Tips for Choosing Progressive Lenses, Bifocals, or Reading Glasses

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As we age, many adults experience presbyopia, which is the loss of visual acuity for objects closest to you. Presbyopia tends to affect individuals over the age of 40, and according to the Mayo Clinic, the condition might worsen until it halts at the age of 65. Depending on your vision, you might choose one of three options, either progressive lenses, reading glasses, or bifocals. There are approximately two million online eyeglass and frame purchases made each year in the United States, according to a 2012 Vision Council Internet Influence Report. If you are shopping for glasses online, here is what you need to know about your different lens options.


Bifocals are the traditional eye glasses lenses for presbyopia, and their invention is actually credited to Benjamin Franklin. They have a separate space within the lens where the prescription is tailored to allow the wearer to read and see more clearly objects that are close to them. The wearer looks up through the top portion of the lens to see distance, and down through the bifocal lens area for close reading. For some individuals, this lens option is preferred because it offers a larger reading area than progressive lens transitions.

Progressive Lenses

Essilor created the first progressive lenses in 1959, allowing individuals who had developed nearsightedness to see more clearly objects in the distance, middleground, and foreground. If you are looking for new glasses and you don’t want the visible line that comes with bifocals, progressives offer an alternative. These lenses are preferred by people who do not wish to switch between glasses for reading and for seeing distance, and also by those who do not wish for others to be able to tell that they are in need of vision correction for farsightedness and nearsightedness. Progressives also offer smoother transitions as you move from focal point to focal point.

Reading Glasses

Reading glasses are available with prescription, and non-prescription lenses. Therefore, if you are only experiencing presbyopia, you have a choice to make. Choosing prescription lenses might mean that you get vision correction closer to your needs, as opposed to predetermined lens strengths in traditional over-the-counter or standard reading glasses. If you need distance correction as well as reading glasses, then you would have to switch between the two, which is why many people choose progressives or bifocals when they need vision correction for more than one level of distance.

IBIS research has determined that in the United States, the eye glasses and contact industries employ approximately 77,341 people. If you are shopping online, there are often opticians that can assist you with selecting the right lenses and frames for your needs. Remember that if you are having difficulty with close reading, you may need reading glasses, bifocals, or progressives to correct your vision, and to reduce eyestrain and fatigue. For more information see this.

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