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Special Lenses for Special People

Lens selection guide for specific occupations and recreations


X-Cel has produced this guide to help match a persons varied occupations, lifestyle and special needs, to the best and most comfortable lens styles and treatments. It is not a substitute for professional ophthalmic advice. Discovery of and a full appreciation for an individual's visual tasks in their occupations, hobbies and social activities is highly recommended for choosing among many lens types. For example, a fisherman may not readily reveal his great frustration with not being able to see clearly while tying a knot in a fishing line. Consultation between the patient, practitioner and dispenser is the best way to discover the unique visual acuity and comfort needs of the patient.



Physical or Contact Sports
Football, Baseball, Racquetball, Racing Sports, Basketball, Soccer, Tennis, Skateboarding


Critical Factors: Safety protection against eye injury, precise acuity, good peripheral vision, UV protection, and control over fogging from perspiration.


Lens Selections: Contact lenses are a common choice. Trivex™ and Polycarbonate lenses offer high-impact resistance and protection. Lenses should be mounted in a safety frame or sport goggle. Contrast-enhancing lenses such as yellow tints or ACE lenses for tennis and other outdoor ball sports will improve visual acuity through better image contrast. Hydrophobic coatings will prevent fogging.




Visually Demanding Occupations
Dentist, Surgeon, Aviator, Mechanic, Electrician, Painter, Plumber, Carpenter, Console Worker, CNC Tool Operator, Sorter, Assembly Line Worker, Musician, Librarian


Critical Factors: Visual stress due to prolonged, concentrated visual tasks, distractive environments, unusual postures, poor lighting, annoying reflections and the need for critical vision at different focal distances. In the majority of cases the patient should be refracted for acute vision at the critical working distances, with lenses prescribed accordingly. Plus-power prescriptions may need a small amount of prism at near (see Highly Detailed Occupations and Hobbies). Most visually demanding jobs also require a wide lateral field of vision. The working environment should be considered when selecting lens materials. Is there a need for impact resistant or safety eyewear? There are several specialized lens styles that will make on-the-job vision more acute and comfortable.


Lens Selections: Single vision "work only" lenses can be prescribed for comfortable long-term vision at specific working distance powers. Double D bifocal lenses with near vision segments both above and below eye level, will give visual acuity at several different focal distances. A Quadrifocal is the trifocal equivalent of the Double D lens. Acclaim 61™ Trifocals (8X34, 10X35, 12X35, and 14X35) and other plastic and glass multifocals with special intermediate vision areas (60% to 70%) meet the need for a stronger power at arms length. There are several progressive-type "mid-distance, variable focus" lenses that offer a larger intermediate viewing area and near vision. They are often called "room" or "indoor lenses", and are identified by brand name.


Carpet and Tile Layers, Tractor Operators, Mail Carriers, Police Officers


Lens Selections: Ribbon or Bar multifocal segments when distance acuity is needed above and below the near vision segment. Read Right lenses can offer a large near vision area and a small distance vision area.


Suggestions: Photochromic lenses for jobs that require frequent changes from indoor to outdoor, sunglass tints for outdoor work, anti-reflective treatment to increase visible light transmittance and reduce reflection. If lenses will be subject to abrasion or frequent cleaning, consider glass lenses to prevent scratching. If needed for protection, provide safety lenses: polycarbonate, Trivex™ or other high-impact resistance lenses.




Taxi, Truck, Delivery, Police, Salesperson, Commuter


Critical Factors: Sunlight absorption, glare protection, peripheral vision, night driving reflections and the ability to comfortably view both distance and dashboard.


Lens Selections: Polarized Styles: Progressive, D35 bifocals, 7X35 or 8X35 trifocals. Sunglass tints: Gray, Green, G-15, Photochromic Gray, Brown, Autumn Gold™. Polarized colors: Gray, Brown, Green, Photochromic Gray, Brown and Polarized Autumn Gold™. Normally, car windshields will block the UV light that activates photochromic lenses. However, some of the newer materials such as Thin & Dark™ glass and Transitions® plastic lenses will offer a very slight tint inside a vehicle.


Suggestions: Yellow, blue-blocking lenses such as Autumn Gold™ will reduce night driving reflections and improve visible light transmittance. Adding Anti-Reflective coatings will further enhance their performance. Polarized lenses will reduce daytime glare and reflections. Photochromic lenses offer indoor/outdoor adaptability but do not activate (darken) completely behind a windshield. Wide multifocal styles offer a larger "near" and "intermediate" viewing area.




Outdoor Occupations
Farming, Ranching, Construction, Maintenance, Resource Management, Logging, Masonry, Postal Delivery


Critical Factors: Scratch resistance, fogging, safety, glare, sunlight and UV protection. Safety or protective eyewear? Dusty or abrasive work environment?


