Updated on 

October 25, 2021

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Single Vision Lenses

What are Single Vision Lenses?

Single vision lenses have only one prescription for a given distance. Most reading glasses and distance glasses have single vision lenses because they’re for people who have trouble seeing either near or far. Some people are able to use their single vision glasses for both far and near, depending on their type of prescription.

You might choose to wear single vision reading glasses to correct your eyesight if you have difficulty reading text on your phone or computer screen, for example. Meanwhile, you might wear single vision distance glasses to help you make out traffic signs while driving.

Single vision lenses for wearers with farsightedness are thicker at the center than single vision lenses for wearers with nearsightedness, which are thicker at the edges. Despite this subtle difference, single vision lenses generally range between 3-4mm in thickness. The thickness varies depending on the size of the frame and lens material chosen.

There are many of benefits to wearing single vision lenses beyond restoring your ability to see clearly:

  • Single vision lenses may boost the overall quality of your life with improved visual health and acuity
  • Single vision lenses can help relieve you of eye strain and ensuing fatigue and migraines
  • Single vision lenses, like all types of eyeglass lenses, will help to protect your eyes from impact, trauma, and common irritants like dust, sand, and insects

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 simply 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, however, 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 all types of visual needs with eyeglasses or contact lenses. Glasses with single vision lenses, for example, can correct the following 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

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, and it blocks 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, as well as 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 like asphalt, snow, and water. 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

Comparatively, eyewear can have bifocal or progressive lenses. 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, generally within one meter. The upper portion of the lens helps them see clearly beyond that distance.

trifocal glasses

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

While bifocals and progressive lenses correct vision in people with more than one refractive error, you may only need single vision lenses, which tend to be less expensive.

How Much Do Single Vision Lenses Cost?

Consumers spend an average of $400 on frames and lenses at eye doctors and independent eyeglass shops without vision insurance. Keep in mind that higher-end brands like Warby Parker will have steeper prices than stores like Costco. 

Several other factors will impact the cost of your eyeglasses with single vision lenses, as well. 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 Eyeglass Rule, your optician must give you your prescription at no extra cost (whether or not you ask for it). You should take that prescription to shop around to find a pair of glasses with single vision lenses that fit your budget.

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 Houlis earned her B.A. in Journalism & New Media with a double minor in Creative Writing and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Gettysburg College. She spent several years as an editor at the helm of New York City's lifestyle scene before transitioning into full-time freelance writing from all corners of the globe. A full-time traveler, AnnaMarie's work is inspired by her fieldwork in communities around the world and grounded in extensive, expert-backed research. Her mission is to empower readers everywhere with the knowledge and resources they need—for their eye health, included.
Author: AnnaMarie Houlis  | UPDATED October 25, 2021
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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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