Updated on  February 21, 2024
4 min read

What Are Single-Vision Lenses?

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If you need glasses to improve your sight at a single distance, single-vision lenses may be right for you. This article covers everything you need to know about single-vision glasses, including cost and how they compare to other lens types. Only an eye doctor can recommend the best lens type for your needs. 

What Are Single-Vision Lenses?

Single-vision lenses correct vision at only one distance, near or far away. They’re the most common type of lenses in prescription glasses and reading glasses

When you wear single-vision glasses, the entire lens provides one correction value. That means the glasses will treat nearsightedness or farsightedness, but not both. 

What Is the Difference Between Single-Vision and Multifocal Lenses?

Multifocal lenses correct vision at multiple distances. In contrast, single-vision lenses provide clear sight at only one distance. Single-vision glasses are for people with only one refractive error.

Multifocal lens types include:

  • Bifocal lenses
  • Trifocal lenses
  • Progressive lenses
Types of Glasses Lenses

Single-Vision vs. Bifocal Lenses

Bifocal lenses have two focal lengths. People who need help seeing close-up images and distant objects may benefit from wearing bifocal glasses.

The lower portion of the lens helps wearers to view near objects. The upper portion of the lens helps them see clearly at a distance.

Single-Vision vs. Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses also help you see up close and far away. Unlike bifocals, progressives have no visible line separating the focal zones. Instead, the progressive lens has an intermediate visual field between the near and far corrective zones. 

Where to Buy Glasses + Contacts

Best Overall: Warby Parker

Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect

Also Great: Liingo

Best Place to Buy Contacts: Discount 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. 

This lens type is much lighter and thinner than a traditional plastic lens. They’re also scratch-resistant, making them an ideal lens material for children and active people.

Additionally, they block the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, offering maximum UV protection.

1.57 Mid-Index Single-Vision

This is one of the thinnest and lightest lens materials available. Mid-index lenses are ideal for people with higher prescriptions. 

Typically, a stronger prescription means a thicker lens. However, this thin and lightweight lens material can handle prescriptions between +/- 4.00 and +/- 5.00 and below.

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.

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, such as:

  • Your prescription
  • Any lens coatings (anti-reflective coating, blue light filtering, etc.)
  • Your frame material
  • Where you live
  • Where you shop for your glasses

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 for a pair of glasses with single-vision lenses that fit your budget.

What Refractive Errors Can Single Vision Lenses Correct?

A refractive error means that the shape of your eye’s cornea or lens bends light incorrectly. The result is blurry vision. Various types of refractive errors affect your eyesight in different ways.

Each can cause the following symptoms:

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

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

Single-vision glasses can correct the most common refractive errors:

1. Myopia

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

2. Hyperopia

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

3. Presbyopia

Presbyopia refers to decreased near vision that occurs as a normal result of the aging process. It occurs when people over age 40 begin to have trouble seeing up-close objects clearly. Single-vision reading lenses can help.

4. Astigmatism

Astigmatism is a condition that can cause blurry vision at all distances. It occurs when the eye is shaped more like an oval than a round sphere. 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


Single-vision lenses provide vision correction at one distance (near or far). They’re ideal for people who have trouble seeing objects up close or far away, but not both. There are various types of single-vision lenses made of different materials. 

An eye exam is necessary to determine your vision prescription. Consult an eye doctor to find out whether single-vision lenses are right for you.

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

Discount Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.

glasses usa logo
Also Great

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

Updated on  February 21, 2024
9 sources cited
Updated on  February 21, 2024
  1. Ardura, N. “5 Solid Benefits of Using Eyeglasses.” Vienna Eyecare Center, 2017. 
  2. Corrective Lenses for Refractive Error.” NYU Langone Hospitals. 
  3. Polarized Lenses and How They Work.” Dr. Floyd Smith, 2013.  
  4. Eyeglass Stores.” Consumer Reports, 2023. 
  5. The Many Benefits of Wearing Eyeglasses.” Family Vision Development Center, 2019. 
  6. How to Choose Your Lenses?” Vlook Optical, 2019. 
  7. Eyewear Lenses.” Medical Eye Center. 
  8. Refractive Errors.” National Eye Institute, 2023.
  9. Boyd, K. “What Is Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2023.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.