Lens Selections: Single vision, bifocals, trifocals, progressives. Glass lenses or scratch resistant coatings offer abrasion resistance. Sunglass tints, Polarized lenses. Photochromic lenses for indoor/outdoor work. Ribbon or Bar segment bifocals work well for tractor drivers and postal workers when viewing the field below, and above the bifocal segment. Trivex and Polycarbonate lenses provide impact resistance. Polarized lenses offer glare reduction. Polarized-Photochromic lenses offer indoor/outdoor adaptability and glare reduction.


Suggestions: Determine if the wearer will need indoor/outdoor lenses. Hydrophobic coatings will reduce fogging. UV protection may be needed. Glass will resist scratching in abrasive environments or when frequent cleaning in the field is necessary. Polarized lenses will reduce glare, block UV and provide sunglass comfort outdoors.



Desk/Office Occupations
Clerical, Accountants, Drafting*, Secretarial, Administration


Critical Factors: Focal length (near, intermediate and distance) to the viewing area is very important. Near peripheral-vision may be important. Posture, indoor lighting, head movement and the frequency of focal distance changes will significantly affect comfort and acuity (see Computer Occupations and Hobbies). The patient should be refracted for clear vision at the critical working distances, with lenses prescribed accordingly. Both the amount of plus power, and the vertical width of the intermediate viewing area, should be considered. It may be helpful to have the patient demonstrate typical working visual activities. Will the lenses be only used on the job or as all-purpose lenses?


Lens Selections: Wide segment multifocals: D35 bifocals, 7X35 or 8X35 trifocals, Executive Style, wide-view progressives provide good lateral fields of view. Acclaim 61™ (61% intermediate) 8X34, 10X35, 12X35, 14x35 lenses offer increased power in the intermediate viewing range. "Variable Focus" lenses under several different brand names are progressive multifocals for indoor computer and desk task work. "Work-Site only" single vision lenses with power specific for the working distance are a good option.


Suggestions: Lightly tinted lenses for comfort in brightly lit, high-glare environments: Tan, Rose or photochromic tinted lenses. Anti-reflective treatment will reduce reflections and increase visible light transmittance. Bifocals, trifocals, and progressives may need to be fit higher than usual for comfortable use of the intermediate viewing area.


*Drafting Occupation Suggestions: When suggesting Executive, D35, D45 bifocals consider a 40% to 50% reduction in "near power" for visual comfort at arms length. Acclaim 61™ trifocals maybe a better solution, if the lenses are also used for non-specific visual activities.




Computer Occupations and Hobbies
Computer Display, Office or Home Computer User, Data Entry, Programmer, Computer Analyst


Critical Factors: Computer operators are one of the fastest growing worker groups, and computer use is a common reason for eye-related complaints. Fatigue, irritation and blurred vision are common complaints. Visual acuity is essential. Environmental factors are often responsible for eye-related problems. These include: ergonomics, location of lighting, reflections, posture, seating, distractions, and temperature. Computer operators should examine all these factors to maximize visual comfort. Common working distance is 22 to 24 inches. Refract at working distance. Multifocals must be carefully fit for segment height and width. Bifocals may be fit low, trifocals high, for comfortable computer viewing. Often "over-plusing" the Rx by 0.25 to 0.50 diopters will help. Patients will benefit by having a specific pair of eyeglasses for computer use only.


Lens Selections: Single vision lenses with appropriate power for working distance. Wide intermediate trifocals, eg 14X35, Acclaim 61™, Many specialized "computer lenses" are available, identified by brand. "Variable focus" lenses, often called "room" or "indoor" progressives, are suited for office use.


Suggestions: Light tints reduce glare and visual fatigue. Anti-reflective lenses will reduce reflections and increase visible light transmittance. It may be helpful to position the patient at a simulated work-station to assess working distance, eye movement, head position, posture and distance viewing.




Highly Detailed Occupations & Hobbies
Inspectors, Assemblers, Tool Makers, Knitting, Sewing, Collecting Stamps/Coins, Fly Tying, Wood Carving, Sculpture, Painting, Cards/Games


Critical Factors: Lenses must provide visual acuity at the visual working distance. Refract at working distance, near and intermediate. Consider lighting and posture, lateral field of view requirements. Consider the use of intermediate vision and the possible need for magnification or near acuity in a limited or specific area of the lens. Consider relocating near-vision segments to where they are most needed in the lens. Give special attention to convergence problems at near distance. Most of these patients will benefit from a small amount of base-in prism. They will rarely benefit from base out prism. Consider some additional bifocal "seg-inset" to achieve a small amount of "base-in" prism at near on plus power Rx's. (Minus distance powers have natural distance induced, "base-in" prism at near.)


