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Single Vision Lenses vs. Progressive Lenses: How to Choose

If you’ve been wearing prescription glasses for years and then you suddenly start to experience eye strain or blurry vision, it can be worrying. As your eye doctor will tell you, though, this is common as you get older, and there’s a simple solution: progressive lenses. The question is, what’s the difference between single vision lenses vs. progressive lenses?

Let’s compare the two lens options to understand why you may need to make the switch to progressive lenses. We’ll also look at where to get your next pair of glasses, so they not only restore your clear vision but enhance your natural style, too.

Single Vision Lenses vs. Progressive Lenses: Which Do You Need?

Single vision lenses vs progressive: man holding 2 pairs of eyeglasses

Prescription lenses help to correct vision problems of different kinds — and because your vision needs change with time, your prescription might, too. That’s why it’s important to have regular eye exams to make sure you’re always getting the right type of vision correction, whether that’s single vision or progressive glasses.

Single vision lenses vs. progressive lenses — they each have very specific purposes, and you may need each of them at different times in your life. Let’s take a closer look at these two types of glasses.

What Are Single Vision Lenses?

Single vision prescriptions help to correct either nearsightedness or farsightedness, as well as astigmatism if necessary. But what do these terms mean exactly?

Myopia (nearsightedness) is caused by a slightly long eyeball, which focuses the light that enters your eye in front of your retina rather than on it. This makes it difficult to see objects that are far away so you may struggle with driving, watching a stage production, or keeping track of your child on the sports field. Your optometrist will likely prescribe single vision distance glasses to help with your distance vision.

Hyperopia (farsightedness) is the result of a short eyeball, so the light focuses behind your retina. You’ll struggle to see objects that are close to you and you may need glasses for anything that involves near vision, like reading a book or a message on your mobile phone. Single vision lenses correct your vision so you can read.

Single vision glasses can also correct for astigmatism, which is caused by an irregularly shaped cornea or crystalline lens in your eye. This scatters the light entering your eye, creating multiple focal points and making it difficult to focus properly. Depending on how serious your astigmatism is, your prescription will show a certain number of diopters, which is how astigmatism is measured. Your lenses will then be made with a specific curve to compensate for the shape of your eye, as well as for your myopia or hyperopia.

The right lenses can correct each of these vision problems, helping the glasses wearer to see clearly again.

What Are Progressive Lenses?

Woman holding 3 pairs of eyeglasses

Progressive lenses often enter the picture as you mature and start to experience another common eye condition: presbyopia. As you get older, your eyes lose some of their flexibility and can no longer focus light correctly on the retina. This makes it harder to see objects clearly when they’re close-up. It’s worth noting that this is a different type of refractive error from farsightedness.

If you haven’t needed glasses before, a simple pair of over-the-counter reading glasses might sort this out. However, over-the-counter glasses aren’t always the best quality, and you may be better off with prescription glasses.

If you also have any of the other vision problems we’ve mentioned, you’ll now need more than one prescription to see clearly throughout your day. This is where the question of single vision lenses vs. progressive lenses comes into play.

One solution is having multiple pairs of single-vision glasses that you use for different activities. If you prefer not to keep changing your glasses all day, though, the answer is multifocal lenses.

Bifocal Lenses or Trifocal Lenses

Multifocal eyewear can be bifocal — meaning it includes two different prescriptions — or trifocal — meaning three prescriptions. The lenses are made up of several sections, each with a different prescription. Up until fairly recently, multifocal lenses had a hard, visible line between those sections — not the most attractive feature.

Luckily, technology has progressed enormously, and we now have progressive lenses.

Progressive Glasses: The New Bifocal Eyeglasses

Progressive lenses are also made up of different sections with different prescriptions, but rather than being separated by a line, they blend into one another. This lens type looks a lot less old-fashioned, and your optician will probably recommend it because progressive lenses help your eyes to easily and naturally shift between the different fields of vision.

Here’s how it works: At the bottom of your lens is the section for near vision, so you can look down to read or work close-up. The top of the glasses lenses is for distance vision when you look up and out. In the center is a transition section that helps you see in the middle distance — for example, when you’re looking at your computer screen.

Although they do tend to be more expensive than single-vision glasses, this all-in-one solution can simplify your life tremendously.

Keep in mind that it can take a few weeks to get used to your new progressive glasses. During that time, you might experience some symptoms like blurry vision, disorientation, or headaches. If you continue to wear your glasses and practice basic eyecare — like regularly taking breaks to change focus, getting enough sleep, and drinking plenty of water — your eyes and brain should soon adjust.

If your symptoms persist beyond a month, though, visit your eye doctor to make sure your prescription is correct and so you can be checked for any other problems.

Where to Get Your Single Vision or Progressive Lenses

3 pairs of eyeglasses

Now that you know the difference between single vision lenses vs. progressive lenses, you may be wondering where you can get your new pair of glasses.

A great place to start is with Pair Eyewear. Pair has a wide range of glasses to suit every taste — as well as to complement countless looks, especially if you’re someone who likes to change your style depending on your activities, your mood, or your outfit.

Start by choosing a Base Frame that suits your face shape, which could be round, oval, or more angular. You can use our Virtual Try-On feature to explore what works best for you. Virtual Try-On allows you to take a picture of your face and then see what you’d look like with the different Base Frames.

Once you’ve found your perfect Base Frame, choose from our huge selection of Top Frames, which magnetically clip to the Base Frame. Between our Classic Designs, Limited Edition collections, and Collabs that partner with well-known brands, you’re bound to find one — or more — that you like. Then keep your choices safe in a Glasses Case, a Top Frame Case, or a Wall Hanger.

At Pair Eyewear, we cater to different types of prescriptions, from single vision to progressive lenses, and you can add optional extras, too. For example, if you work a lot on a computer, we highly recommend blue light filters to protect your eyes. And if your day often takes you both indoors and out, light-responsive lenses can make a big difference, as they automatically darken when the light gets brighter and vice versa.

You could also select premium plus lenses, which are extremely thin and lightweight. We recommend these if your prescription is high and fairly complex, which would normally mean heavier glasses.

It’s good to know that all Pair Eyewear is anti-reflective, scratch-resistant, and blocks 100% of UV rays.

Single Vision Lenses vs. Progressive Lenses: A Natural Transition

There are several different kinds of vision challenges. Many of them, like myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism, only require single vision lenses. As you get older, though, and your vision changes, you may need to add a prescription for presbyopia to your eyewear.

With more than one prescription, you’ll either need a couple of pairs of glasses or a pair of multifocal glasses. Progressive lenses are the new multifocals, allowing a smooth transition between near vision and distance vision.

Get your progressive lenses at Pair Eyewear today. Our stylish selection not only looks good but also keeps you seeing clearly, no matter what your day brings.