Near environment lenses, like those from HOYA, improve vision for near and intermediate tasks such as computer, laptop, tablet, and smartphone use.

Near environment lenses provide comfortable viewing of computer and handheld devices while reducing eye fatigue.

As the use of digital technology expands, so too are custom lens offerings. Near environment lenses, also known as computer or occupational lenses, improve vision for near and intermediate tasks such as computer use, office work at a desk, tablets, and smartphones, as well as other jobs that require prolonged work at close viewing distances.

“With technology changing, more people are switching over to more digital devices—especially with children who are moving from general textbooks to smart tablets—the population is starting to become educated about computer vision syndrome and digital vision syndrome,” says Heather Padgett, national project marketing manager at HOYA Vision Care, North America.

Padgett notes that backlit devices put much more stress on eyes that are used to focusing on paper. Eyestrain from performing visually intensive hobbies is the most common symptom of Computer Vision Syndrome, which is experienced by 125 million Americans, according to the American Optometric Association.

Jeff Hopkins, senior manager, professional affairs, at Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc., says that while interest in near environment lenses is growing, it is still an under-utilized category and many people would benefit from this type of lens. “There are many people who struggle with vision when they are sitting at the computer for long periods of time,” he says.

Numerous companies have designed custom specialty lenses to meet the growing needs of the digital world. Here are offerings from some of the leading lens manufacturers.

Sync Vision is a single vision lens with a twist. Available for children and adults, Sync Vision features a radial and vertical aspheric single vision design. It has a small bump on the bottom of the lens (+0.55D or +0.88D), which provides comfortable viewing at varying near and intermediate distances with smartphones, computers, laptops, and tablets, explains Padgett. The lens is ideal for reading, using handheld devices, or gaming.

The HOYALUX TACT, an indoor extended focus progressive lens, is available in Eye Point 60 (EP60) for near vision emphasis, and is recommended for patients using glasses mainly for reading and laptop computers. It comes in Eye Point 40 (EP40) for intermediate vision emphasis, and is best suited for patients using glasses in the desktop computer environment.

Essilor Computer Lens is recommended for presbyopes experiencing symptoms of Visual Fatigue Syndrome.

The Essilor Computer Lens, from Essilor of America, Inc., is a progressive addition lens (PAL) with a very large mid zone; it is both wider and taller than other lenses, mentioned Pierre Bertrand, Essilor’s vice president of marketing. The larger intermediate area creates a more comfortable visual experience, with no head tipping required to find the correct intermediate power. The design makes it easier to work for eight to 10 hours in front of a computer and is also useful for auto work, sewing, or other activities that require mid-range vision for long periods of time.

Essilor Computer Lens is designed to reduce visual fatigue syndrome, including the neck pain, and dry, tired eyes that often result when people make physical adjustments to compensate for the visual issue while working long hours at their computers. “It is a three-vision lens, which provides some distance—if you are in an office environment it is still necessary to see across the room, but it is not the focus of the lens,” Bertrand says, noting that the Essilor Computer Lens is intended to be prescribed as a second pair to complement the wearer’s primary pair of progressive lenses.

A different variable focus lens from Essilor is the Anti-Fatigue Lens which features a “Power Boost” in the lower portion of the lens to give the wearer’s eyes improved clarity and comfort when focusing up close for extended periods. The lenses are recommended for myopes aged 18 to 40 who experience symptoms of tired eyes, and presbyopes aged 35 to 45 who have difficulty reading but are not ready for progressives.

PCWide, a new design from Seiko, uses free-form technology to provide wide clear reading and intermediate vision for computer and desk work.

PCWide, from Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc. is designed for exclusive use within a desktop or digital environment. “This is different from some of the other available computer lenses because there is no distance and no inset,” explains Michael Rybacki, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Seiko Optical’s Lens and Frame Business. PCWide is strictly made to have pure near reading power based on the person’s normal reading power and it has an extremely wide and long intermediate channel which provides superior vision within the office environment, he says. This occupational lens is useful to people who have a desk full of documents and who need to look right and left from 50cm to 90cm away, and at the screen.

The lenses use a soft design and what the company refers to as Reverse Power Accommodation Technology, which controls the linear reversal in power as the eye moves upward in the lens. It’s available in three reversing options: -1.00D, -1.50D, and -2.00D. The full power reading area starts at 10mm below the lens fitting point, yielding clear focus at a reading distance of 35cm. The lens power reverses linearly as the eye rotates up through the 25mm intermediate corridor. Lens power at the fitting point is reduced by 40%, providing sharp visual focus at the standard 50cm computer monitor distance.


People, especially gamers, don’t blink enough and often experience dry eye. Gunnar’s wrap creates ‘an optical microclimate’ to keep the eyes moister.

Carl Zeiss has partnered with Gunnar Optiks’ Prescription Solutions for Digital Eye Fatigue and is the exclusive provider of the Gunnar Technology Eyewear. Gunnar lenses are designed to improve vision for people who spend many hours using computers, smartphones, TV monitors, and various other digital screens. Gunnar’s Rx solutions come in both HD Single Vision and Ergo HD and provide near vision and intermediate vision up to about 7 ft. The single vision lens also is available with a power boost or in a typical near environment design.

The lens filters out some of the harsher frequencies from fluorescent light from screens and also provides improved contrast when the wearer is focused on a screen, according to the company. Gunnar’s distinctive wrap creates what the company calls an optical microclimate that is designed to keep the eyes moister. “The studies bear this out that by blocking some of the air flow, the humidity behind the lens is higher than it would be with a standard lens,” says Hopkins. He noted that people, especially gamers, don’t blink enough and often experience dry eye.

Carl Zeiss also offers several other lenses that fit into the near environment category, including Zeiss Business Computer Lens that gives wide, near, and intermediate vision using progressive power without distance. The company’s new flagship progressive, ZEISS Progressive Individual 2®, also is available in three design options: balanced, enhanced near, and enhanced intermediate.

“For heavy computer users a true computer lens is still the best choice, but Individual 2’s intermediate option is a great choice for people who want better computer vision in an all-purpose progressive,” explains Hopkins.

As more people transition to handheld digital technology, the category will continue to expand with advanced lens technology. “People like the near vision lenses,” says Essilor’s Bertrand. “Once they get into the category they tend to stay there.”

Lisa B. Samalonis is a medical writer in New Jersey.


Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc.
800-358-8258 •

Essilor of America, Inc.
800-542-5668 •

Gunnar Optiks
877-824-3322 •

HOYA Vision Care, North America
877-528-1939 •

Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc.

800-235-5367 •


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