Updated on 

April 29, 2022

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Trifocal Eyeglass Lenses

What Are Trifocal Glasses?

Trifocals are multifocal eyewear that offer different lens corrections. Visible lines divide the lens into three segments, including:

  • Distance vision. This could include driving or looking at a whiteboard.
  • Intermediate vision. Card playing and staring at the computer screen fall within this range of vision.
  • Near vision. Close-up reading is a common example.

This type of multifocal glasses corrects eye conditions like presbyopia and cataracts. 

Types of Glasses Lenses

Types of Trifocal Lenses

The are two main types of trifocal lenses available, including:

  • Flat top trifocal lenses. The near and intermediate vision zones are arranged in a D-shape. This shape allows for improved peripheral vision. These lenses are usually easy for people to adjust to.
  • Executive trifocal lenses. The intermediate zone of this lens is thinner than flat top trifocals. They may take longer to get used to wearing.
  • Progressive lenses. Progressive lenses aren't exactly trifocal lenses. They correct the same problems, but don't have "hard lines." Many people prefer progressive lenses over trifocals. However, they are typically more expensive.

Vision Center recommends progressive lenses from Warby Parker.

Where to Buy Glasses + Contacts

Best Overall: Warby Parker

Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect

Also Great: Liingo

Best Place to Buy Contacts: 1800 Contacts

What Vision Problems Can Trifocal Eyeglass Lenses Correct?

Trifocals can provide vision correction for some eye conditions, including:

Presbyopia

Between the ages of 40 and 60, people's eyesight starts to deteriorate. The eye’s natural lens no longer retains flexibility and is unable to focus at near. This is known as presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness.

Wearing trifocals can help correct blurred vision, eye strain, and headaches. 

Cataracts

Aging or other factors like diabetes may lead to clouding of the eye’s lens, known as cataracts. When the lens is not clear, objects and surroundings may appear blurry, distorted, or less colorful.

However, a trifocal intraocular lens (IOL) placed during cataract surgery can resolve cataracts. Implanting this artificial lens replacement may even lower the chances of needing glasses post surgery.

cataracts scaled e1598035826129

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.1 million Americans aged 40 years and older are estimated to have at least a cataract in one eye. 

Pros and Cons of Trifocals

Trifocal lenses offer both advantages and disadvantages. Some of those benefits include:

  • Three different ranges of vision
  • Better focus at a distance of an arm’s length
  • Easy adjustment from standard bifocals or other eyewear 

Some of the drawbacks include:

  • Visible lines across the lenses
  • Limited customization options
  • Possible need to change eye prescription with age 

Trifocals vs. Bifocal Lenses

Bifocal Lens - Vision Center

Trifocals and bifocal lenses are similar in that both types usually have lines to distinguish different ranges of vision. Bifocals correct distance vision problems in two segments (bottom half for reading and top half for far vision).

Trifocal Lens - Vision Center

Trifocal lenses, however, offer three viewing zones for better overall sight.

Eye care professionals may recommend the usage of bifocals or other multifocal lenses to treat myopia in children. Previous studies have demonstrated the use of such lenses contributes to minimal reductions in myopia progression. 

What Is The Difference Between Trifocals And Progressive Lenses?

Trifocal Lens - Vision Center

Trifocals have noticeable lines that run across lenses. This can lead to an “image jump.” This occurs when there is a sudden change in both clarity and the perceived position of an object in sight.

Progressive Lens - Vision Center

Progressive lenses do not have lines and are much more gradual from one prescription segment to the next. Also, because there are no lines, progressive lenses tend to have a more aesthetically-pleasing look than trifocals.

Progressive lenses are more expensive than trifocals. Progressive lenses provide better sight at different ranges of vision without any obstruction caused by lines. 

Progressives take some time to get used to. No visible lines means no visual guidance for the eyes.  

It will take time to learn to perform different tasks. Because of this, some may experience nausea or feel off balanced during the learning period. 

Vision Center recommends progressive lenses from Warby Parker.

When Are Multifocal Contact Lenses Necessary?

Multifocal contact lenses are available for those not interested in wearing trifocal eyeglasses regularly. It is important to speak with an eye care professional beforehand to determine if such contact lenses are the most suitable option. 

As with any type of contact lenses, there is an increased risk of developing an eye infection. 

How Much Do Trifocal Glasses Cost?

Trifocal lenses are more expensive than average single-vision lenses. Costs of trifocals will vary according to an individual’s prescriptions and needs. For example, progressive lenses that offer three different vision ranges can amount to $260.

This price can be even higher with material customization and additional coatings like anti-scratch or anti-reflection. 

If you are considering buying trifocal eyewear, it is important to consult your eye care specialist and learn more about the costs, benefits, and alternatives. 

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.

7 Cited Research Articles
  1. “Alcon's Trifocal IOL Makes U.S. Debut.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 29 Aug. 2019, www.aao.org/headline/alcon-s-trifocal-iol-makes-u-s-debut.
  2. Bizer, Wayne F. “What Is the Difference between No-Line Bifocals, Progressive Bifocals and Trifocals?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 1 Mar. 2018, www.aao.org/eye-health/ask-ophthalmologist-q/bifocals-trifocals-differences.
  3. “Common Eye Disorders and Diseases.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 June 2020, www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/index.html.
  4. “Dry Eye Syndrome PPP - 2018.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 13 Nov. 2018, www.aao.org/preferred-practice-pattern/dry-eye-syndrome-ppp-2018.
  5. “How to Get the Best Eyeglass Lenses.” Consumer Reports, 2016, www.consumerreports.org/eyeglass-stores/how-to-get-the-best-eyeglass-lenses/.
  6. Kitchen, Clyde K. “Fact and Fiction of Healthy Vision.” Google Books, Google, books.google.es/books?id=x7sAAwAAQBAJ.
  7. “Pros and Cons of Progressive Lenses.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 29 June 2020, www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/pros-cons-progressive-lenses-computer-glasses.
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.
Anthony Armenta earned his B.A. in International Relations from the University of California, Irvine. After graduation, he decided to live abroad in Spain. Currently, he has spent the past 5 years working as a freelance health content writer and medical editor for different public hospitals in central Barcelona. He has covered different medical specialties from infectious diseases and pneumology to breast cancer and plastic surgery. His commitment to writing fact-driven, health-related content stems from the belief that such type of information can empower all individuals to take action and improve their health today.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/anthony/
Author: Anthony Armenta  | UPDATED April 29, 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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