Lens Selections: (see also Office Occupations section) "Work only" single vision or magnifying lenses. Read Right lenses that are unlike a traditional multifocal, having a large near-vision area and a smaller distance viewing area, usually on the lens periphery. Acclaim 61™ occupational trifocals, D35 bifocals, 7X35 or 8X35 trifocals, Executive style and progressives. "Spot Segs," round segment bifocals - the segment can be placed anywhere at the periphery of the lens to provide magnifying or critical near vision, only when and where needed.


Suggestions: Anti-reflective treatment will reduce reflections and increase visible light transmission. Deep bifocals or trifocal segments will provide a larger near vision viewing area if appropriate for the eye movement pattern. Increased intermediate power is often needed. Tinted lenses will help reduce glare and fatigue in brightly lit environments.




Outdoor Activities
Archery, Hunting, Skeet and Target Shooting, Auto Racing, Drag Racing


Critical Factors: Provide the best possible distance acuity for these activities, which are often competitive. Do not "over plus" shooting glasses for myopic patients. Are safety lenses required?


Lens Selections: Autumn Gold™, Canary Yellow, ACE or UVSG lenses will provide "improved image contrast" to help with target resolution and absorb scattered blue light - critical for avid hunters and marksmen. Autumn Gold™ is a photochromic lens, and along with UVSG or other dark sunglass tints, will reduce visible light transmission. Autumn gold™, Canary Yellow and ACE lenses provide contrast enhancement with less absorption of visible light. "Spot" multifocals may be placed at the periphery of the lens for near viewing. ACE lenses will provide faster color recognition and good visible light transmission for drag racers. Plastic or glass photochromic lenses will provide indoor/outdoor comfort and flexibility for frequently changing light conditions.


Suggestions: UV protection, anti-reflection treatment, hydrophobic coating to reduce fogging and mist build-up. Glass lenses reduce lens abrasions. A heavy-duty, sport or safety frame may be appropriate.


Boating, Fishing, Sailing, Skiing, Beach


Lens Selections: Polarized sunglasses in single vision, multifocal or progressives styles reduce glare and provide UV protection. G-15, UVSG, Gray #3 and other fixed tint dark lenses reduce visible light and UV transmission. Photochromic Thin & Dark™ and Transition® lenses reduce glare and provide UV protection for varying light conditions. Combination lenses can be custom made, combining the qualities of two different lens materials by lamination. For example - photochromic and polarizing features, selective filtration lenses, etc.


Suggestions: Fishermen will appreciate a pair of "tackle box" high-plus readers, or a +0.50D stronger add for super-close work (line tangles, knot tying). Provide UV protection. Polarized lenses are best at reducing glare from water or snow. For more rigorous activities, sport goggles may be considered. Mirrored or fashion color coatings are available - check with your lab for availability of multifocals, progressives etc. in these materials.


Golf, Horseshoes, Bocce Ball, Shuffleboard


Lens Selections: (see also Archery, Hunting section) Special "golfer lenses" are often made with a small "spot" round segment at the lens periphery for presbyopes. Photochromic or "fixed tint" lenses absorb bright sunlight. Polarized lenses reduce glare and absorb sunlight. Contrast enhancing lenses (ACE, Autumn Gold™, UVSG, Yellow tint) will improve a person’s ability to distinguish distant or moving objects.


Suggestions: Precise distance acuity and contrast distinction are important, along with sunlight and UV absorption. Safety is of less concern, as these activities are not rigorous. Because of variable outdoor light, a golfer may wish to have lenses for both sunny and cloudy days. Photochromic glass or Transitions® lenses may serve well in both cases. Anti-reflective and hydrophobic treatments reduce reflections and fogging.


The near vision (add power) areas in progressive lenses or multifocal segments often interfere with the distance vision of presbyopic golfers. This area of "higher power" is particularly intrusive when addressing the ball or while swinging the golf club - two of the most critical aspects of the game. For that reason many golfers prefer a separate pair of single vision eyeglasses for golfing, or have special lenses made that place the near-vision add power to the upper edge or periphery of the lens. Thus the near add power may still be used to read a scorecard.


Snowmobiling, Cycling, In-Line or Ice Skating


Lens Selections: See Boating, Sailing section


Suggestions: Sport- related or safety goggle/shields are often recommended for protection in case of falls, collisions or impact with foreign objects. Trivex or polycarbonate are the preferred lens materials.




Dangerous Occupations & Hobbies
Home Workshop, Home Maintenance, Carpentry, Woodworking, Masonry, Metal and Stone, Machinist, Maintenance, Glass Blowing, Welding, Kiln, Ceramics, Lab Work, Laser, X-Ray, Medical Technician, Hospital, Researcher


Critical Factors: It is important to have eye protection from dangerous or uncomfortable light rays, including invisible IR (infrared), and UV rays. Protection against chemical sprays or flying debris may also be important. Considerations: Are the lenses used for occupational or hobby activities? Is there a need for impact resistance? Safety goggles? Safety lenses? Safety frames? Protective "flip-downs" or face shields? Will there be lens abrasion from frequent cleanings? Which particular light spectrum needs to be absorbed by the lenses? Note there may be a minimum lens-thickness requirement in order to meet filtration and impact protection specifications.


