Trifocal glasses solve vision issues for someone who has difficulty with up-close vision as well as with seeing clearly at intermediate and faraway distances.
The lenses have two lines in them to separate the three fields of focus. Most glasses correct only one field, and bifocals help with two fields.
Someone who needs trifocals to see well in all areas will need to get consistent checkups from their eye doctor to keep their prescription up to date.
What Are Trifocals?
As you age, your vision deteriorates and you may end up needing corrective eyeglasses to accomplish everyday tasks like reading, texting or driving. Most conventional pairs of glasses only fix one type of vision complication.
Trifocal glasses fix this issue by incorporating different vision focus points in one lens. The top part of the trifocal lens improves faraway vision, the middle part corrects intermediate distance, and the lower part deals with close-up vision.
Types of Trifocal Lenses
Eyeglass manufacturers produce two main types of trifocal glasses — flat top lenses and executive lenses.
- Flat top trifocal lenses are commonly prescribed as you can comfortably adjust to using them in no time. The intermediate and near vision zones are arranged in a D-shape, significantly improving your peripheral vision.
- Executive trifocal lenses have an intermediate zone that is considerably thinner and that can take a wearer some time to get used to. These glasses are also called the Franklin or E-style lenses.
Progressive glasses are not a type of trifocal lens even though they correct the same general vision problems. The two primary differences between trifocals and progressives are the lack of hard, visible lines in the lenses of progressives and the higher cost of progressives.
Are You a Candidate for Trifocal Glasses?
Eye doctors recommend trifocals for people aged 40 and above who have a history of wearing corrective lenses. They also suggest trifocals for people who begin experiencing presbyopia as a result of aging.
Presbyopia is a vision complication that results in farsightedness caused by loosening elasticity in the eye lens. Age causes a majority of presbyopia cases in middle and older generations.
Cost of Trifocals
Trifocals usually cost more than regular prescription glasses designed to correct only one vision issue (either farsightedness, nearsightedness or astigmatism). But they are less expensive when compared to almost all types of progressive lenses.
The average cost of trifocal lenses ranges from $120 to $200. The price changes when buyers select additional features such as transition lenses or UV protection, of when they request an upgrade on the lens material or quality.
In some instances, trifocals costs jump to as much as $1,000. That happens when various special customizations are added to the lens. Having a special shape or size in the lens segment is one element that can ramp up the price.
When buying trifocal glasses, ask for a breakdown of the costs to ensure you do not pay for features you don’t need. Also, check if your vision insurance policy covers some or all of the cost.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Trifocal Lenses
There are more reasons to get trifocal lenses than there are reasons not to. Here’s a look at both sides:
Advantages of Trifocals
- They correct three types of vision issues and suit people with blurry vision at different distances.
- Compared to progressive lenses, trifocals comprise a broader viewing area for intermediate and near vision. This means you can comfortably use a screen and read standard text.
- They are easy to adjust to compared to standard bifocal lenses or even most of the other corrective eyewear solutions.
- You can get different prescriptions for astigmatism and prisms in near and distance areas.
- You do not experience blurred vision in the peripheries.
Disadvantages of Trifocals
- You must change prescription more often as you age because the lenses service three fields of vision instead of two or one.
- Because trifocals fix three types of vision complications, they are not as customizable as to other eyewear options.
- Some people report experiencing image jumps, especially in the first few weeks of wearing them.
Trifocals vs. Other Types of Glasses
The most discernible feature of trifocal lenses is their ability to correct three different types of vision problems in one lens. But they do not work for everyone. There are instances where your specialist may advise you to try different types of glasses.
Some people need only standard lenses, while others need a dual-vision lens. In addition, some bifocal and trifocal lens candidates prefer to wear progressive lenses, which have no visible lens lines.
These are the most common type of corrective eyewear available today. Standard glasses can be customized to solve numerous vision problems. For instance, if you only suffer from hyperopia, you can get standard glasses to correct that specific vision.
As the name suggests, these glasses correct two fields of vision. The top part of the lens corrects distance vision, while the lower part corrects close-up vision. There’s usually a clear line on the lens marking the different fields of vision corrections.
Unlike their standard and trifocal counterparts, progressive glasses help improve the different fields of vision without having a discernible line on the lens. The prescription intensity and strength progressively rise from the top to the bottom of the lens.
Trifocal vs. Multifocal Contact Lenses
Multifocal contact lenses are an ideal solution for people with multiple refractive errors. For example, if you suffer from presbyopia along with another refractive error such as myopia, astigmatism or hyperopia, then multifocal contact lenses can help you.
There are numerous types of multifocal contact lenses, with bifocal lenses being just one example. Compared to other corrective eyeglasses, multifocal contacts are pricier.
Where to Buy Trifocal Lenses
Before you buy trifocals, though, you first should consult an eye specialist. You want to ensure that your prescription is up to date. And, if you are looking for your first pair of trifocals, you will want to talk through all the questions and concerns you have about the specialized lenses.
Essentially, you want to ensure they are the best option for you and won’t add to the vision issues you’re trying to correct.
What are the disadvantages of trifocal lenses?
Aside from needing some time to fully get used to, and the need to change them after a while, there are really no tangible downsides to getting trifocal glasses.
How do you know when you need trifocals?
If you are above age 40, already have vision problems, and have trouble reading text on the newspaper or screen at arm’s length, you likely need trifocal lenses. However, consult an eye specialist before getting the trifocal lenses.
Ultimately, trifocal glasses are a great option if you have trouble seeing a standard text from an intermediate distance. If you’re using progressive glasses, you can also make the switch to trifocals, so long as you don’t mind the subtle lines. Compared to progressives, trifocal lenses have five to 10 times bigger reading width area, making them ideal in numerous situations.
Common Eye Disorder and Diseases. (June 2020). Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
What is Presbyopia? (February 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Pros and Cons of Progressive Lenses. (June 2020). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
What is the Difference Between No-line Bifocals, progressive Bifocals, and trifocals? (November 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
How to Get the best Eyeglass Lenses. (December 2016). Consumer Reports.
Last Updated April 4, 2022
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