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Single vision vs. progressive lenses: which is better?

Feb 28,2024

Prescription glasses come in many different types, depending on the vision issue that you have. Your eye doctor will give you a test and figure out which particular type you need, as well as the appropriate lens grade that will help you see clearly. The two most popular glasses lenses that people usually wear are single vision lenses and progressive lenses. When you look at them, these glasses don’t look anything different. But upon closer examination, you will quickly see that they are not alike at all, and that they serve different purposes.

single vision vs progressive lenses

What are single vision lenses?

Single vision lenses are the most basic type of prescription glasses where the lenses have just one prescription strength all throughout. The left and right sides may have different strengths, but each of these lenses has just one lens grade in its entirety. Individuals who suffer from just one vision problem are usually prescribed single vision lenses to correct their vision.

What are progressive lenses?

Progressive lenses are those that feature more than one prescription strength. For instance, the upper part of the lens might have a strength to correct distance vision, while the lower part might be suitable for reading at closer distances. As you can imagine, progressive lenses are prescribed for individuals who have more than one type of vision problem. Oftentimes, people tend to need progressive lenses as they get older and develop more vision issues.

Because of the multiple prescription strengths in the lens, progressive lenses are quite similar to bifocals or trifocals. In fact, they are also considered to be a type of bifocals or trifocals. There is a notable difference, however. Ordinary bifocals have a distinct line that runs across the lens, marking the boundary between the lens grades. Progressive lenses do not have this line since the change in prescription strength across the different areas is gradual.

Single vision vs. progressive lenses

It is now clear that the main difference between single vision vs progressive lenses is the number of prescription strengths that they offer. However, because of the seamless transition between the different lens grades in the progressive lenses, they can actually look very much like single vision glasses. This is actually why many people prefer them over the conventional bifocals.

Is it better to wear single vision lenses or progressive lenses?

If you only have one vision problem, perhaps you are nearsighted or farsighted, then ordinary single vision glasses would be all that you need. However, if you have seen your eye doctor and they have prescribed different lens grades for distance and near vision, then you need to make a decision. Either you get two separate pairs of single vision lenses for these two prescriptions, or combine them into one progressive pair.

There is no single answer as to which option is better as this would depend on individual preference. To help you decide, take a look at some of the pros and cons of both options.

Pros and cons of single vision lenses

The biggest advantage of sticking to single vision glasses is that you don't need to adjust to wearing multiple prescriptions at a time, which some find to be difficult. You will also not have to deal with the typical drawbacks of progressives like peripheral distortion, which is quite common, especially with cheaper glasses.

However, wearing single vision lenses can also be quite inconvenient because you need multiple pairs of glasses. Furthermore, you have to bring them all with you wherever you go because you never know when you're going to need them. You might have one pair for distance, another for reading, and maybe yet another one for intermediate vision.

Pros and cons of progressive lenses

The main advantage of progressive lenses is that they allow you to use just one pair of glasses for all your vision problems. There's no need to buy multiple pairs for different distances. The same pair can help you see clearly across all distances, as long as you look through the correct area in the lens.

A common complaint that people have about progressive lenses is that it takes some time to get used to them. During the first few days, there might even be some dizziness, nausea, distortion, and so on, but these will eventually dissipate over time. Progressive lenses are also considerably pricier than ordinary single vision glasses.

At the end of the day, your choice will depend on your own preference and comfort. The important thing is that you wear the correct prescription so that you will be able to see as clearly as possible on all occasions.