I will be moving all posts regarding the new Kirkland Signature High Definition (HD) progressive lenses to this thread. There were a few posts made in the main Costco thread
before this one, and I hope to be posting a complete review in the next month once I receive a pair. I plan on ordering a pair in the next few weeks.
To start, though, there was an article written on these lenses in the Costco Connection magazine in July 2014
. I'll paraphrase and quote some of the important points from the article here. Of course, the article was a promotional piece from Costco, but I'm still assuming the basic facts are accurate regarding the lens.
The author refers to HD (high definition) as being "free-form" created through a process of "digital surfacing". When I've researched these terms, it gets confusing. Many people equate the three terms (HD, free-form, and digital surfacing), but some eye care experts explain they have different meanings. In the Costco article, they at least define what they mean by digital surfacing as: "With digital surfacing, a computer program enables the lens-cutting machine to more precisely cut the prescription onto each lens as it spins in the generator." Art Salas, the assistant vice-president of Costco Optical is quoted in the article as saying, "These progressive lenses are 100 percent digitally surfaced, allowing for better customization on both sides of the lens and, ultimately, greater comfort."
So - what does all of this mean? Having communicated with several eye care specialists, it seems that even they get confused on these terms. I'm not sure that at my level of understanding it is even worth trying to get technical. Basically, these terms all refer to design and production methods that have the ability to make a much more precise and customized eyeglass lens for the specific wearer. For a few years now, some of the more expensive progressives on the market use these abilities take into account other specific measurements, such as the specific frames being used and how the eyeglass frames sit on a particular individual's face. When I spoke to my local Costco, they said they measure segment height as an additional parameter in the manufacture of their HD progressives. The segment height (distance from the bottom of the lens to the point where the progressive segment starts) is another feature, and Costco does include that in their custom measurements. Segment height is only one of several measurements that can be used to customize lenses.
Obviously all of these measurements can be used to make a more customized progressive lens for each individual. However, it doesn't guarantee the end result will be better. There are so many other factors involved in whether someone will adapt to a particular progressive lens. Some progressives are designed to optimize distance vision. Others are more optimal for creating a wider near reading area, or maybe making a larger intermediate "corridor" for in between distances. Some might be better for people who only need a small correction, and some better for people with a strong correction. The physics behind progressive lenses (in spite of what marketing may claim) make it impossible to have perfectly adjusted vision throughout an entire progressive lens.
And some people's brains are much more able to adjust to progressive lenses. Some may do well with one brand's approach to the progressive lens, yet have problems with another style. The only way to know for sure is to try. I'll be writing more about my opinion and experience on these issues in another thread soon, where I write about my opinion of the best progressive lens. Basically, I ultimately decided that since I've done mostly okay with these super-cheap Zenni optical progressive lenses
for the past year, I can't justify spending several hundred dollars on a "top of the line" progressive lens, when at this point I'm not sure there would be much if any difference for me compared to the much cheaper Costco progressive lens.
The price point on the Costco progressive is impressive, particularly if it is a true "freeform" lens. Here are the prices for the Costco Kirkland Signature HD Progressive lenses:
Polycarbonate with premium anti-reflective coating: $129.99
Polycarbonate, premium anti-reflective coating and polarized lens: $139.99
Polycarbonate, premium anti-reflective, and Transitions photochromatic lenses: $159.99
High Index with premium anti-reflective coating: $159.99
High index, premium anti-reflective, and Transitions photochromatic lenses: $204.99
For comparison, a local optician who knew nothing about me said I should definitely get the Varilux lenses, which is all the prescribe because it is the best lens. The price starts at $350 for the lens. I didn't ask, but I'm assuming that is without any anti-reflective coating, which cost me over $100 when I bought single vision lenses from this office in the past (Crizal Avance)
. That may not be the most fair comparison, but I can pretty comfortably say these prices are about half the price of most other places. Obviously the savings aren't worth anything if the lens doesn't perform well for me. The other good thing with Costco is that they've always been good about standing behind their products if something doesn't work out.
I'm excited to give it a try and I'll share my experience once I get them.