Lens Selections: The correct lens material is very important. Polycarbonate and Trivex lens materials will offer the greatest protection from flying debris. In highly abrasive environments or when frequent cleaning is necessary, impact resistant glass lenses are an option. Absorptive glass lenses listed below are sometimes used in conjunction with flip-downs or face shields. Rose Didymium glass absorbs sodium flare, important for glass blowers. ACE (amethyst contrast enhancing) allows good visible light transmittance, improved color definition, and it absorbs sodium flare. Ace is another choice used by glass blowers and kiln workers. There are lenses that can offer protection from specific laser rays. First identify the type of laser and frequency at which it operates. Then consult authorities for the proper lens materials. X-Ray lenses have a high lead content and are used by researchers, lab and hospital workers and X-Ray technicians.


Occupational lens information


Recommendations: For occupational safety or protective lens requirements consult authorities, including safety labs, employers, safety engineers, qualified union representatives, safety or occupational handbooks, manufacturer and trade literature. Consult your lab for details on the lens styles and materials available.




Social Activities, General and Evening Wear
Dining, Entertaining, Playing Cards and Games, Reading , TV, Theater, Dancing, Professional Entertainers, Personalities


Critical Factors: Fashion, visual comfort, lighting, reflections, posture.


Lens Selections: Single vision, progressive and a wide selection of multifocals. Minimize edge and center thickness with high index materials and aspheric curves. For reading or TV viewing in bed, consider locating the near-vision bifocal segment out of the way, to the top of the lens.


Suggestions: Anti-reflective treatments, fashion tints, fashion frames, rimless or edge-polished lenses. Lorgnettes for fun and fashion.




High Plus or High Minus RX


Critical Factors: Weight reduction, center and edge thickness reduction, improved cosmetic appeal. New lens styles, materials and finishing procedures can make cosmetic improvements, reduce weight and improve peripheral vision.


Lens Selections: Aspheric single vision and progressive lenses. High index plastic or glass lenses. Trivex and polycarbonate lenses are lightweight. Myo-disk lenses. Laminated lenses can reduce weight by bonding lighter materials in one lens.


Suggestions: Anti-reflective treatments will reduce reflections and color fringes. It will improve visible light transmission. Hide-a-Bevel, rolled and polished edges, special edge treatments and special frames will reduce the appearance of thick lenses.




Clinical Vision Correction


Base-up prism correction for Vertical Imbalance.


Lens Suggestions: Slab-off, Compensated bifocals, Bonded prism segments.


Convergence or Accommodation problems at "near."


Lens Selections: Prism segments bifocals, compensated bifocals, bonded prism segments, trifocal intermediate segments with power greater than 50% of the bifocal. Small amounts of base-in prism may be achieved by "decentering" at near, using oversized (81mm) lens blanks.


Advanced Presbyopia.


Lens Suggestions: Trifocals, quadrifocals, progressives. The Acclaim 61™ trifocal series provide 61% intermediate power, rather than the traditional 50%.


Color Blindness.


Lens Suggestions: Red or green in one eye, clear lens in the other.


Night Blindness.


Lens Suggestions: Autumn Gold™ or Canary Yellow lenses, Anti-reflective treatment.


Photophobia, Light Sensitivity.


Lens Suggestions: Sunglass tints, photochromic lenses (especially darker tints), Thin & Dark™, Transitions® lenses, and polarized photochromic lenses.


Retinitis Pigmentosa, Macular Degeneration.


Lens Suggestions: CPF series lenses, Yellow or Orange tints, Polarized CPF lenses.




Utility Glasses


Critical Factors: When TV viewing or reading in bed a person may have difficulty with near add power in the traditional "bottom" area of the lens.


Lens Selections: Single vision lenses with near power only (readers). Reversed, bifocal segments - at the top of the lens for distance viewing, below. Read Right lenses (small distance viewing area or segment).


Critical Factors: Shaving, make-up application or close-up work.


Lens Selections: Magnifier lenses. Special frames are available. A magnifying mirror may be of assistance.


Critical Factors: Contact lens wearers will frequently need and use an extra pair of glasses.


Lens Selections: Readers, sunglasses, Rx lenses.




Informed patients appreciate the wide range of lens styles and materials. They will enjoy improved safety, comfort and visual acuity while engaged in their personally unique, lifestyle activities. Use this guide to help discover and recommend from a wide variety of lens solutions.


This guide is not a substitute for professional ophthalmic advice.
Patents should consider a separate pair of eyeglasses for differing and exacting visual activities.




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