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What Are Progressive Lenses?

What Are Progressive Lenses?

By Anna Barden 

Reviewed by Thomas Stokkermans, OD, PhD, FAAO on April 25, 2024 



How Do Progressive Lenses Work? 

Progressive lenses are considered multifocal because they offer multiple focusing powers all in one lens. While the powers are separated into different sections, they are seamlessly integrated into each lens without visible lines. The top portion of the lens is for distant vision, the middle portion is for intermediate vision, and the bottom portion is for near vision.   


There are numerous reasons why you may want to choose lenses with multiple focusing powers. Many people with presbyopia (sometimes called age-related farsightedness) need corrective lenses to see books and other up-close objects. They may also be nearsighted, which makes it difficult to see distant objects clearly. With progressive lenses, you can correct for multiple distances at the same time. 


To review:  


  • The top part of a progressive lens (for distance vision) helps you see distant objects clearly.  

  • The middle part of a progressive lens (for intermediate vision) sits just below your eye level. This portion helps you see computer screens and other objects that are about an arm’s length away. 

  • The bottom part of a progressive lens (for near vision) helps you read books, use your phone, and complete other close-up tasks. 


Talk to your eye doctor if you think progressives may be right for you. 

Types of Progressive Lenses 

Progressive lenses are available in a variety of types. Standard progressive lenses are generally the most affordable because they don’t have any customizations beyond your prescription. They make an excellent starter option for new progressive lens wearers. 


If you’re interested in progressives that cater to more specialized needs, there are several prescription options your eye doctor can help you choose from. Some popular types of custom progressives include: 


  • Premium progressive lenses – These lenses are customized for your personal vision needs, specifically catering to your dominant eye. 

  • Photochromic progressive lenses – These progressives automatically darken when they’re exposed to sunlight. With photochromic lenses, you don’t have to worry about switching to sunglasses when you walk outside. 

  • Computer progressive lenses – Computer (or office) progressives devote more space to the intermediate section of your lenses, giving you a clearer, more expansive view of your computer screen. Because of their design, office progressives are not suitable for general-purpose use or driving. 


Foster Grant also offers progressive readers: non-prescription reading glasses with multiple magnifications. Our Multi Focus™ reading glasses include three strengths to help you see clearly as you read, use a computer, and interact with others.  


For an extra dash of glamour, check out the Sofia Vergara® x Foster Grant® collection for a number of stylish options with Multi Focus™ lenses. 


Note sure what type of readers you need? Use our Frame Finder to find your perfect pair. 

Benefits of Progressive Lenses 

Before you commit to your next pair of glasses, ask your eye doctor if progressives might be the best option for your vision and lifestyle. Here are some benefits you may enjoy: 

Progressives Address Multiple Vision Needs at Once 

When you wear glasses that have multiple focusing powers in each lens, you get the benefit of correcting several distances at once. There’s no need to switch between readers for presbyopia and regular glasses to help see things far away. 

Progressives Offer Seamless Focusing 

Progressives eliminate the disturbance caused when visible lines separate the different powers in a lens. Because progressives don’t have lines between powers, they offer a seamless visual transition when looking at things that are far away, nearby, and within arm’s reach.  


Bifocal and trifocal wearers sometimes experience an “image jump” — a rapid change in focus as their eyes move across the lines that separate each lens power. 

Progressives Can Make You Look Younger 

Another benefit of line-free lenses is that they can make you appear younger than other multifocals. The visible line on bifocals tends to make the wearer look older. Progressives eliminate this issue because without lens lines, they look like normal eyeglasses. 

Progressives Are Easy to Keep Up With 

With most progressives, you only need one pair of glasses for all of your activities. You don’t have to worry about constantly switching your readers and everyday glasses when you need to see something up close versus far away. Other activities such as driving and working on a computer are made easier when you only need one pair of eyeglasses. 

Progressives Can Be Fashion-Forward 

Progressive lenses can be fitted to most styles of glasses frames. Whether you’re on the bold side or like to keep things simple, there’s a pair out there that will fit perfectly with your personal aesthetic. 


SEE RELATED: Choosing the Best Frame Color for Your Skin Tone  

What Is the Downside of Progressive Lenses? 

Even though they have a lot to offer, there are some disadvantages of progressive lenses to consider: 

Progressives Can Be Costly 

Progressives can be more expensive than other multifocal lenses like bifocals and trifocals. The cost can be even higher if you opt for premium progressive lenses or other specialized types. 

Progressives Have an Adjustment Period 

Many people need some time to adjust to wearing progressives, especially if they’ve never used bifocals or other multifocal lenses before. As your eyes get used to moving between the different lens powers, you may notice some blurriness in your peripheral vision, but this improves with consistent wear.  


The adjustment period for progressives typically ranges from a few days to a few weeks. If you continue to experience discomfort after this time, contact your eye doctor.  

Difference Between Progressive, Bifocal, and Multifocal Lenses 

What makes progressive eyeglass lenses different from other types of lenses? There are a few key differences between single-vision and multifocal lenses. Here’s how they differ: 


  • Single-vision lenses have one focusing power to correct a single distance. They are usually prescribed for people with refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism. 

  • Bifocal lenses have two focusing powers that are separated by a visible line on the lens. The top portion helps you see distant objects and the bottom portion helps you see up-close objects. In bifocal-style readers, the top portion is not magnified.

  • Trifocal lenses have three focusing powers that are separated by visible lines on the lens. The top portion corrects distant vision, the center is for intermediate vision, and the bottom is for near vision. 

  • Progressive lenses provide vision correction at multiple distances without any visible lines on the lenses. They seamlessly progress from one focal zone to the next. 


Talk to your eye doctor to determine what type of lenses will be best for your next pair of glasses. 

Tips for Wearing Progressive Lenses 

Adjusting to your progressives can be difficult at first. But there are things you can do to ease the process. Here are a few tips to follow as you become more comfortable in your new lenses: 


  • Wear your new glasses as much as possible. The more you wear your progressives, the sooner your eyes will adjust to them. 

  • Avoid moving only your eyes when switching between focal distances. Instead, move your head or point your nose in the direction that you want to see. 

  • Try watching TV and looking at your phone in the same sitting. This exercises your eyes at multiple distances, which can help you get used to your progressives sooner.

  • Look directly ahead as you walk from one point to another. Don’t look at your feet, as the bottom part of your lenses will magnify them and may cause you to lose your balance or become disoriented. 


Remember to be patient as your eyes adjust to your new lenses. Some people may take a few days and others take a few weeks to get used to their progressives. But, if it takes you more than a couple weeks to adjust, or you have any other problems with your glasses, reach out to your eye doctor for advice. 


  1. Progressive lenses: What they are and how they work. July 2023.* 
  2. Progressive lenses. Cleveland Clinic. October 2023. 
  3. Computer glasses: Custom glasses for computer use. All About Vision. July 2023.* 
  4. How to adapt to wearing progressive glasses. Clearly. Accessed April 2024.* 


The sources listed here have been provided for informational purposes only. The citation of a particular source does not constitute an endorsement or approval of EssilorLuxottica products, services, or opinions by such source.  


*Like Foster Grant,, All About Vision, AAV Media, LLC, and Clearly are affiliates of EssilorLuxottica.