained to my eye doctor about the dizziness and he shrugged and said, “You’ll get used to it.” I didn’t, and switched eye doctors. How terrible to spend good money on glasses that are supposed to help you see, but which make things infinitely worse.

    • Cynthia says:

      So sad that doctors treat their patients that way. It’s all about greed and money! (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13)

    • Bubba Gump says:

      Sadly that is what most will say.

    • Paul J Decker says:

      My doctor said the same thing. They didn’t make me dizzy but they just drove me up a wall with my lower peripheral vision always being out of focus.

    • Wendy says:

      My eye doctor said the same thing. I spent over $300 for glasses that I don’t wear. Never again. I’m going back to bi-focal lenses.

      • Kathryn says:

        yes i spent 500.00 on mine and i never wear them either. he talked me into them. they wont sell bifocals he said this is the new thing so this is what they sell. time for a new doctor

    • HJC says:

      I tried progressive lenses and they were terrible, They told me I would get used to them also. I gave them back the glasses, called VISA and disputed the charge because they wouldn’t refund my money. VISA got my money back and I never went back to that doctor.

      • Kathryn says:

        hmmm maybe i should do that.

      • Steve says:

        My vision just isn’t what it used to be after 45 so I went to the eye doctor expecting they’d give me glassed for about $100. They told me I was supposed to get something called a progressive and it was $500. I expected it to be the same as sunglasses, just clear up my vision but it was so disorienting I couldn’t work or even walk around my home. Only the very bottom was useful when reading but they sell +1.75 reading glasses at Pilot Travel Centers for $19. Only the top 25% of the glasses were clear and free from distortion, and only in the center. I couldn’t even drive, if I looked my eyes to the side when turning my head and changing lanes it was all blurry. I took them back the next day and got my money back. My natural vision was better than the experience. I had never worn glasses before and feel I got pushed into the most expensive option like at a car dealership.

        • Pepper says:

          This is me exactly!! I can see out the dead center of the glasses staring straight ahead but everywhere else is distorted. The very bottom helps me see small print, but day to day… everything is blurry. There’s no way I can drive with these on. If I move around, I get dizzy. I see much better with NO glasses!!

          • Billie says:

            This is me right now. I see out perfect dead center, but the slight turn of my head it is blurry. I was told to give it time. It’s like a fishbowl affect. I was told it’s because I have astigmatism

    • stacey k says:

      my original progressives made me dizzy for a month – went back to the dr – and they re-tested my vision and changed the prescription – they’re good now

    • Natalie says:

      My father had the same experience, no more progressives for him. I agree, vanity isn’t worth the trade-off. I’m fine if my bifocal lenses show.

    • Tony says:

      That happened once to me but my DR unlike yours acknowledged he forgot whats called a prism i my perscription. All was good after on correction.

  • Cynthia says:

    I paid a LOT of money for my glasses and cannot at this time afford change to one of the newer suggested types of lens enhancements, so what do I do NOW with my present pair so I don’t get that “swim” or seasickness feeling when I’m walking?

  • Janet Beaman says:

    I have progressive lenses because VSP will not pay for no line bifocals. Therefore, I don’t wear my glasses at work – and that includes working on the computer. I can’t see!! Why??? Because of the middle section! That middle transition gives me a headache, too. If I want glasses with no-line bifocals I will have to pay around $200. Which is what I am going to do…….the progressives are not for everyone!

    • Cheryl says:

      I wear tri-focals because of the need to see for reading, computer, and the back of the classroom. I have the lines, but who cares if you can see. I got VIOLENTLY ill with progressive…Never Again.

    • AH says:

      I know this discussion is almost 2 years old, but “progressive lenses” are the same thing as “no line bifocals”

  • Joyce says:

    That happened to me the first time I got progressive lenses. After two weeks and no “adjustment,” I went back to my optometrist. Turned out that the lab had set one of the levels at slightly above the correct place on the lens for my eyes. They re-did them free of charge and after that, no more ‘swim.’ So, if it’s still bugging you after 7-10 days, talk to your provider; it’s worth it!

