Updated on  February 20, 2024
4 min read

Multifocal Lenses

7 sources cited
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What are Multifocal Lenses? (Progressive Lenses)

Multifocal contacts, or progressive lenses, have multiple focusing powers. When you wear contact lenses like these, your vision improves at different distances.

In the past, one would think a multifocal lens would be for the older population, which is no longer the case. Anyone who uses multiple computer monitors, multitasks, or reads things benefits from having a lens design that meets those same demands. The latest multifocal lenses can be customized to the working distance of an individual, personalized to the shape of one’s face and accurate distance between the eyes, and are lightweight and thin in appearance. Most even incorporate anti-reflective properties to reduce glare when driving or using digital devices.

Dora Adamopoulos, OD, CEO of Eye2Eye and SomaSou

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

Moreover, multifocal lenses:

  • Have separate sections of focusing power blend
  • In most cases, they have a prescription for nearsightedness, farsightedness, and intermediate distances
  • Correct age-related vision problems
  • They offer a gradual or progressive switch between farsightedness and nearsightedness correction
  • They 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

What are the Benefits of Multifocal Lenses?

Some benefits of multifocal lenses include:

1. Better Vision at All Distances

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

2. Comfort and Convenience

Multifocal lenses provide great convenience since you don’t have to switch between different glasses. You can also avoid the discomfort of adjusting your vision when constantly changing between other glasses. It’s also convenient to wear the same pair of glasses all day.

3. 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

Bifocals

Bifocal contacts and glasses offer two distinct optical powers. In most cases, they’re for people with presbyopia and myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism. This type of lens corrects objects both near and far. 

Trifocals

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 things near, far, and in the intermediate range without changing your eyewear.

Like bifocals, people 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.

Multifocals

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, multifocal lenses 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 also fully customizable. They allow you to see clearly at any distance without switching from one prescription to another.

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
  • 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 eyewear to see clearly, whether you’re reading, driving, or wearing sunglasses

Many people find progressive lenses to be the best option for them. There’s an adjustment period where your eyes get used to them. After this, your vision might improve by using bifocals or trifocals.

Summary

Multifocals (progressive lenses) provide multiple focusing powers for people with refractive errors. These lenses offer excellent vision without switching eyewear. In some cases, they’re 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  February 20, 2024
7 sources cited
Updated on  February 20, 2024
  1. Salerno et al. “Multifocal intraocular lenses: Types, outcomes, complications and how to solve them.” Taiwan Journal of Ophthalmology, 2017.
  2. Remón et al. “Bifocal and Multifocal Contact Lenses for Presbyopia and Myopia Control.” Journal of Ophthalmology, 2020.
  3. Lazarus, R. “Guide to Bifocals and Multifocals.” Optometrists Network, 2020.
  4. Alvarez et al. “Adaptation to Progressive Additive Lenses: Potential Factors to Consider.” Scientific Reports, 2017.
  5. De Lestrange-Anginieur et al. “Optical performance of progressive addition lenses (PALs) with astigmatic prescription.” Scientific Reports, 2021.
  6. Mukamal, R. “Pros and Cons of Progressive Lenses.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2023.
  7. Progressives.” Warby Parker.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.