Progressive vs. bifocal: What’s better for your safety glasses?

Progressive vs. bifocal: What’s better for your safety glasses? header image

The need for corrective lenses is extremely common – even when your job calls for protective safety eyewear – which is why safety companies have increasingly been producing reader-like safety glasses to help better serve workers’ eye needs, combining the two lenses within one frame.

There are two distinct kinds of reader safety lenses on the market: progressive lenses and bifocal lenses. However, there are some misconceptions about these options, such as that progressive and bi-focal lenses are the same or that progressive lenses are the same as transitional lenses that turn dark in sunlight, both of which are not the case. So, what exactly are your reader safety options? Let’s take a look.

Bifocal Lens vs Progressive Lens

The difference is clearer than you think

First, let’s start with some quick facts. Both progressive and bi-focal options are used when a magnification is needed within the lens, helping object appears bigger and clearer, and can be prescription- or non-prescription-based. Most safety glasses will cover workers who need non-prescription-based eyewear, as anything prescription-based typically needs eye-doctor involvement. Though similar, progressive and bifocal lenses work in slightly different ways. Read the clear differences below.

Bifocal lens

This lens option has two viewing areas divided by a visible line: a larger viewing area for distance and a smaller segment for reading, which is most often a small rectangular shape located within the bottom half of the lens.

A downside to this kind of lens is that some people find the “image jump” that occurs at the visible line of magnification obtrusive, especially for those that must look down when walking. However, this effect can be mitigated by wearing bifocals as much as possible to get used to the difference.

Progressive lens

This lens option will also provide magnification, but unlike a bifocal that has a concentrated magnification area, progressive lenses will span the entire length of the lower lens. Also, unlike bifocals, there is no visible line between each viewing area.

Based on your need magnification need, most commonly, progressives will start at a 0 magnification at the center of the lens and then slowly “progress” in magnification with a seamless, invisible design throughout as you move down towards the bottom of the lens with your line of view. Many people confuse “bifocal” with “progressive,” but it is key to remember that bifocals have a visible line in the lens, while progressives do not.

Choosing a progressive lens for your safety eyewear

In choosing between a bifocal lens or a progressive lens for your safety glasses, your needs simply depend on your preference, as there aren’t applications that would justify one over the other. When it comes to progressive lenses, here are a few reasons why this kind of safety reader is preferred:

  1. Edge-to-edge magnification for less eye fatigue – Because progressives have no line in the lens and run the entire length of the lower lens, the eye is able to more easily adjust to the changes in magnification. Not only does this help the wearer use their peripheral vision, but eye fatigue is mitigated due to less-drastic eye corrections throughout the working day.
  2. Allows wearer to find optimal magnification – Progressives will start at 0 magnification at the center of the lens and then slowly build up to varying degrees of magnification, with a +1 or +2 being the highest. For example, a +2 progression will include +.25, +.5, +1. +1.25, and +1.5 magnification, allowing the wearer to find their sweet spot.
  3. Reduces SKU’s – Instead of having potentially several pairs of glasses for each magnification need, progressives offer all-in-one convenience, allowing you to reduce SKUs and consolidate your corrective eyewear inventory.

Note that if you are switching from a bifocal lens, it might take some time to get used to a progressive lens. Give your eyes 10-20 minutes to adjust to the difference.

Choose what’s right for you

If you aren’t sure what type of lens or magnification you need, try testing your options to see which one works best for you. Again, the types of magnification lenses mentioned here are not based on prescription options.

If you are looking for something more than a +2 magnification or are experiencing issues with your current lenses, it’s best to consult a medical professional. Options for over-the-glasses safety eyewear are also available for those with prescription glasses.

HexArmor® can help

From premium components to edge-to-edge optical clarity, HexArmor’s safety eyewear works to give wearers the highest durability, comfort, and fit on the market – and that goes for people who need corrective lenses, both in readers and over-the-glasses safety eyewear.

HexArmor® offers:

Plus, all of HexArmor's safety eyewear is Z87+ approved, so you know you're getting the best eye protection on the market - see our safety eyewear technology.

Let us know if you need help - our Solution Specialists are ready to work with you. Call 1-877-MY ARMOR or send us a message.

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