Trifocal Glasses vs. Other Options: Which Should You Buy? | NVISION (2024)

Trifocal glasses are a type of eyewear that correct for three different ranges of vision on one lens. From top to bottom, trifocal lenses correct for distance, intermediate, and up-close vision problems.

Table of Contents

  • What Are Trifocal Glasses?
  • Who Are They For?
  • How They are Made
  • Trifocals vs. Other Types
  • Cost Differences
  • Downsides
  • Where to Buy Them
Trifocal Glasses vs. Other Options: Which Should You Buy? | NVISION (1)

Trifocals are typically recommended for people over the age of 40 who have a pre-existing vision condition and are starting to experience presbyopia. But anyone who needs help with the three fields of vision could benefit from trifocal glasses.

Trifocals are made by putting three different vision prescriptions on one lens. First, the distance vision prescription is made on the lens, followed by the intermediate vision prescription for the middle of the lens, and then the near vision prescription on the lower portion of the lens.

Trifocal glasses serve a unique purpose compared to other types of glasses. Regular glasses can only correct for one vision prescription. Bifocals correct for just two fields of vision on a lens. Progressives are similar to trifocals, but they can provide a more seamless transition between vision ranges.

The cost of trifocals compared to other types of eyeglasses varies, depending on the level of customization you are looking for and what special options, like lens coatings and frames, you select.

While trifocals are helpful for people with multiple vision problems, there are downsides to them. Difficulty adjusting to the lenses, a lack of full customizable capacity, and a need to replace lenses as your vision changes are some of the drawbacks.

Trifocals are available at most local and online eyewear retailers. If you already have a vision prescription, you can order a pair right away. Otherwise, start by getting an updated vision assessment from your eye care provider.

What Are Trifocal Glasses?

Trifocal glasses have a special lens that provides vision correction in three different ranges of vision: near, intermediate, and distance. A trifocal lens has lines on it that delineate the corrective area on the lens for each range of vision. Because of these lines, vision can be blurred between each focal range.

The top portion of a trifocal lens corrects for distance vision, for activities such as driving. The middle portion of the lens corrects for intermediate vision, which helps for seeing objects at about an arm’s length away. The lower portion of a trifocal lens is for close activities, such as reading.

Trifocal Glasses vs. Other Options: Which Should You Buy? | NVISION (2)

Who Are Trifocals Best Suited For?

Trifocals are best suited for people who need vision correction at multiple distances. Certain vision conditions can cause people to need trifocal lenses.

Many people develop presbyopia for example, as they age. It is a common condition that typically starts to occur just past the age of 40 and causes people to lose the ability to see clearly close up.

For people who already have an eyeglass prescription for middle or distance vision problems, the development of presbyopia may lend to a need for trifocals. Presbyopia is part of the normal aging process and can cause people to need to change their eyeglass prescriptions. For people who do not wish to wear contact lenses or undergo eye surgery, trifocal glasses are a great way to allow them to continue seeing clearly in all vision ranges.

How Trifocals Are Made

Trifocals are made by creating three distinct vision prescriptions on one lens. If you are getting customized trifocals, you may be able to select the design of each segment.

The two main types of trifocal options to choose from are:

  • Flat-top trifocal lens. The near and intermediate vision segments are fit into a D-shape that allows for good peripheral vision. They don’t reach across the whole lens, and they are easy for people to adjust to.
  • Executive trifocal lens. The intermediate segment is thinner with this lens. Each segment runs across the whole lens, and a broader range of corrected vision is offered.

To create a trifocal lens, the distance prescription is made on the entire lens first. Following the distance prescription, additional diopters are added on top of the lens until the intermediate prescription is achieved on the rest of the lens. Finally, more diopters are added to the lower part of the lens until the desired near vision prescription is reached.

Trifocal Glasses vs. Other Options: Which Should You Buy? | NVISION (3)

Trifocals can be made on the following lens materials:





Trifocal Glasses vs. Other Types of Glasses

Trifocal glasses are unique to other types of glasses due to their ability to provide vision correction in three different fields, all in one pair of glasses. Trifocal glasses, however, are not appropriate for everyone.

