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Single-vision lenses vs. multifocal lenses: what should you choose?

Lensmart 2022-05-23 11:23:42

Your eye care doctor may have asked you a few times if you want single-vision lenses or multifocal lenses for your glasses. These terms are often confusing no matter how many times they’ve been explained. What is the difference between the two? What is the most suitable lens type for you? These questions are what this guide will discuss to help you with your choice.

Single-vision lenses vs. multifocal lenses

What are single-vision lenses?

A single-vision lens is a type of prescription lens that corrects a single-vision problem like astigmatism, farsightedness (hyperopia), or nearsightedness (myopia). Both lenses have an equal amount of visual correction. The focus is distributed evenly over the lens surface area.

The single vision prescription lenses are popular in the market since most people wear this type of glasses. The most common example is full frame readers. Half frame reading eyeglasses are another variant that are typically narrower. These glasses sit atop the end of your nose to easily view up-close and distant objects.

If you need glasses for one specific activity such as driving or reading, the optometrist might suggest single-vision lenses for you.

Advantages of single-vision lenses


Single vision eyeglasses are typically the most affordable type of prescription lens. You can correct your vision problem at a pocket-friendly price. You can choose a nice frame from Lensmart to go make the lens last for many uses.

No period of adjustment

If you notice, the first time you wear your prescription eyeglasses can bring some symptoms like headache and tired or sore eyes. It could take a while to get used to for some wearers. However, single vision lenses usually will not have you experiencing these conditions.

Disadvantages of single-vision lenses

Singular vision correction

On its own, single-vision glasses can help you see better if you have an existing problem. However, it’s limited to correcting one vision depth only—either myopia or hyperopia. If you begin to have difficulty when working in front of a computer or reading, you would need to have another pair made for that specific issue.


Single vision prescription lenses can have you spending more than one set for different eye problems. Additionally, if you have a strong prescription or astigmatism, the price can increase significantly.

What are multifocal lenses?

The shortcoming of single-vision specs paved the way for the development of multifocal lenses. This lens type refers to glasses that have two or more vision correction prescriptions. It is also known as progressive lenses, which indicate that they possess multiple focusing powers.

These lenses enhance your vision at several different distances. In this light, progressive lenses have a prescription for myopia, hyperopia, and intermediate distances.

The gradual switch between different prescriptions makes this type of lens appropriate for age-related vision problems. You don’t have to swap glasses whenever you’re trying to see up close or at a distance. You can just wear multifocal for the rest of the day.

Advantages of multifocal lenses

No switching glasses

One of the biggest benefits of wearing multifocal lenses is you don’t need to own more than one eyeglass. You can wear the same specs for all your activities, whether it’s reading a book or driving. That’s a lot more convenient than switching from one pair of eyeglasses to another!

Multiple focus

With multifocal, you can maintain a sharp vision regardless of distance. It’s the perfect choice for when you have different daily activities that require a different vision focus. For instance, you can use these glasses to work in front of the computer, then drive yourself home by the end of the day.

Slows down myopia

Studies show that progressive lenses can help to slow down the progression of nearsightedness. It’s the reason why professionals often recommend these lenses to younger people.

Disadvantages of multifocal lenses

Adjustment issues

Multifocal glasses can make you experience blurry peripherals, headaches, and tired eyes during the first few times you wear them. You must learn to adjust your focus so that you can be comfortable looking through your multifocal.


The advanced capability of progressive lenses comes with a hefty price. It’s considerably more expensive than single-vision lenses. It’s not unusual to pay about $100 for multifocal prescription lenses than your regular single-vision prescription glasses.

Single-vision lenses vs. multifocal lenses

You will find that multifocal lenses are a great option when you have a strong prescription, which causes you to rely on your glasses to see clearly. However, if you prefer wearing eyeglasses only when you’re doing a specific activity such as reading, then single-vision lenses are the more practical choice for you.

More about glasses lenses:

Pros and cons of polycarbonate lenses

The advantages and disadvantages of high index lenses

Transition lenses problems you should know

What are advantages and disadvantages of progressive lenses

What are the advantages and disadvantages of bifocal lenses

Soft contact lenses vs. hard contact lenses

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