  • JS says:

    I agree with Wendy. I’ve been through three pairs now and keep going back to my old glasses because I can’t stand the new ones. Now I know what to ask in looking for a new doctor. Thanks

  • Sandi Feller says:

    Does the varilux brand have digital progresses?

  • Mary Potvin says:

    I got new sunglasses and they did not work out for me and they redid them. I spent a lot of money on them and still have not been able to wear them. A big waste of money. Pearl Vision acted like it was nothing. I am very disappointed in them. Wish i had not got them. It was a bad experience for sure and a lot of money wasted

  • Jenene Kumbier says:

    I have tried progressive lenses. I believe the prescription wasn’t right. The patterns in floors would become psychedelic. That doctor had a terrible bedside manner. I went to another eye doctor, who gave me bifocals. The bifocal line looked to be 1/4 inch wide. So, I have spent lots of money, can’t wear the glasses, and keep wearing reading glasses I bought at Walmart.

  • Wendy J says:

    Welcome to my life! I’m going to talk to my eye dr at my next apt about new options.

  • A says:

    The assistant in my optometrist’s office actually suggested that I put my glasses on first thing when I wake up in the morning and that alleviated this “swim” issue. She was right on! Yeah for knowledgeable assistants! Sadly, they often don’t get the kudos or respect they deserve.

    • Holly says:

      I agree! When I got my first pair of bifocals, I chose the no-line progressives. When I first put them on, my optometrist’s assistant said to point my nose straight at whatever I am looking at and it would help me adjust to them. She was so right! I am now on my second pair and love them. Thanks, Jen!

    • Valerie Bethea says:

      Thanks. I’ll try that. I’m so nauseous I’m thinking about going back to blurry vision.

  • Venancio Ferriols says:

    when I drive into my garage with my glasses on, I find my car so far to the right that I almost take my side mirror off. Without my glasses I can center the car in the garage. Why?

  • John Curry says:

    I tried to use my new glasses and could not get past the seasick feeling. I put them in their case and in the drawer and continued to use my $20 reading glasses. Almost 2 years later, I tried them again and this time I continued to wear them all day even though there was some discomfort. I am happy to say that once I adjusted I never take them off except to sleep. They are great, I didn’t realize what I was missing with the distance vision and the convenience of being able to read everything. I probably need a new prescription now but love them and wish I had tried harder to adjust to them.

  • Mary Bugarin says:

    I have had that same comment said to me,you will get used to them, give it a couple of weeks.I have had new lenses put in at no charge. Why can’t they get it right???

  • K. Bechler says:

    That also happened to me my first time with no line trifocal lenses. I immediately asked to see my eye doctor. He found that the lens focal point measurements the assistant had taken were incorrect, and that is what was causing the swimming/dizziness. He apologized for the mistake and measured my eyes himself. He immediately had the glasses/lenses remade as a rush order. When the new glasses arrived all was well, and I walked out with totally usable eye glasses.

  • Dawn Sprout says:

    I just got new glasses and tried the progressive…made me so sick the instant I put them on. The Dr knew right away what the issue was…Prisms’. Some people who get motion sickness cannot handle the progressive lenses. I had to get a pair of glasses for reading and the computer, and another pair for distance. Once he had the prism added to my lenses…I had no further issues.

  • John says:

    Will definitely remember this next time around. Already had this pair made over once. Do all optometrists use this tech? Does the size of the frame matter?

  • Dean Hemmelgarn says:

    I have progressive daily wear glass’s and I did get use to them. My company forced me into getting their style of safety glass’s. I have progressives in them as well and I am having a real hard time adjusting. I’ve been getting the moving floor and nausea and when I put my daily’s on at the end of the day then I have to readjust to them. So in other words, not all glasses will work for progressives.

  • Robin J says:

    I couldn’t get used to the progressives, other than feeling sick, I had zero Peripheral vision. If you wear glasses ALL the time, I could see getting used to them, if the Peripheral vision wasn’t cut off. I changed Docs as well, he should never have sold
    them to me knowing that I only used them for driving, no chance in hocky sticks to get used to them.

