What Are Progressive Lenses?

Do you feel like you are constantly switching around your usual prescription glasses or your non prescription reading glasses throughout the day to see clearly at distance and up close? Are you curious about how progressive lenses work? Learn more about these commonly prescribed lenses and determine with your eye doctor whether they’re right for you.

How Do Progressive Lenses Work?

Progressive lenses are specialized eyeglass lenses that have different prescriptions as the wearer looks up and down the lens. Some people call these types of lenses a no-line bifocal. They should not be confused with transition lenses that tint when you go outside.

Unlike reading glasses that are often placed lower towards the tip of the nose so as not to affect distance vision, progressives can be worn normally and sit centered around the eyes. Progressive lenses can be built into most frame styles and shapes and can even be filled as sunglasses. 

Progressive lenses correct for computer length or intermediate range below the fitting height of the lenses in addition to correcting for distance through the top and reading at the bottom.

Who Needs Progressive Lenses?

Progressive lenses are a great option if you have a different prescription for distance and near vision. As we age, our near vision gets weaker. This condition is called presbyopia, and as a result, many of us require a reading prescription.

How Do Progressive Lenses Work?

Progressive lenses are complex in the way that they are designed. However, these lenses are very easy to use.

When properly fitted, a patient can simply look straight through the top of the lens and have sharp vision for distant objects. As the eyes slowly gaze downward through the bottom of the lens, there is magnification in the lens that “progressively” gets stronger. 

This gradual change in prescription going down the lens means that the wearer will be able to see clearly at intermediate ranges (such as for a desktop or laptop) before getting to the full reading prescription at the bottom. You would work with your eye doctor to determine how much of a reading prescription is necessary based on your daily tasks and what you are trying to focus on.

What Are Progressive Lenses, and How Are They Different From Bifocals?

Progressive lenses and bifocals are not the same types of glasses, and each provides specific benefits to your eyes. Learn more about how to tell the difference between these two reading aids and how progressive lenses work to improve your vision.

How Do Progressive Lenses Look?

Progressive lenses can be a solution for people who need help seeing both far-away and close-up objects. They look like normal glasses, but when you’re wearing them, you’ll notice a difference in the way you see when you look through the top, middle, and bottom of the lens.

Do Progressive Lenses Have Lines?

No, progressive lenses don’t have lines. Bifocals and trifocals are designed to delineate where the prescription changes (for bifocals, it’s two sections divided by one line, and for trifocals, you’ll see three sections divided by two lines). 

Should Progressive Lenses Be Worn All the Time?

Progressive lenses are designed to provide flexibility in terms of vision. Therefore it’s recommended to wear these lenses whenever you need clear vision at distance, intermediate and/or near.  Like any other prescription glasses, it’s okay to take short breaks throughout the day especially when not doing visually demanding tasks.

Whenever you’re adjusting to new lenses, it’s essential to wear them as much as possible.  It’s difficult for eyes to adapt to any new prescription only worn intermittently.

How Long Does It Take To Adjust to Progressive Lenses?

The process of adjusting to progressive lenses is different from that of single-vision lenses. Expect it to take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to completely adjust to progressive lenses.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Progressive Lenses?

Progressive lenses are an excellent visual tool but are not appropriate for everyone. Before going to your appointment, consider the pros and cons of progressive lenses. 


If you have several pairs of glasses used for multiple purposes, you may enjoy trading your collection for one pair of progressive lenses instead. Progressive lenses can eliminate the need to switch eyeglasses frequently.

Like bifocals or trifocals, these handy lenses use a tiered prescription that gradually changes depending on which part of the lens you’re looking through. This can be useful for people who frequently forget their reading glasses or are simply tired of switching back and forth.


Progressive lenses take a while to adjust to. They’re also more expensive than single-vision or bifocal glasses. You may notice distortion around the sides of your lenses, called peripheral distortion, when you’re adapting to these lenses. In rare instances, this phenomenon persists even after the adjustment period. For other people, the constant “switching” between prescriptions, even gradually, can cause headaches, eyestrain, or nausea.

It’s important to have your eyes examined to ensure that you have the right prescription for progressive lenses, and it’s also crucial to speak to your eye doctor to determine whether you’re a good candidate for these lenses before making the change.

What Alternatives to Progressive Lenses Are There?

When you’re struggling with your vision, it may not be for the reason you think. Yes, you may be ready for progressive lenses if you’re over 40 and have a hard time finding the right reading glasses — but a different issue may entirely cause your issues.

Suppose you’re not ready for how progressive lenses work. In that case, you and your eye doctor may investigate the following options:

  • Bifocals or trifocals that have clear lines marking the changes in prescription
  • Specialized “computer” glasses that help your eyes adjust to computer work (about 24 inches in front of your eyes)
  • An upgraded prescription for existing glasses that address your latest concerns

How Will Progressive Lenses Work for You? Schedule Your Appointment Today

If you’re wondering how progressive lenses work or whether they’re the right choice for your unique eyes, we’re here for you. If you are interested in new lenses, schedule an appointment with True Eye Experts today.

Our experienced and knowledgeable doctors will examine your vision, give you their recommendations, and determine whether progressive lenses are


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