Explaining the Difference Between Bifocals and Progressives

You probably get a lot of questions in your practice. Many questions come up about the different types of lenses. Many people are asking questions about the difference between bifocal and progressive lenses. If your patients are asking the same questions, here are some suggestions on how to answer that will help eliminate their confusion, and hopefully, provide you with some additional revenue. That’s a win-win!

First, let’s set the stage. Multifocal lenses typically address the needs of your middle-aged to older patients who are starting to feel the effects of aging. Many start to experience presbyopia, which is the gradual loss elasticity of the eyes and the resulting difficulty to focus on objects close up. This condition is very natural, but often annoying, and usually becomes noticeable in people in their early to mid-40s. It may continue to worsen until around age 65.

It’s at this point people need something more than a single vision lens in their prescription eyeglasses. They’re going to need additional magnification in part of the lens to help the eye focus on up-close objects. 


All bifocal lenses work the same. A small portion of the lens has the power to correct your patient’s near vision. Since people usually look down to read or look at object close to them, this area is at the bottom of the lens.

The lens segment (or “seg”) that is devoted to near vision can be in several shapes:

  • Flat-top (sometimes called half-moon, straight top, or D-segment)
  • Full bottom half of a bifocal lens (called “Franklin”, Executive, or E-style)
  • Round

bifocal lens types

Normally, bifocal lenses have a visible line. The line in the round seg is less noticeable than the lines in flat-tops and Executive styles. There is also something called “invisible bifocals” or “no line bifocals” which essentially is a round seg that has been buffed so the line doesn’t show. This can cause optical distortions, however. If an invisible line is desired, it’s usually better to go with progressive lenses.


Just like bifocals, progressives give your patients the ability to see far and near. Progressive lenses offer a smooth transition in lens power for distance, intermediate and near distances, without a line.

progressive lens

Since bifocal lenses provide only two powers – one for seeing across the room, and the other for seeing up close – patients may have to “bob” their heads in order to see object in the intermediate range, such as computer screens or items on a grocery store shelf.

Wearers of bifocals have to sit closer to the screen and tilt their heads back to see the screen. Not only is this constant head bobbing and tilting annoying, this unnatural position can lead to muscle strain and neck pain when used for extended periods.

Therefore, it’s easy to justify to your patients the advantages of progressive lenses, especially for those with heavy computer use. Bifocal lenses can be less expensive, but today’s advanced progressive designs offer comfort and functionality that will be worth the investment. Not only will your patients appreciate the difference, they will usually be very happy they spent a little bit more.

Please be aware that IcareLabs sells premium progressive lenses for less than some labs' prices for bifocal lenses. 

 About IcareLabs

Icare  Industries was established in 1968 by John W. Payne. More than 47 years later, Icare Industries is  managed by Mr. Payne's sons, Scott Payne (CEO) and Skip Payne (President) and is a family-owned business with long-standing quality and money-saving commitments to its customers.  IcareLabs is ranked by Vision Monday as the one of the top-ten independently owned manufacturers of prescription eyewear and related products in the United States.

What distinguishes IcareLabs from other wholesale laboratories in the industry? Our independence. We are not a division of a larger company that has consolidated other manufacturers. This independence empowers us and gives us the ability to provide the best product-neutral solutions for our clients.  It allows us to be an authorized distributor of Varilux, Sola, Shamir, Zeiss, Hoya, Kodak and many other premium brands. In addition, we offer premium in-house lenses and coatings that can help you take your profits to new heights.

With our independence, in-house efficiencies, recently upgraded state-of-the-art lab, outstanding customer service and the fact that we don't hire expensive outside sales people, you are sure to save money on your monthly lab bill. 

Find Out How Much You Can Save on your Monthly Lab Bill!

Get Our Full Price List

Need more information on specific bifocal and progressive lenses? Check out our Resource Center


Leave a Comment