Blog Hero

Difference Between Bifocal & Progressive Lenses

Book Appointment
A young woman smiling and trying on glasses in a store while being assisted by an optician or optometrist.

Picking the right eyewear can feel overwhelming with all the choices out there. But the eyewear industry keeps evolving, introducing new and improved lenses to meet different needs and preferences. 

2 common lens options for those who need multiple prescriptions are bifocal and progressive lenses. Both lenses serve the same purpose, but offer distinct differences in their design and functionality. 

Choosing the right lenses for you depends on your specific vision needs. Bifocal lenses may be best if you need glasses for reading or using a computer. If you need glasses for a broader range of vision correction, progressive lenses may be the better option. 

Your eye doctor can help you find the best glasses for your needs during an eye exam.

What Are Bifocal Lenses?

Bifocals have been around for a while. They correct both near and far vision and have a visible dividing line in the lens dividing the 2 separate lens powers. 

The upper part corrects distance vision, and the lower part corrects near vision, making them ideal for people who need glasses for reading or looking at their computer screen and driving or watching TV. 

They’re commonly prescribed to those with presbyopia, an age-related refractive error that leads to the gradual loss of the ability to focus on nearby objects. You can develop presbyopia along with other refractive errors, like nearsightedness or farsightedness. Bifocals can correct both vision problems.

The Advantages of Bifocals

  • The distinct line on bifocals makes it easy to switch between distance and near vision, as you simply look through the appropriate part of the lens for the task at hand.
  • Bifocals are generally more affordable than progressive lenses.

What Are Progressive Lenses?

The design of progressive lenses is newer and more advanced than bifocals. These lenses provide a progressive gradient of power from the top of the lens to the bottom, offering seamless transitions for different vision needs. 

Progressive lenses don’t feature a visible line separating near and far vision segments. Instead, they use a sophisticated design to achieve a gradual transition to correct far, intermediate, and near vision in the same lens.

Progressive lenses are ideal for those who need a wide range of vision correction, such as those with presbyopia as well as another refractive error.

Advantages of Progressive Lenses

  • Progressive lenses offer a smooth, gradual change in prescription strength from the top of the lens (for distance) to the bottom (for reading), creating a more natural transition between different vision corrections.
  • Progressive lenses not only correct distance and near vision but also intermediate distances, making them versatile for various daily tasks. 

How to Choose Which Lenses to Use

Deciding between progressive lenses and bifocal lenses depends on your lifestyle, visual needs, and personal preferences. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Occupation and hobbies: If you spend a lot of time working on a computer or engaging in activities that require clear vision at intermediate distances, progressive lenses might be the best choice. They provide seamless vision correction for various focal points. However, if you need sharp vision mainly for reading and distance tasks, bifocals could be sufficient.
  • Comfort and adaptation: Progressive lenses have a learning curve. You’ll need some time to adjust to the new way of seeing, as the lens gradually changes from distant to near vision. If you’re comfortable with this adaptation period, then progressive lenses could be an excellent option. However, if you prefer a simpler solution without any adjustment period, bifocals might be more suitable for you.
  • Budget: It’s always important to consider cost when making a decision. Bifocal lenses are generally less expensive than progressive lenses, so they can be a more budget-friendly choice if you’re looking to save money on your eyeglasses.
  • Aesthetic preferences: If you prioritize aesthetics and don’t want the visible line that comes with bifocals, progressive lenses might be the better option. They provide a smooth transition between different focal points, making them more visually appealing.

In the end, the choice is yours, but your eye care team would be happy to help you narrow down your options. They can also suggest extra features to improve your vision, like anti-reflective coatings or photochromic lenses.

A woman in an optometry clinic shaking hands with a male optometrist.

Choosing Your Vision Solution 

Both progressive and bifocal lenses offer unique features to correct multiple vision problems in the same lens.With the right prescriptions and proper care, you can enjoy the benefits provided by your eyeglasses, whether you choose progressive or bifocals. Work with your eye care team at Eye Care Plus to determine which lenses work best for your specific needs. Book an appointment to discuss your options today!

About the Author

Avatar photo
Dr. Jaya M. Pathapati grew up in the Bronx and Yonkers, NY. She got her Bachelor of Science in Biology and was awarded the highest distinction in Biology at the College of Mt. St. Vincent. She received her Doctor of Optometry from the State University of NY, College of Optometry. She rotated through externships that were hospital-based and through Veteran’s Affair in NY. Following graduation, she moved to Amarillo, Texas, with her husband. She has practiced in the Panhandle for the past 21 years.
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax