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!


  • 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.

    • 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!

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