If you have been wearing single vision eyeglasses for a long time and want to switch it up a bit, you may be considering progressive eyeglasses or bifocal eyeglasses. Maybe you are new to wearing eyeglasses and heard good things about these two alternatives to single vision lenses. Whatever your reason may be, there are some important things to know about progressive and bifocal lenses that you should be aware of before you buy them.
Progressive eyeglasses are very different than single vision eyeglasses. Most people think that they can make the switch easily, and barely notice a difference. Indeed this is true for some people, but for most, progressive eyeglasses take getting used to. Some people even give up on them and switch back to using single vision lenses.
Progressives are lenses made up of three different prescriptions within them. The top is the lowest prescription (meant for distance), the middle is a bit stronger, and the lowest portion is the strongest (meant for reading or short distance). There are no lines separating them. Unlike single vision lenses where you use only one prescription for viewing everything, progressive lenses are made to be used three different ways for three different distances.
If you are new to using progressives, it is recommended that you choose a larger frame to start. This allows for each of the three prescriptions to occupy more of the lens (a bigger frame = a bigger lens), therefore allowing your eyes to have more room to get used to all three Rx powers. Although they might seem awkward at first, people who use progressive lenses often use nothing else.
If you enjoy having only one prescription for short and long distance but need something stronger for reading, you may be interested in bifocal eyeglasses. Bifocal eyeglasses are basically a cross between single vision and progressive lenses, but with a little twist. The general prescription your doctor gives you will cover the majority of the lens. Towards the bottom of the lens there will be a line, which marks the top of the reading portion. The prescription of the reading portion is determined by the “add power”, which your doctor also includes in your Rx.
Bifocal eyeglasses are to be used normally, just like you would use a pair of single vision eyeglasses. However, you will use the bottom reading portion when something is too close to see clearly with the top/middle portion. Bifocal eyeglasses are great for people who read a lot, write, or do lots of paperwork. They are also much easier to adjust to than progressive eyeglasses.