Updated on 

May 2, 2022

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Single Vision Lenses

What are Single Vision Lenses?

Single vision lenses have only one prescription for farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism.

Most prescription glasses and reading glasses have single vision lenses.

Some people are able to use their single vision glasses for both far and near, depending on their type of prescription.

Single vision lenses for farsighted people are thicker at the center. Single vision lenses for wearers with nearsightedness are thicker at the edges.

Single vision lenses generally range between 3-4mm in thickness. The thickness varies depending on the size of the frame and lens material chosen.

Your eye care is important. Here’s what you should know about how single vision lenses can help you:

What Refractive Errors Can Single Vision Lenses Correct?

If your optician tells you that you have a refractive error, it means that the shape of your eye bends light incorrectly. The result is blurry vision. There are various types of refractive errors that each affect your eyesight in different ways.

Each can cause the following symptoms:

  • Blurry near or distance vision
  • Double vision
  • Seeing glare or halos around bright lights
  • Headaches
  • Eye fatigue
  • Eye soreness

Fortunately, you can correct nearly all types of visual needs with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Single vision glasses can correct the most common refractive errors:

Myopia

Myopia refers to nearsightedness. Objects that are far away can be difficult to see clearly. Single vision distance lenses can help.

Hyperopia

Hyperopia refers to farsightedness. Objects that are close up can be difficult to see clearly. Single vision reading lenses can help.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia refers to the loss of near vision due to age. Objects that are close up can be difficult to see clearly. Single vision reading lenses can help.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a condition that makes vision blurry at all distances because of the cornea’s asymmetric curvature. Both single vision reading lenses and single vision distance lenses can help you achieve clear vision.

graphic comparing normal vision, myopia refractive error, and hyperopia refractive error
Where to Buy Glasses + Contacts

Best Overall: Warby Parker

Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect

Also Great: Liingo

Best Place to Buy Contacts: 1800 Contacts

Types of Single Vision Lenses

There are a few different single vision lens options for vision correction. Here are three prescription lenses you should know:

1.59 Polycarbonate Single Vision

Polycarbonate single vision lenses are characterized by their durability and impact resistance. They often include an anti-scratch coating or anti-reflective coating.

This lens type is much lighter and thinner than a traditional plastic lens. They also block the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, offering maximum UV protection.

1.57 Mid-Index Single Vision

Mid-index single vision lenses are 15 percent thinner than regular plastic and moderately lighter and stronger. Like polycarbonate single vision lenses, they often feature an anti-scratch coating and an anti-reflective coating.

More importantly, these lenses are an ideal option for people with relatively higher prescriptions. However, they are not as thin as polycarbonate lenses.

Polarized Single Vision 

Polarized single vision lenses are sunglasses that protect your eyes from light that bounces off smooth, highly reflective surfaces.

The lenses work by controlling certain light properties and limiting specific wavelengths. They boast a vertical filter that doesn’t allow horizontal glare to pass through.

Single Vision vs. Bifocal Lenses vs. Progressive Lenses

Eyewear can have single vision, bifocal, or progressive lenses.

Types of Glasses Lenses

Bifocals and progressive lenses correct vision in people with more than one refractive error.

Bifocals have two focal lengths for anyone who needs help seeing both close-up images and objects at a distance. The lower portion of the lens helps wearers to view objects at near. The upper portion of the lens helps them see clearly beyond that distance.

Progressive lenses simply add an intermediate field of vision between the near and far corrective zones. 

Single vision lenses are for people with only one refractive error.

How Much Do Single Vision Lenses Cost?

Consumers spend an average of $400 on frames and lenses without vision insurance.

Several other factors will impact the cost of your eyeglasses.

Your prescription, any lens coatings (anti-reflective coating, blue light filtering, etc.), and your frame material, as well as where you live and where you shop for your glasses, may significantly change the price.

An eye exam is necessary to determine your vision prescription. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC's) Eyeglass Rule, your optician must give you your prescription at no extra cost. You should take that prescription to shop around to find a pair of glasses with single vision lenses that fit your budget.

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.

Also Great
glasses usa logo

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

13 Cited Research Articles
  1. Ardura, Nicole. “5 Solid Benefits of Using Eyeglasses.” Vienna Eyecare Center, 23 Apr. 2020, www.viennaeyecarecenter.com/5-solid-benefits-of-using-eyeglasses/
  2. “Corrective Lenses for Refractive Error.” Patient Care at NYU Langone Health, nyulangone.org/conditions/refractive-error/treatments/corrective-lenses-for-refractive-error 
  3. drfloyds1. “Polarized Lenses and How They Work.” Dr. Floyd Smith | Optometrist, Westwood, NJ 07675, 31 July 2013, drfloydsmith.com/polarized-lenses-and-how-they-work-3/.  
  4. “Eyeglass & Contact Lens Store Buying Guide.” Consumer Reports, www.consumerreports.org/cro/eyeglass-contact-lens-stores/buying-guide/index.htm
  5. Familyvision. “The Many Benefits of Wearing Eyeglasses.” Family Vision Development Center, 23 Apr. 2019, www.fvdcpc.com/2019/04/23/the-many-benefits-of-wearing-eyeglasses/
  6. “How to Choose Your Lenses?.” Vlook, vlookoptical.com/blog/chooseyourlenses/2/. 
  7. “Lens Options.” Medical Eye Center, 4 Sept. 2019, www.medicaleyecenter.com/specialties/optical/lens-options/
  8. “Refractive Errors.” National Eye Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/refractive-errors
  9. “Refractive Errors.” Refractive Errors | Kellogg Eye Center | Michigan Medicine, www.umkelloggeye.org/conditions-treatments/refractive-errors
  10. Ronit. “Single Vision Distance or Reading Lenses.” Becker Eye Care Center, beckereyecare.com/prescription-eyeglasses/single-vision-distance-or-reading-lenses-distance-lenses/. 
  11. “Types of Prescription Glasses – Multifocal and More.” Medical Eye Center, 11 Nov. 2018, www.medicaleyecenter.com/2018/11/11/types-prescription-eyeglasses/.
  12. “What Are Polycarbonate Lenses?” Doctor Of Eye, 14 Dec. 2017, doctorofeye.com/what-are-polycarbonate-lenses/. 
  13. “What Is Astigmatism?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 7 Sept. 2018, www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-astigmatism.
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
AnnaMarie’s work as a staff writer for Vision Center spans ophthalmology, optometry and basic optic procedures to preventative eye care. Inspired to help readers see the world more clearly, she writes about everything from finding the appropriate eyeglasses and contacts to treating and preventing eye diseases to getting corrective surgeries to improve vision.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/annamarie/
Author: AnnaMarie Houlis  | UPDATED May 2, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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