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Single Vision Lenses: The Ultimate Guide

Updated: 20 May 2024 •  
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If you’re having trouble reading the text on your screen or distinguishing signs on the road, then perhaps you could use some assistance from single vision lenses.
Read on to learn more about single vision lenses, and find out which lens type you’ll benefit from the most.

What are single vision lenses?

In a nutshell, single vision lenses are a type of lens that provides optical correction for a single distance. There are several kinds of single vision lenses that you can use, depending on the eye concern that you have.
For example, if you’re having difficulty reading something up close, your doctor can prescribe you with reading glasses to help you see close-up images or text better.
Similarly, if you have problems focusing on faraway objects, some distance glasses will be able to help you see them clearly.

What refractive errors can single vision lenses correct?

To better understand how single vision lenses work, it’s helpful to understand the different types of refractive errors out there. They can be something that a person is born with, or something that develops as they age.
As the most common type of vision problem there is, a refractive error is caused by a difference in the shape of the eye, which makes it hard for the retina to focus light correctly.
Below are the different types of refractive errors that single vision lenses can fix:

  • MyopiaAlso called nearsightedness, myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long from the front to the back, which makes the light focus in front of the retina instead of on it. This makes distant objects appear blurry, while those nearby appear in focus. Differences in the shape of the cornea can also cause nearsightedness, which may be hereditary or developed depending on one’s lifestyle.

  • HyperopiaThis refractive error is the opposite of myopia, and is often referred to as farsightedness. Unlike myopia, hyperopia occurs when the eyeball is too short from the front to the back, making the light focus behind the retina, instead of on it. People with hyperopia or farsightedness are usually born with this refractive error, but in many cases, hyperopia in children improves as the eyeball lengthens with development.

  • AstigmatismAstigmatism occurs when the cornea has a slightly different shape, making the light bend differently as it enters the eye, therefore causing both faraway and nearby objects to appear blurry or distorted. Those with astigmatism are either born with the refractive error or develop it during childhood or young adulthood.

By manipulating the way light enters the eye, single vision lenses allow light to properly focus on the retina, helping those with refractive errors achieve crystal clear vision.
For someone with farsightedness, their prescription lenses will be thicker at the center, while those with nearsightedness will have lenses that are thicker around the edges. As for those with astigmatism, their eyeglasses will include a special cylindrical lens to make up for how light passes through the cornea.

Single vision lenses vs other types of lenses

Much like its name suggests, single vision lenses are catered for individuals who need correction mainly at one distance.
But, for those who need assistance seeing objects at varying distances, doctors may recommend bifocal, trifocal, or progressive lenses to help them see better as they do their day-to-day tasks. Here are the key distinctions that you need to know:

  • Bifocal lensesThis type of lens contains two lens powers that allow you to see objects both near and far. Usually, the lower part of the bifocal lens has a prescription for reading, while the upper part of the lens has the necessary correction for distance vision.

  • Trifocal lensesThis type of lens has three distinct prescriptions in one lens, with the top portion containing the correction for distance vision, the middle portion for intermediate vision, and the lower portion for near vision.

  • Progressive lensesThis type of lens contains multiple corrections that enables its wearer to see all ranges of vision clearly. What makes these lenses so special is that they offer a gradual shift in prescription, whereas trifocals have a clear distinction between the three fields of vision.


How do I know if I need single vision glasses?

If you’re one who has never needed eyeglasses before, but suddenly start noticing your eyesight becoming less sharp than before, it may be a good sign to schedule an eye examination with your doctor.
Often acquired by years of close reading, non-stop scrolling on digital devices, or other eye-straining activities, here are some common symptoms that may be an indication that you need glasses:

  • Fuzzy or blurry vision.
  • Headaches or eye fatigue after long hours of reading.
  • Squinting at varying distances.
  • Appearance of halos or glares around lit objects.
  • Night blindness or inability to see well in poor light.

Not sure if you need glasses? Check out our article on signs you may need glasses.

How much do single vision lenses cost?

Depending on where you purchase them, a pair of single vision lenses can cost you around $100-$300, but there are also other factors that may affect the final cost of your eyeglasses, such as your prescription, any add-ons such as anti-reflective coating or blue light filtering, the frame material and brand of your glasses, and so on.
At Mouqy, we offer a huge range of single vision glasses – browse our collection today.

The different types of single vision lenses

Single vision lenses come in many different forms and materials. Here are 3 common types:

1. Polycarbonate

Polycarbonate lenses are durable and impact resistant, and are more lightweight and scratch resistant compared to plastic lenses. They are an ideal option for children’s glasses or for those who engage in sports, as well as individuals who are always out and about, since polycarbonate lenses also offer UV protection from the sun.

2. Trivex

Trivex lenses are a bit thicker than polycarbonate lenses, but are more lightweight and produce a sharper peripheral vision compared to polycarbonate lenses. Both polycarbonate and trivex lenses offer similar impact resistance and UV protection, though trivex lenses are a bit less accessible compared to the former.

3. High index

These lenses are usually recommended to people with high prescriptions, as high index lenses are made from a special material to keep them light. This is a great alternative to regular plastic lenses, which usually need to be much thicker to accommodate strong prescriptions. High index lenses present a slimmer, and more lightweight alternative.

Frequently asked questions

1. What are single vision lenses used for?

Single vision lenses are used to help people with farsightedness, nearsightedness, or astigmatism see clearer. This type of lens contains one correction that is distributed evenly across the entire lens’ surface area, which will allow light to properly focus on the retina.

2. What is the difference between single vision and reading glasses?

Reading glasses are a type of single vision lens that many farsighted wearers use to help them see close-up images or texts better. Those who need the same correction for both eyes usually purchase reading glasses over-the-counter, however those who require different corrections per eye will have to get a prescription from a doctor.

3. Can you wear single vision glasses all the time?

Of course! There is no reason why you can’t wear your single vision glasses throughout the day, but some people prefer to only use them when they need to (e.g. when driving, watching a movie, playing sports, etc.)

4. Do single vision lenses correct astigmatism?

Yes. Since those with astigmatism have an irregularly shaped cornea, single vision glasses for astigmatism will include special cylindrical lenses to make up for how light passes through the cornea’s asymmetric curvature, producing a sharper picture once worn.

Allysa Gatchalian
Allysa Gatchalian is a beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer based in Manila. She loves trying out new trends, discovering new k-dramas to watch, and sharing her favorite finds with friends.
Dr. Melody Huang
Melody Huang is an O.D. and medical writer with over ten years of expertise. As an optometric physician licensed with the California State Board of Optometry, Melody currently practices in the Los Angeles area.