Bifocals vs. Progressive

By Valerie Dansereau ; Updated July 27, 2017

It is common for people over the age of 40 to require vision correction for more than one prescription strength. Typically one prescription is needed to help see far away and one to help see things up close. Correction for more than one visual problem can be attained through bifocals or progressive lenses.

The Facts

Bifocals are the traditional choice for more than one prescription. Bifocal lenses are lined, clearly distinguishing between the two prescriptions. An alternative to bifocals are progressive lenses, which are also called no-line bifocals. Progressives offer several advantages to traditional lined bifocals.


Many people choose progressive for cosmetic reasons. The visible lines of traditional bifocals are concealed, so no one can tell you need reading glasses.


Progressive lenses provide a more natural correction of vision. You can change focus easily from near to far and back again. There is no sudden image jump when you shift your vision.

Disadvantages of Progressives

Some people require an adjustment period for progressives. Your peripheral vision may be altered, which may require some changes in head and eye movements. Progressives may be more expensive than traditional bifocals.


Adapting to progressive lenses may take a few hours to a few weeks. Progressive lenses are preferred by most people. For those who can’t adjust, traditional bifocals may be the best option.

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