Ask an Eye Doctor in Knoxville: What Are Progressive Lenses?

Our vision needs change as we grow older. It used to be easy to see things close-up as well as far away, butprogressive lenses now you find yourself squinting to do both. Bifocals and trifocals were the solutions in the past but a new alternative has been developed—progressive lenses. What are progressive lenses and how do they work? Keep reading to find out!

Progressive lenses are a type of multifocal lens that improves your close and distance vision. They don’t have lines like bifocals and trifocals, allowing for a seamless transition from up close to far away vision. This means that you only need one pair of glasses and they can even treat astigmatism, but their disadvantages should also be considered.

What are Progressive Lenses?

Progressive lenses are a type of multifocal lens for those who have trouble with close-up as well as distance vision. Bifocals or trifocals have visible lines at the bottom of the lens indicating a stronger prescription. Progressive lenses, on the other hand, lack the lines where one lens prescription ends and another begins (no-line bifocals and trifocals). 

This is ideal for a lot of patients who make the switch as they get older. Also known as progressive additional lenses (PALs), these lenses become more necessary as you age. A lot of people start needing help with focusing their vision on nearby objects after the age of 40. This is known as presbyopia and is a perfectly normal part of the aging process.

While this may be a normal part of life, not everyone wants their glasses to give them away. Some people will have multiple prescriptions on-hand based on their needs. For instance, they may wear single-vision lenses for distance but switch to reading glasses for close-up tasks. People who wear progressive lenses simplify this problem with a single pair of glasses. 

This is thanks to how the progressive lens works. They provide a much more convenient and simple solution to presbyopia because the:

  • Upper section allows for distance vision
  • Middle section allows for middle-distance vision
  • Lower section allows for close-up vision

This allows you to experience a smooth transition in lens strength from the top of the lens to the bottom.

Click here to learn more about reading glasses and why you should purchase them from your optometrist!


Who are Progressive Lenses For?

Anyone who experiences presbyopia as they enter their 40s can benefit from progressive lenses. However, younger people can benefit from them as well. Some people have vision problems that affect their near and far vision before the age of 40. In cases like these, progressive lenses can help them to see clearly no matter their age.

To learn the 5 signs that your child needs an eye exam, click here!


The Pros and Cons of Progressive Lensesprogressive lenses pros and cons

Progressive lenses come with plenty of benefits. On the other hand, they still may not be the best choice for you in certain cases. It’s important to evaluate their pros and cons before telling your eye doctor that you want to make the switch.


These lenses come with plenty of benefits, including:

  • Correcting astigmatism
  • Needing only one pair of glasses
  • Not having multifocal lines
  • Helping you look younger

Progressive lenses can correct astigmatism as well as other refractive errors. Astigmatism is caused by an irregularly shaped cornea that unevenly focuses light on the retina, resulting in blurred vision. 

Needing only one pair of glasses is a big benefit for many people. Without multifocal lenses, you will have to wear single-vision glasses and carry a spare pair of reading glasses around. Progressive lenses let you ditch both for a single pair of glasses that lets you see clearly at any distance.

While all multifocal lenses can help you see at any distance, only progressive lenses have the benefit of not having multifocal lines. These lines can cause sudden changes in clarity due to “image jumps,” which can be jarring. They can also draw unwanted attention away from your face and toward the lines.

Multifocal lenses without lines can also help you look younger thanks to not having multifocal lines. These lines are often associated with aging, which can make you look and feel older than you are. Progressive lenses can help you feel more confident in your appearance as well as your vision.


While they have plenty of benefits, progressive lenses don’t come without some downsides. They include:

  • Learning how to see through the lens
  • Short-term visual distortions
  • More expensive

Learning how to see through the lens will take some practice. One benefit of multifocal lines is that they tell your eye where to look when you want to see something close-up. Progressive lenses, on the other hand, can take a couple of weeks to learn how to look through properly.

You can experience short-term vision distortions while you’re learning how to see through your new lenses. For instance, looking through the lower part with the strongest lens power can make your feet appear larger than they are. This can result in stumbling or tripping. Fortunately, these issues become less noticeable as you get used to using them.

Another drawback of progressive lenses is that they are more expensive than other options. But this is understandable considering that they are basically three pairs of glasses in one. Progressive lenses also take more time to make, but many patients consider this a small price to pay for the convenience and simplicity they provide.

Are you ready to make the switch to progressive lenses in Knoxville, TN? Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

Progressive multifocal lenses allow you to see up close and far away with only one pair of glasses. Since they’re one piece of glass, they don’t have the lines that come with bifocals and trifocals. This means you no longer need a spare pair of reading glasses to see up close and they even treat astigmatism. However, their disadvantages should also be considered before buying.

​​Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical has been serving Knoxville since 2009. Dr. Travis Thompson and Dr. Catherine Abbott specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of eye diseases, conditions, and problems and are committed to improving the quality of life in the Knoxville community through enhanced vision. Located at 10904 Spring Bluff Way, you can schedule an appointment online or give us a call at (865) 888-0892.

Medically Reviewed By:

Dr. Thompson was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. His family has lived in the Hardin Valley area since 1998, and he graduated from Karns High School in 2004. Dr. Thompson runs Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical alongside his wife, Dr. Catherine Abbott.

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"Dr. Thompson is super professional, and has some of the best 'bedside manner' that I have ever witnessed from any doctor. His staff was very helpful in assisting me with picking out regular frames and sunglasses. I’d happily recommend Dr. Thompson to anyone looking for a eye doctor."
Cody C.