Progressive Lenses vs. Bifocals: What Is the Difference?

Progressive Lenses vs. Bifocals: What Is the Difference?

Leaving the eye doctor with your vision prescription in hand, you probably feel as lost as a history major attempting to build a rocket ship. All you wanted was vision correction, but now you have a slip of paper with letters and symbols, and you’re wondering what it all means. 

Vision correction usually involves more than just one type of correction. Both of your eyes are different, and one is usually a little stronger than the other. In addition, you might have better vision close up than you do at distances. That means you need multifocal lenses, or lenses that can help correct all of your vision issues. 

The old standby for multifocal vision correction was a nice, thick pair of bifocals. Before you write them off as the standard uniform of the elderly, you should know what they are, how they work, and whether or not you’ll have to wear them if you need multifocal vision correction. 

As always, the Stoggles team is on the job to help educate you on all things vision and vision safety. 

How Does Vision Correction Work?

Bifocal lenses are used to correct multiple different types of vision issues. The four most common vision issues are myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia: 

  • Myopia. This is also referred to as nearsightedness. It’s the most common refractive error corrected. If you’re nearsighted, you can see objects up close easily, but objects in the distance are out of focus. 
  • Hyperopia. The second most common type of refractive error corrected is hyperopia or farsightedness. This makes your distance vision sharp and your up-close vision blurry. 
  • Astigmatism. This refractive error is caused by a cornea that is misshapen. This causes the appearance of halos or blurry vision on all planes. 
  • Presbyopia. Presbyopia refers to age-related vision loss. This is similar to hyperopia in that it affects a person’s ability to see objects or materials that are close-up. You’ll usually experience presbyopia symptoms during middle age. 

It’s completely possible (and really common) to have more than one refractive error or to have refractive errors that require lenses that have multiple strengths (referred to as different lens powers). Instead of needing multiple pairs of glasses (think reading glasses, distance vision glasses, and computer screen glasses), you’d need multifocal lenses, like bifocals. 

What Are Bifocals, Trifocals, and Progressive Lenses?

If bifocal glasses are the OG of multifocal lenses, progressives are the new school, updated version. Before we write off bifocals completely, let’s look at how they work and help correct multiple refractive errors at once. 

Bifocal Technology

Although the invention of bifocals is typically credited to Ben Franklin, some serious historians attribute the multifocal technology to earlier predecessors. Regardless, the idea behind bifocals was correcting two different refractive errors with one lens. 

Bifocals work by delineating a portion of the lens for one type of refractive error (say, farsightedness) and another portion of the lens for a different refractive error (like nearsightedness). The result is a lens that has a visible line in the middle between the two different lens strengths. 

Wearers of bifocal lenses would train themselves to use the upper portion of the lens when looking at objects in the distance and the bottom of the lens when looking at objects up close, thus using one pair of eyeglasses to correct multiple fields of vision. 


If one lens could correct two refractive errors, why not three? Enter trifocal lenses, which work similarly to bifocals, but with an additional lens strength in the middle part of the lens to help correct even more fields of vision, like intermediate vision, or objects that appear in the middle distance. The uppermost part of the lens clarifies objects in the distance, while the lower portion clarifies objects that are up close.

Alas, these lenses also have distinct lines that make it known to the world you’ve got more than one vision issue and are likely over age 35. 

Updated Tech, No Line Bifocals

Leave it to one savvy engineer to create modern eyewear that doesn’t show lines. Bernard Maitenaz developed a lens that looked like a single-vision lens and corrected multiple fields of vision. Today, we call these lenses progressive lenses. 

Progressive lenses provide a gradual gradient between different powers of vision correction, offering a seamless transition that makes it virtually impossible to tell that someone is wearing multifocal lenses. These are sometimes referred to as no-line bifocals or blended readers, but most commonly, they’re marketed as progressive lenses. Blended readers are the progressive version of readers — because of this, they can only be positive. However, regular progressive lenses can be any Rx power.

You can now leave your optometrist’s office post-eye-exam with confidence and the assurance that your new pair of prescription lenses can offer you crystal clear vision without delineation between the top and bottom half of the lens. 

With this new knowledge, you’re better prepared to make even more important decisions about your eye care. In fact, you’ll probably want to level up your ocular intelligence by ensuring you know how to protect your eyes from danger. Even if you don’t, we’re going to tell you why you should. 

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Eye Safety Matters

Eye injuries are more common than you think, affecting millions of people globally each year. That’s the bad news. The good news is that experts agree that almost all of these injuries are completely preventable simply by wearing protective safety eyewear. 

At Stoggles, vision safety is what we do, and we do it right. Here’s what you’ll find in every pair of Stoggles we sell.

ANSI Z87.1-2020 Certification

Regular progressive glasses are usually made with lower-grade plastic or with glass and aren’t made to withstand strikes or scrapes. Stoggles are made from ultra-durable polycarbonate and tested to meet ANSI Z87.1-2020 certifications to ensure they don’t break or shatter on impact. 

Light Protection

Whether it’s UV protection or blue light protection you need, Stoggles have your eyes covered. Our polycarbonate material is naturally UV blocking, and we add blue-light filtering material into each lens at the time of manufacture to ensure your eyes are safe from intrusive blue light whether you are exposed to it from your smartphone or while doing computer work. 


Fogging glasses make it impossible for you to see distant objects and objects close up, regardless of the types of progressive lenses you might have. Stoggles come preloaded with 

anti-fogging compound sealed onto the lens to keep your lenses fog-free for a long time. 

Side and Top Shields

Your regular eyewear leaves your eyes vulnerable at the sides and top of the lens. Stoggles protect your eyes in these vulnerable areas with top and side shields that are low profile and streamlined in design. 

If you need vision correction with your safety eyewear, be warned. Some types of safety glasses that have wraparound lenses may interfere with your prescription. Side and top shields offer a solution that will never interfere with your vision prescription. 

Impeccable Style

Safety eyewear isn’t exactly haute couture, but Stoggles rejected the notion that it had to be as drab as the available options suggested. Our frame styles are unexpected, like cat-eye and aviator. Our color palettes include more than just clear and are perfect for accessorizing your OOTD. 

Options Galore

The options don’t stop. We offer Stoggles with UV-light responsive lenses in Stoggles Dimmers. Dimmers darken when exposed to UV light and return to clear when the light changes. Safety, sun shielding, and stylish all-in-one. 

We also offer a polarized version of Stoggles to reduce glare when you’re in situations that call for this type of protection. 

Prescription Ready

Need new lenses but also need them to keep your eyes safe? You’ve come to the right place. Stoggles gives you the style you want with the accessibility you need. We offer our iconic safety eyewear with vision corrective lenses, and yes, that includes progressives and readers. 

Simply take that slip of paper your eye doctor handed you, and upload your info onto our website. We’ll create the perfect pair of customized Stoggles with your prescription so you can see clearly and stay safe.

Multivision Correction Like a Pro

Sure, you need multivision correction, but you don’t have to announce it to the world. In fact, it can be a little secret between you and your eye doctor. Progressive lenses have made bifocals an article of the past, and you can make eye injuries a distant concern too, when you keep your eyes safe with Stoggles. Stoggles makes it easy to care for your eyes and protect your style.


Astigmatism, Hyperopia, and Myopia | Boston Children's Hospital

Refractive Errors | National Eye Institute

What Is Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment | American Academy of Ophthalmology

Presbyopia | National Eye Institute

The invention and early manufacture of bifocals | PubMed

Obituary: Bernard Maitenaz |

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