Physical and psychophysical analysis of progressive addition lens embodiments

  • Colin M. Sullivan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The extent to which the surface parameters of Progressive Addition Lenses (PALs) affect successful patient tolerance was investigated. Several optico-physical evaluation techniques were employed, including a newly constructed surface reflection device which was shown to be of value for assessing semi-finished PAL blanks. Detailed physical analysis was undertaken using a computer-controlled focimeter and from these data, iso-cylindrical and mean spherical plots were produced for each PAL studied. Base curve power was shown to have little impact upon the distribution of PAL astigmatism. A power increase in reading addition primarily caused a lengthening and narrowing of the lens progression channel. Empirical measurements also indicated a marginal steepening of the progression power gradient with an increase in reading addition power.
A sample of the PAL wearing population were studied using patient records and questionnaire analysis (90% were returned). This subjective analysis revealed the reading portion to be the most troublesome lens zone and showed that patients with high astigmatism (> 2.00D) adapt more readily to PALs than those with spherical or low cylindrical (2.00D) corrections.
The psychophysical features of PALs were then investigated. Both grafting visual acuity (VA) and contrast sensitivity (CS) were shown to be reduced with an increase in eccentricity from the central umbilical line. Two sample populations (N= 20) of successful and unsuccessful PAL wearers were assessed for differences in their visual performance and their adaptation to optically induced distortion. The possibility of dispensing errors being the cause of poor patient tolerance amongst the unsuccessful wearer group was investigated and discounted. The contrast sensitivity of the successful group was significantly greater than that of the unsuccessful group. No differences in adaptation to or detection of curvature distortion were evinced between these presbyopic groups.
Date of AwardMar 1990
Original languageEnglish


  • progressive addition lenses
  • varifocal
  • physical investigation
  • psychophysical responses
  • visual performance

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