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Bifocal vs. Progressive Lenses: What’s the Difference?

The difference between progressive and bifocal lenses

Many people are unsure of the exact differences between bifocal and progressive lenses. While the two styles ultimately have the same end goal, there are some key differences to keep in mind. Read on to learn more about bifocal and progressive lenses, and see which style is right for you!

Bifocal Lenses

Bifocal lenses have two separate areas of vision correction. The areas are divided by a distinct line that sits horizontally across the lens. The top part of the lens is used for distance, while the bottom part is used for near vision. The part of the lens that is devoted to near vision can be shaped in a couple different ways:

  • A half-moon (also referred to as a flat-top, straight-top or D segment)
  • A round segment

Disadvantages of Bifocal Lenses

Bifocal lenses are yesterday’s technology and are usually only used if someone is the rare person who cannot adapt to progressive lenses or in young children whose eyes cross when they read. The reason they are becoming less utilized is that they do not provide intermediate vision. Most people who use computers find they don’t satisfy this visual need.

Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses are often referred to as “no line bifocals”. Similar to bifocals, they provide a graduated range of vision. The most visible difference is that progressive lenses don’t have the line that travels horizontally across a bifocal lens. The other main difference between progressive and bifocal lenses is that progressive lenses offer an intermediate vision distance, whereas bifocals only offer near and far.

Advantages of Progressive Lenses

Progressive lenses allow you to have the strength of bifocals, without having the visible seam in the lens. Another big advantage of progressive lenses is they eliminate a common problem caused by bifocal lenses called “image jump”, in which images seem to jump as your eyes move between the two parts of the lens.

Which Style is Right for Me?

It’s not uncommon for it to take some time for you to adapt to your new lenses – whether they be bifocals or progressives. It is usually recommended that people try progressive lenses first because of the better functionality with today’s visual needs. If you are unable to adapt to them a bifocal is the next lens to try. If you’re looking for new lenses, chat with your optometrist to see which lens style is right for you! The Vision Gallery has three locations across Edmonton and Beaumont to serve you better, give us a call today!

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