Other types of glasses include:

  • Standard eyeglasses. Standard eyeglasses are the most common type of corrective eyewear prescribed for many different vision problems. A single vision prescription is made on the lens of regular glasses.
  • Bifocals. Bifocals provide vision correction at two different fields of vision rather than three, like trifocals. With bifocals, the top part of the lens is for distance vision, and the bottom part is for up-close vision, with a clear line delineating the two prescriptions.
  • Progressives. Progressive lenses provide correction for multiple fields of vision with no distinct line across the lenses. The prescription strength progressively increases from top to bottom.

While increasing numbers of people are choosing progressives over trifocals, trifocals tend to offer a better peripheral field of vision than progressives, especially for reading or working on the computer. Additionally, many people find progressives more functional than bifocals or trifocals, but they can be harder to get used to.

Cost Differences

The cost of your eyeglasses will vary depending on how much customization you need, what types of frame and lens coating you prefer, and where you choose to buy your glasses. In general, however, multifocal lenses are more expensive than regular glasses with a single vision prescription.

Reasons that multifocal lenses cost more include:

  • Materials. High-definition lenses, which are the most expensive, provide the sharpest vision and most peripheral vision for people with complex eye conditions that require a multifocal lens.
  • Design. The design of a trifocal or progressive lens is much more complex than a single vision or bifocal lens, making it more expensive.
  • Coatings. Extra cost is added for specialized coatings, such as on adaptive progressive lenses.
  • High-end options. If you have specific vision prescription needs, high-end (and more expensive) lenses can be customized to accommodate unique vision requirements.
  • Brand name versions. Brand name frames and lenses typically cost more than generic glasses. Similar quality glasses can be found at lower prices from less well-known companies.

If you need multifocal lenses and are concerned about the high cost, remember that there are ways to save, even on customized glasses. While some features should not be skimped on, such as the lens material and design, you can save money elsewhere by selecting less expensive coatings and going with generic frames.

Trifocal Glasses vs. Other Options: Which Should You Buy? | NVISION (4)

Downsides to Trifocals

While there are many benefits to wearing trifocals, there are also a few disadvantages. One of the most common complaints about trifocals is that they are difficult to get used to. Because of the three distinct vision prescriptions on a trifocal lens, it can feel like images are jumping around as your eye moves from one prescription level to the next.

Another complaint about trifocals is that they appear to be a sign of aging. Because of the three distinct vision prescriptions marked by lines on your lenses, someone looking at you with your glasses on can see that you are wearing trifocal glasses. Because of this, some people prefer progressive lenses for a more youthful look.

Additionally, trifocals aren’t as customizable as progressive lenses. Your vision prescriptions for near, intermediate, and vision distance can be customized, but the lenses typically only come in a couple of standard options.

Finally, trifocal glasses only last as long as your vision prescriptions stay the same. If your vision changes, you might need to get updated prescriptions, which would call for new lenses. Fortunately, replacement lenses are available at affordable prices.

Where to Buy Trifocals

If you already know the vision prescriptions you need, there is a wide variety of online and local retailers selling trifocal glasses. Many online retailers, including Amazon, Walmart, and companies that specialize in selling eyewear have large selections of trifocals for you to choose from.

If you think you need trifocal glasses, the best place to start is by visiting your eye care provider. They can determine your current vision prescriptions and discuss the best lens options for you. If you have vision insurance, you may also confirm your vision benefits and see which retailers accept your plan.

Popular Brands of Trifocal Lenses

As you consult your eye surgeon or optometrist about your cataract surgery, you should also inquire about the best cataract lens and various brands available. Your eye surgeon will consider the power and type of lens to use to correct your vision problem.

While you may not have much to say about the lens’ power, you can influence your surgeons’ decisions about the brand. Some of the best trifocal lens brands include:

  • Rayner lens
  • Aurolab
  • Locare
  • Zeiss
  • Appasamy
  • Hoya lens
  • Johnson and Johnson
  • Alcon

Note that different brands price their trifocal lenses differently.


  1. 5 Reasons Progressive Lenses Cost More. (August 2017). Multifocals.
  2. Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses. University of Rochester Medical Center.
  3. Trifocal. Glasses Crafter.
  4. Types of Progressive Lenses. (July 2019). Verywell Health.
  5. What Is Presbyopia? (January 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  6. What is the Difference Between No-Line Bifocals, Progressive Bifocals and Trifocals? (January 2013). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

The information provided on this page should not be used in place of information provided by a doctor or specialist. To learn more, read our Privacy Policy and Editorial Policy pages.

