Updated on  September 25, 2023
4 min read

Multifocal Lenses

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What are Multifocal Lenses? (Progressive Lenses)

Multifocal, or progressive lenses, have multiple focusing powers. This improves your vision at different distances.

Progressive lenses are appropriate when someone has multiple vision problems. Bifocals and trifocals have sharp lines between the different sections.

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.

Where to Buy Glasses + Contacts

Best Overall: Warby Parker

Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect

Also Great: Liingo

Best Place to Buy Contacts: 1800 Contacts

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 eye wear
  • Must hold reading materials at arm’s length to see the words clearly
  • Suffer from eye strain, eye fatigue, or headaches when reading or writing
  • Notice the quality of your vision changing from early in the morning as the day wears on
  • Must carry multiple pairs of corrective eye wear to see clearly, whether you’re reading, driving, or wearing sunglasses

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 improve from using bifocals or trifocals.

Types of Multifocal Contact Lenses

In general, there are two different types of multifocal contact lenses.

They are:

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.

Segmented Design

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.

Benefits of Multifocal Lenses

Some benefits of multifocal lenses include:

Better Vision at All Distances

Multifocal lenses allow you to see clearly at near, intermediate, and far distances without switching between different glasses. Reading books, using a computer, driving a car, and performing other tasks requiring clear vision at multiple distances is easier.

Comfort and Convenience

Since you don't have to switch between different pairs of glasses, multifocal lenses provide great convenience. You can also avoid the discomfort of having to adjust your vision when constantly switching between different glasses. It's also convenient enough so that you can wear the same pair of glasses all day.

Reduced Eye Strain

Multifocal lenses help reduce eye strain by providing clear vision at all distances. This means you don't have to strain your eyes to focus on objects at different distances, which can lead to headaches and fatigue.

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. 

Types of Glasses Lenses


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. 


Trifocals also provide an added viewing zone for intermediate vision. Intermediate vision refers to objects 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 eye wear.

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 changing 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.

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.


Multifocals (progressive lenses) provide multiple focusing powers for people with refractive errors. These lenses provide excellent vision without switching eye wear. They are, in some cases, a great alternative to bifocals and trifocals.

Best Places to Buy Glasses

Best Overall

Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.

Also Great

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.

Best Places to Buy Contacts

Best Overall

1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.

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Also Great

GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.

Updated on  September 25, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on  September 25, 2023
  1. Salerno LC, Tiveron MC Jr, Alió JL. "Multifocal intraocular lenses: Types, outcomes, complications and how to solve them." Taiwan J Ophthalmol, 2017.

  2. Remón L, Pérez-Merino P, Macedo-de-Araújo RJ, Amorim-de-Sousa AI, González-Méijome JM. "Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses for Presbyopia and Myopia Control." J Ophthalmol, 2020.

  3. Lazarus, R. "Guide to Bifocals and Multifocals." Optometrists Network, 2020.

  4. Alvarez TL, Kim EH, Granger-Donetti B. "Adaptation to Progressive Additive Lenses: Potential Factors to Consider." Sci Rep, 2017.

  5. De Lestrange-Anginieur, E., Kee, C.S. "Optical performance of progressive addition lenses (PALs) with astigmatic prescription." Sci Rep, 2021.

  6. Mukamal, R. "Pros and Cons of Progressive Lenses." American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2020.

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