  • SR says:

    I could get used to my first pair of progressives: when I did the crossword puzzle or read the paper the field of view that was not distorted was much to narrow from side-to-side so I had to keep turning my head to continue reading the line of a book, for example. I did some research and found there are different algorithms that can be used to create the specific progressive pattern in the lenses. So the optician redid them with a digital algorithm – like mentioned in this article, I believe – that prioritized mid-range vision AND I chose a bigger glasses frame and after an adjustment period have no problems. (Now the only problem I have is switching between my glasses and my mono-vision contacts!)

  • Anne says:

    I just bought digital progressives, and they definitely had the swim effect! The vertical change was no problem – from distance to close. The little card you read to test them out – I could see about half the line clearly, and had to move my head from left to right to be able to read a whole line in focus. And that gave me a LOT of swim – enough to seriously turn my stomach. I tried them for 3 days and it was so bad that I took them back. It was like a fun-house mirror lens. My eye doc is replacing them with bifocals. Thank you doc! I’ll never buy progressives again.

  • Olivia says:

    Progressive lenses are typically made of a composite which tends to cause distortion. I had my doctor order the standard plastic lenses for several years now and they work great. They sometimes need to drop the positioning a mm or two even with the digital face/size mapping. That mm or two makes all the difference in the world to getting the perfect fit. When the lenses are right, you know right away. And when they are not, they don’t get any better after you leave the office. Just gives you a headache or stomach ache and then you get really frustrated going back to your old lenses until you can get back to the doctor office. Bottom line, if they are not right in the office, don’t let them push you into walking away thinking time will solve the problem. They don’t want to take the time to have them remade and it inconveniences them. Don’t let them force that inconvenience on you.

    • Judy says:

      I agree, my optometrist on my first visit told me the same thing. If your glasses are not right when the first time you put them on, do not leave the office with them. They should be perfect the first time. You do not have to get use to them.

  • Barb H says:

    I couldn’t get used to bifocals but I had no problem at all with progressive.

  • DonM says:

    Why so many negatives? They have worked great for me for many years. Yes, getting used to them in the beginning is like anything else for the first time. If the swim problem on stairs is too much, then take them off going up and down the stairs.

  • My progressives are making me dizzy. It’s been a month. What should I do!

  • Bob W says:

    I’m having the same negative issues with new progressives and I chose a large frame so there should have been plenty of lens area for multi-focus to work. Im coming from having only needing reading glasses at about a 1.75 magnification to this point. My distance vision is fine. Has anyone tried the new Nikon progressives or Zeiss? Both advertise claims on improving the lens. (I have no affiliation with either Nikon or Zeiss). Costco also claims better progressives. Has anyone tried them? Like others, I’ve paid a lot of money and am not having improved vision or improved utility. Oddly, they are okay driving and then looking down at a map on my cell phone, back and forth, but any computer use or reading, I have to switch back to my reading glasses.

  • Robert says:

    I’m getting bifocal progressives for the first time, weak rx but I only had glasses for distance before, and now my right eye has gone farsighted and near vision is worse in that eye. My old glasses broke a while ago. I went to a new eye place this time. I also got plastic frames for the first time. I’m 44. Some of these complaints worry me. I wonder if I should have went with the standard bifocals. If progressives make you dizzy or certain areas of the lens distorted vision I might just complain and return them for regular bifocals. I could probably get used to regular bifocals. So regular bifocals have no distortion in the lenses, just magnification for near? My left eye will be -1.75 and right eye +.25 for distance. I get the new glasses next week.

