Types of Progressive Lenses

Shopping for No-Line Bifocals

Progressive lenses, or no-line bifocals, are worn for the correction of presbyopia. Many people who require the use of a bifocal prefer progressive lenses because they give a more youthful appearance and are more functional. The lenses contain no visible line and progressively increase in strength as you move your eyes down the lenses.

All progressive lenses are not the same. They differ in price, depending on brand, size, and function. Progressive lenses must fit precisely. Even with a perfect fit, however, many people have trouble adjusting to progressive lenses. Below are four types of progressive lenses.


Standard Progressive Lenses

Progressive Lenses
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If you are looking for an alternative to bifocals or trifocals, standard progressive lenses will work for most people and fit most budgets. Although the price of standard progressive lenses is higher than regular flat-top bifocal or trifocal lenses, they are still quite affordable.

Depending on brand name, standard progressive lenses range in price from $175-250 for the base lenses.

Standard progressive lenses will give you a fairly wide reading area, but require a certain sized frame to allow enough vertical height to give a smooth transition from distance vision down to reading. If too short a frame is chosen, the most useful reading power may be cut off when the lenses are manufactured.


Short Corridor Progressive Lenses

Gone are the days of having to sacrifice fashion for progressive lenses. Slightly more expensive than standard progressive lenses, short corridor progressive lenses are designed to fit into smaller frames. Because of their size, however, it takes a skilled optician to fit them properly.

You may have difficulty adapting to short corridor progressive lenses because the "corridor" for reading vision is not very wide, causing distortion when you look outside of the corridor. If you look down to read, make sure you look straight ahead, not out to the sides. These specialty lenses range from $250-400.

Benefits: You can choose a smaller frame than previously possible.

Disadvantages: You may have difficulty adapting to short corridor progressive lenses because the "corridor" for reading vision is not very wide, causing distortion when you look outside of the corridor.


Computer Progressive Lenses

Computer progressive lenses, also known as "office lenses" or "near variable focus lenses," are designed for use in office and are intended to provide clear vision at around 16 inches to 6 feet. If you use a computer for more than four hours per day, these lenses are ideal and help alleviate visual fatigue, or computer vision syndrome.

Computer progressive lenses are great for people needing clear vision at intermediate and near distances such as painters, artists, dentists, librarians, hair dressers, mechanics, draftsmen, and editors.

These lenses also allow for better posture, making it easier to hold your head in a more natural position. Computer progressive lenses generally range in price from $150-250.

Benefits: Computer lenses dramatically increase visual comfort and eye strain. Wearing a regular progressive lens instead of a computer lens often creates a stiff neck as you try to hold your head to clear your vision by looking through a different part of the lens.

Disadvantages: Computer lenses are a dedicated pair of eyeglasses so you will still need your regular every-day glasses for everything else.


Premium Progressive Lenses

Premium progressive lenses are often referred to as "free-form design" or "wave-front technology." Premium progressive lenses provide a much wider, distortion-free reading area. Vision is often clearer, as these lenses are usually 100 percent digitally surfaced or ground.

These lenses are computer designed with small changes to allow both eyes to work together. They often incorporate the fact that you have a dominant eye.

This customizes the prescription for you as well as the frame you desire. Instead of compacting a lens design, as with a short corridor progressive, the lens is totally customized so that all ranges of power fit nicely into any frame.

As expected, these lenses are more expensive than standard or entry-level progressive lenses. These lenses range from $600-800.

BenefitsPremium progressive lenses are custom designs to fit both your chosen eyeglass frame, your prescription, and your own eye anatomy. They are generally much easier to adapt to and have much less “swim,” effect or feeling dizzy with head movements. Sometimes, these lenses feel like not wearing a multifocal lens at all.

Disadvantages: Premium progressive lenses tend to cost more than regular progressive lenses. Even with vision plans, the co-pays tend to be much higher. These lenses must be purchased through a doctor’s office that has the added technology to take digital measurements required to manufacture these lenses.


Ground-view Progressive Lenses

Ground-view progressive lenses are good for active patients who like outdoor activities such as golf. These progressive lenses have patented technology that dramatically reduces lens distortions. They provide a “ground-view” advantage that is supposed to resemble natural vision. These lenses range from $350-550.

Benefits: A ground view progressive lens provides another area at the bottom and sides of the lens that allows for better vision when looking down at the ground, using the computer, or driving.

One particular benefit is that golfers can look down passed the reading part and there is another intermediate zone that provides clear vision at an intermediate length…about where the ball is on the ground. A regular progressive lens may cause that area to be blurry and not in focus.

Disadvantages: Although often lower than premium progressive lenses, they still tend to cost more than standard progressive lenses. Also, they are only available from a couple of manufacturers.


Transitions Progressive Lenses

Transitions lenses tend to get confused with progressive lenses. Transitions is simply a brand of a photochromatic lens. A photochromatic lenses darkens automatically when exposed to ultraviolet light. They provide shade for the eyes. When you walk back indoors, they quickly change to clear again.

Photochromatic lenses are generally anywhere from $80-150 above the regular price for a progressive lens.

Benefits: Photochromatic lenses provide to have one pair of glasses for indoors and outdoors. They adapt to changing light environments.

Disadvantages: Photochromatic lenses sometimes do not darken as dark as you would like in the automobile. Automobile manufacturers put UV protection in the windshield of most cars so the amount of UV light that enters the car and hits your lenses is not as strong. You may still wish to have a pair of regular sunglasses.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many types of progressive eyeglass lenses are there?

    There are five types of eyeglass lenses that can correct for more than type of vision issue: standard, short-corridor, computer, premium, and ground view.

  • Do I need large frames for progressive lenses?

    You may if you're opting for standard progressive lenses. If you prefer a smaller eyeglass frame, you may be able to have them custom-fitted with short-corridor progressive lenses, which are engineered to provide optimal vision for small frames.

  • What are some alternatives to progressive lenses?

    Aside from switching back and forth between glasses with different prescriptions or opting for regular bifocal or trifocal lenses (with or without visible lines), there are a few options to consider:

    • Multifocal intraocular lenses, a type of lens used in cataract surgery
    • Laser blended vision surgery, a type of LASIK surgery
    • Multifocal contact lenses
    • Clip-on lenses with each of your prescriptions
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4 Sources
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