What are Multifocal Lenses? (Progressive Lenses)
Multifocal, or progressive lenses, have multiple focusing powers. This improves your vision at different distances.
In multifocal, the different sections of focusing power are blended together. In most cases, they have a prescription for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and intermediate distances.
Multifocal lenses correct age-related vision problems. They offer a gradual or progressive switch between farsightedness and nearsightedness correction. They also make it so you don’t need to switch glasses based on what you’re doing.
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Who Needs Multifocal Lenses?
Your eye doctor might recommend multifocal lenses if you:
- Need vision improvement to see objects near and far
- Want a smooth transition between lenses
- Need to be able to see in most conditions without switching eyewear
Multifocal lenses provide a variety of benefits, but:
- Cost more than regular lenses
- Take some time to get used to
Many people find progressive lenses to be the best option for them. There is an adjustment period where your eyes get used to them. After this, many find their vision to be better than with bifocals or trifocals.
Types of Multifocal Contact Lenses
In general, there are two different types of multifocal contact lenses.
Simultaneous Vision Design
These lenses are a bifocal or multifocal design. The lens’s center either contains the refractive power for distance or near vision. Multifocal designs in this category usually have two or more distinct zones of two different powers.
These lenses have a zone for distance vision, located in the upper and central zones of the lens, and a separate zone for near vision located in the lens's lower half. Each zone is separated by a visible line.
Segmented designs are always rigid gas permeable lenses. Soft contact lenses are available as simultaneous multifocal designs.
Multifocal, Bifocal & Trifocal Lenses: What's The Difference?
Multifocal lenses offer a gradual transition between near and far vision prescriptions. They allow you to read (close up) and look up from reading (intermediate) without changing lenses.
Bifocal and trifocal glasses feature a sharp edge between the close-up and far-off part of the prescription. It’s a harsher change, whereas multifocal lenses offer a progressive or gradual transition.
Bifocal contact lenses and glasses offer two distinct optical powers. In most cases, they are for people with presbyopia and myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism. This type of lens offers correction for objects both near and far.
Triifocals also provide an added viewing zone for intermediate vision. Intermediate vision refers to objects that are just a few feet away, like a computer screen. You’ll be able to see objects near, far, and in the intermediate range without changing eyewear.
Like bifocals, people tend to need trifocals as they age, and their vision weakens.
Trifocal lenses include three different prescriptions. There are visible lines on the lenses separating each prescription.
Multifocal, or progressive lenses, provide a smooth transition between distance and close vision. They allow you to switch between looking at objects near and far without having to change eyewear.
Unlike bifocal and trifocal lenses, multifocals have a progressive power of correction from the top to the bottom of the lens. This eases eye strain and is closer to natural vision transitions. I
Progressive lenses are fully customized. They allow you to see clearly at any distance without switching from one prescription to another.
Vision Center recommends Warby Parker progressive lenses.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Multifocal Lenses?
- You must hold reading materials at arm’s length to see the words clearly
- You suffer from eye strain, eye fatigue, or headaches when reading or writing
- Your vision becomes blurry when you’re driving and look away from the road and at the speedometer or other vehicle gauges
- You notice the quality of your vision changing from early in the morning and as the day wears on
- You must carry multiple pairs of corrective eyewear to see clearly, whether you’re reading, driving, or wearing sunglasses
In this article
Best Places to Buy Glasses
Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.
Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.
Best on a Budget
EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.
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1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.
GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.