This is the entry that I know many of my music friends have been anticipating: musicians working (or trying to) with progressive lenses on. Continuing from where I left off with my "progressives experience" for Day 3 - Part 1, I decided to try doing some office work while wearing them. Then, I figured I might as well try practicing piano too.
But first, here are my updated "control" videos with the split-screen view and my contact lenses in. I decided that would give viewers the best picture of how musician's eyes move when playing music:
Now that everyone has a frame of reference, let's get back to the experiment...
Doing Music-Related Office Work with Progressives
Cluttered as my office is, I do like my office set-up. My computer screen is 22" and I sit back on on an ergonomic chair. I use a stylus instead of a mouse to avoid tendinitis. I can enlarge the text size at will and basically read everything "head-on". This applies to reading papers and my smart phone.
I found that I used the top two areas of my progressives when doing my office work without any challenges. I was hard pressed to find an example of reading with the bottom part of the lens. By this time, I was subconsciously avoiding the bottom part of the lens since I knew I wouldn't need it for my tasks.
(Correction: I measured myself afterwards and I sit 45 - 50 inches away from the computer screen when doing computer work.)
Practicing Music with Progressives
This is the part that some of my music friends are most anxious about. Without further ado, here's the video with my commentary:
If you get too frustrated watching the video, you can skip towards the end to go through the last song (with and without progressives) and where I give my feedback.
Day 3 Conclusions on the Progressives and Music Experiment
Last night, I said that as far as playing a musical instrument goes, standard progressives and short corridor progressives truly are useless. However, I was speaking with the guitarist in my choir about it this morning and he said he had no challenges using progressives to read music. Willy doesn't need to use his peripheral vision to look down and to the sides. As a pianist, singer, conductor and percussionist - I do. Therefore, I think that whether progressives work for musicians really depends upon the instrument and your playing situation. Due to the nature of my playing needs and requirements, I'd have to say that I definitely cannot use standard or short-corridor progressives to read my music and play successfully in an ensemble. I think that any other musician who requires their peripheral vision in the lower and region of the lenses will have a similar experience as I. The vision needs for the lower part of the lens is the same as the middle. I also firmly believe that I have the wrong type of progressive lenses. I feel computer progressives or custom progressives would suit my needs better. By custom, I mean, give me what I do need help with: intermediate and distance vision only. My up-close vision for that fine print is fine. Seriously, I can just take off my glasses and use my own optical power to read the fine print. I can use my pinhole glasses to strengthen my eyes for this.
However, neither option were offered to me, which I feel cheated on. I wish that I had been given all of the options before plunking down my non-refundable $900+. I also think optometrists should get their their patients to complete a vision usage questionnaire before choosing which type of progressives to prescribe.
I will continue with the experiment until the end of the week and will include teaching, an excerpt of a choir rehearsal, singing and driving (as well as more practicing). However, that last video pretty much sums up why my colleagues have fought (hard) for either multiple pairs of glasses, non-adapt eyeglasses (basic single-vision lens) or dedicated music glasses. Music colleagues: I invite you now to share some of your experiences while using progressives for music.
Conclusion: Standard and short-corridor progressives are useless for musicians with vision needs similar to a pianist, percussionist, singer and conductor. They should explore other options, be it a different type of progressive lens (read: computer progressives or custom), multiple pairs of glasses for near, intermediate and far distances or stick to non-adapt single-vision wear.
Addendum: I just learned that my father has progressives that have distance vision and intermediate vision only. No up-close reading vision. He relies on his own optical power (sans glasses) for up-close reading. This, I might be able to live with. Furthermore, it should be the first option that is offered to a musician.