  • Dianne says:

    Had my vision checked and got a new prescription. The first pair of progressives I still saw blurriness up close and blurriness far away. So he did another eye exam and spend a whole hour with me and they sent out the glasses again and when they came back I had the same problem. So now they’re sending me to an ophthalmologist instead to see what’s going on. My eye doctors disgusted with me and I’m not going back there

  • Marco says:

    The real problem with progressives is how they are advertised as a ” wonderful solution ” when in reality it does not work for 90% of the people that try them. You completely lose peripheral vision to the point where it can be Seriously Dangerous. No matter how many hours or weeks you put into them, you will NOT get a proper peripheral vision. When things are centered, yes you will see in focus, but the visual degree in which you see in focus is compromisingly very reduced, hence you are improving in a focus area, but albeit at the detriment of all peripheral areas. I find it gimmickyand literally even if its been around for about three decades, it is Still not perfected, and is still quite dangerous for many tasks. I feel like I was SCAMMED out of my money!!!

  • Sophie says:

    My eye doctor told me if the progressive did not work then she would write another prescription for my old pair eyeglasses I had before so I tried the progressive and hated it soooo bad it was making me crazy. So they did ir for FREE they reused the frames and they would change the lens for free changed my eyeglasses to my old eyeglasses were nut slightly stronger and hat worked out.
    Costco has the best prices hands down on frames

  • Liz Bird says:

    I have had two pairs of bifocals in my life — one pair over 15 years ago. I could never wear them because I fell off curbs, and fell up and down the stairs. I couldn’t read and I couldn’t work. They sat in a drawer until I gave them away to a charity. Fast forward to two years ago and after lasik and being pushed into another pair of bifocal, this time progressives, I spent 700 dollars on yet again another pair of glasses that I cannot wear. They make me sick. I cannot read music, and if I change my focus while driving, I drive off the road. I am changing eye doctors again and this time will refuse to be sucked into any bifocal lens. I am better off with cheap 5 dollar glasses.

  • Scott T says:

    I’ve had progressive lenses for several weeks. I went to the zoo this weekend and had to take off my glasses to walk up stairs. The weekend before that I had trouble stepping over logs while hiking. I told the eye doctor I didn’t want to try anything funky like this, but he talked me into it. My mother was a nurse and she said you always have to listen to the patient. They know their body best. I will be more forceful about this from now on, and will never again let an eye doctor talk me into anything odd. I don’t mind switching between one set of glasses to drive and another to use the computer. It’s a much better option over the vertigo.

  • I am so glad I found this thread about no-line/progressive lenses. I got a pair about 4 years ago (after not needing them because I had Lasic surgery 18 years earlier) and I absolutely could not get used to them. The woman who fit me (not the doctor) told me twice I needed to just take a week-end and get used to them. I couldn’t take them for 5 minutes let alone a week-end! I ditched them, but I took a loss of $550. and should have been more insistent with the eye office. Needless to say I am not going to that eye doctor any longer. I have been using one pair for close up and another for distance. I know I need bifocals again but will have to go with the lined kind, I guess. I also haven’t minded switching between two separate pairs, my distance vision isn’t too bad.

  • bharat says:

    I am using right now after few weeks I will be allright

  • bharat says:

    very good

  • Progressive Pete says:

    I can’t believe how many people are bashing progressive lenses on this site. I went from bifocals to progressives, and, like many, I initially thought they were terrible… But after short time my eyes adapted and I will never go back to bifocals ever again. Good quality progressive lenses are amazing!!! No glasses are perfect, but bifocals, in my opinion, aren’t even close to the progressive option.

  • Pepper says:

    I just got progressive lenses yesterday and I don’t see how I will ever get used to them. How do you get used to constant blur? I have never worn glasses before EVER. Everything is blurry. There is a VERY small focal point that I can see out of staring straight ahead and not moving, but everything else is so out of focus. If I move my head around – forget it. Blurry up, blurry down, blurry left, blurry right. I wore them for a few hours doing housework and ended up laying in bed half of the day because I was so nauseous. Headache, eyes ache. There’s no way I can drive with them because I can’t look around with out being hit with a wave of motion sickness. My vision isn’t bad and I can see mid range perfectly fine, so I don’t see how putting glasses on that makes everything blurry and makes me feel sick will help me!

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