Eye-deology Vision Care: Edmonton Optometrists, Opticians and Eyewear

Bifocal vs. Progressive Lenses - See The Difference

As we age, the lens of our eye becomes less flexible and thicker, and the surrounding muscle fibers become less elastic. This can make it difficult to read the fine print found in newspapers, magazines, books, and on smartphones. This normal loss of the ability to focus at close distances, which usually begins around age age 40, is called presbyopia. Bifocal and progressive lenses are multifocal eyeglass lens designs that provide wearers with multiple prepscription zones - including a reading-specific prescription - enabling them to see clearly as they grow older. However, while similar, bifocal and progressive lenses differ in several key ways. Understanding how they differ can help you make an informed decision when the time arrives to invest in multifocal eyeglasses. Schedule an appointment with our Edmonton optometrists and opticians today to learn more about multifocal eyewear options.

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Bifocal prescription lenses, also known as lined bifocal lenses, are eye glass lenses that have two distinct lens powers separated by a distinct, visible line. Bifocals are typically prescribed for individuals who need glasses for both near (e.g., reading) and far (e.g., driving) vision and have a stronger prescription for one of these distances. Bifocals work by having two prescriptions integrated one lens, with the near vision prescription at the bottom of the lens and the far vision prescription at the top. Traditional bifocal lenses are typically made with a visible line separating the two prescriptions, which allows the wearer to switch between the two prescriptions by looking through the appropriate part of the lens. Bifocal wearers simply look slightly downward along their cheek line to obtain clear reading vision. Looking straight, along the horizontal plane, offers the clear distance vision needed for driving.

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Bifocal Lenses

Progressive prescription lenses are modern multifocal lenses with three benchmark focal zones: distance- (e.g., driving), intermediate- (e.g., computer), and near-vision (e.g., book reading). Unlike bifocals, progressive lenses do not feature visible lines between each focal zone. Instead, they have a seamless, invisible design where the magnification power progressively changes throughout the lens from distance vision (e.g., driving) at the top to near vision (e.g., reading) at the bottom. Advancing from single vision lenses to multifocal lenses requires the eyes, brain, and head to recalibrate how they work together to offer the clearest vision at every distance. However, new digital freeform progressive lenses, which offer the widest, distortion-free viewing areas, makes adapting to multifocal lenses considerably easier.

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Progressive Lenses

Compared to bifocal lenses, the continuous, seamless design of progressive lenses offer individuals several important performance and aesthetic benefits:

  • Clear Vision At All Distances. Progressive lenses provide clear, crisp vision at all distances - not just the 2 offered by bifocals.
  • Eliminates Image Shift/Jump. Progressive lenses eliminate the frustrating image shift/jump experienced with bifocals.
  • Ageless Appearance. Progressive lenses do not have the visible lines of bifocals, offering a more youthful appearance.
  • Advanced Individualization. Modern digital freeform progressive lenses can be personalized to an individual's favourite activities and unique lifestyle preferences.

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Traditional Bifocal vs. Traditional Progressive Eye Glass Lens

A Comparison of Bifocal & Progressive Lens Features

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Contrary to what some online vendors may claim, crafting multifocal lenses that provide clear, high-definition vision requires numerous precise measurements. These measurements include pupillary distances for both near and distance focal lengths, the optical center, heights, vertex (the distance of the eye from the back of the lens), pantoscopic tilt (the angle of the lens from vertical), and wrap angle (the angle at which the lenses curve around the head). These measurements are unique to each person, taking into account individual biology, behavior, frame type, frame fit, and prescription. To get the most accurate and personalized measurements, it is important that the selected frame first be properly fitted and professionally adjusted and that modern digital tools be used.

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Digital Bifocal Eye Glass Measurements

Multifocal contact lenses (including bifocal contacts) contain different power zones for near and far vision to correct for presbyopia as well as nearsightedness or farsightedness. Some multifocal lenses also correct for astigmatism. Bifocal contacts lenses include two prescriptions in the lens, while multifocal contact lenses incorporate a range of powers in the lens. These contact lenses are the equivalent to bifocal and progressive eyeglass lenses.

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Bifocal Contact Lenses in Edmonton

Hoya Prescription Eyeglass Lenses
Zeiss Prescription Eyeglass Lenses
Essilor Prescription Eyeglass Lenses
Maui Jim Prescription Eyeglass Lenses

Progressive Lenses

Looking of a multifocal lens with no visible lines between focal zones? Progressive lense from our Edmonton optical may be the solution for you.

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Lens Tints

The performance and lifespan of your prescription glasses can be enhanced with anti-scratch and anti-reflection lens coatings.

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Anti-Fatigue Lenses in Edmonton

Not yet 40, but experience tired and strained eyes when multitasking? See relief and relaxed vision with anti-fatigue glasses that make reading easy.

Anti-Fatigue Lenses »

Individuals typically need to adapt to bifocal lenses over a period of 1-2 weeks. Over this time the brain, eyes, and head recalibrate and relearn how to work together to obtain the clearest vision at all distances with the new optics. However, if you feel that what you are experiencing is more than a matter of adapting, you may need a frame adjustment to realign the optics of your glasses to your eyes. If you purchased your eye glasses from our clinic and optical, adjustments are always complementary.

Eye glass packages (frames + lenses), that include bifocal lenses, typically begin at $250-$325 in Alberta (circa 2022). Bifocal lenses advertised for less are often older progressive lens designs with poor optical quality, that likely are not properly measured and fitted to provide the needed and desired performance (e.g. online vendors).

Eye glass frames need sufficient depth (i.e., vertical height) to accommodate the various focal zones (i.e., distance, and reading) of bifocal lenses. To determine if a frame has sufficent depth to accommodate a bifocal lens, heights must be measured while the frame is worn by the individual, as it is not the physical dimensions of the frame that are of interest, but rather the vertical distance from the pupil to the bottom fo the frame.

Searching for an optometrist in Edmonton? Our experienced Edmonton eye doctors use advanced modern technologies and devote upwards of 500% more time towards providing personalized patient care than elsewhere so that they can see more and ensure that you may never see less. Position yourself to see the future with a visit to our eye clinic and Edmonton's best eye care!

Doctor Jennifer Ash, Eye Doctor (Edmonton)

Dr. Jennifer Ash is the Resident Optometrist at Eye-deology Vision Care. Dr. Ash provides patient care 5 days a week. Read more about Dr. Ash.

Doctor Ruhee Kurji, Eye Doctor (Edmonton)

Dr. Ruhee Kurji is an Associate Optometrist at Eye-deology Vision Care. Dr. Kurji provides patient care Tuesdays & Fridays. Read more about Dr. Kurji.

Doctor Jade McLachlin, Eye Doctor (Edmonton)

Dr. Jade McLachlin is an Associate Optometrist at Eye-deology Vision Care. Dr. McLachlin provides patient care 5 days a week. Read more about Dr. McLachlin.

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