Trifocal Glasses vs. Other Options: Which Should You Buy? | NVISION (2024)


Are trifocals really necessary? ›

Trifocals are best suited for people who need vision correction at multiple distances. Certain vision conditions can cause people to need trifocal lenses. Many people develop presbyopia for example, as they age.

Are trifocal lenses worth it? ›

Pros of Trifocal Lenses

There are a variety of benefits to using trifocal lenses, including: Trifocal lenses give you the ability to get vision correction for three different prescriptions. This works well for people who have blurry vision at different distances, helping to clear up images both near and far away.

Which is better progressive lenses or trifocals? ›

Progressive glasses offer the wearer a youthful-looking eyewear option, and they can be customized for specific use. Trifocal glasses are not customizable like progressive, but instead, come in a few standard configurations. Trifocal glasses offer a wider intermediate viewing area than progressive lenses do.

What is the best option for glasses? ›

What type of eyeglass lens is best? For pure clarity, a glass or mineral glass lens is the best. But most people prefer polycarbonate lenses, which are lighter and more durable. High-index lenses are good for those who have strong prescriptions that would normally require thicker lenses.

Does Walmart sell trifocal lenses? ›

1 Pair Metal Rectangular No Line Progressive Trifocal Clear Lens Reading Glasses - Better Then Bi-Focal bifocal Reader -

How much should trifocals cost? ›

Trifocal lenses are more affordable than progressive lenses, typically ranging from $120 to $200. However, if you need advanced features such as anti-glare coating or special lens treatments, the cost can go up to $400.

What is the most common trifocal? ›

The most common trifocal today is the 7×28 trifocal which has a straight line across the top with another straight line 7mm below that (this is the intermediate portion of the addition) and a 28mm radius .

What is the most commonly used trifocal style? ›

The most popular trifocal styles are the flat-top and the Executive.

What is the downside of progressive lenses? ›

Also, because of how they work, progressive lenses can cause peripheral blurriness. This causes minor distortion at the edges of your field of vision. It can cause discomfort and may take some time to get used to.

Are progressive lenses more expensive than trifocals? ›

They correct the same problems but don't have "hard lines." Many people prefer progressive lenses over trifocals. However, they are typically more expensive.

Are expensive progressive lenses worth it? ›

The cost of progressive lenses is a little higher if you choose premium vs. standard. However, you can look forward to a broader viewing area and less visual distortions when you select premium progressive lenses since they are custom-made for your eyes.

What type of lens do most eye doctors recommend? ›

Single vision lenses are the most common lenses used to correct your vision. These lenses are tailored-made to match your prescription and correct eye conditions such as myopia, hyperopia and astigmatism.

Is it worth paying more for glasses? ›

Many assume expensive equals high-quality and cheap equals low-quality. Your glasses don't need to cost hundreds of dollars to provide you with clear vision. If you're looking for something to get the job done, cheaper lenses are never a bad option.

Who makes the highest quality eyeglass lenses? ›

Essilor is the world leader in eyeglass lenses. Essilor created the first and finest progressive lenses (Varilux lenses, Varilux Definity®, Varilux Comfort®, Varilux Physio®, Varilux Ellipse®), the finest lens coating (Crizal), and the finest single vision lenses on the market today (Orma, Thin&Lite, and Airwear).

Do I really need progressive lenses? ›

If you only have a hard time seeing things up close, you might just need reading glasses, which you use whenever you read or use the computer. However, if your vision is blurry enough that you can't see near or far things, a progressive set of lenses might be a better option.

What is the average cost of trifocals? ›

Trifocal lenses are more affordable than progressive lenses, typically ranging from $120 to $200. However, if you need advanced features such as anti-glare coating or special lens treatments, the cost can go up to $400.

Do I really need multifocal lenses? ›

How Do You Know If You Need Multifocal Lenses? Your optician or eye doctor might prescribe you multifocal lenses if you have trouble seeing both near and faraway objects. They may be recommended for individuals who experience eye strain or fatigue and headaches when reading or writing.

Why do some people require bifocals or even trifocals as they age? ›

As we age, the lenses in our eyes gradually lose their flexibility. This process is called presbyopia, and it's the main reason most seniors need reading glasses for up-close work.

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