What are single vision lenses?

Single vision lenses provide optical correction for a single type of vision.

  • Close vision: within 30cm (reading & writing)
  • Intermediate: arms length (computer work)
  • Distance: beyond arms length (driving or watching TV)

These lenses singularly cater for either near, intermediate or farsightedness, hence their name of being 'single vision'.

Lenses which cater for multiple visual distances (multifocal lenses) differ as they simultaneously cater for two or three types of vision.

Let's delve into a little more detail.


Single vision meaning

The meaning of single vision lenses is to correct a single vision zone, not multiple vision zones. This can be for near-vision within 30cm, intermediate vision at arms length, or distance-vision beyond arm’s length.

Reading glasses help if you’re hyperopic (farsighted) to see things up close. This will be shown on your prescription as a + figure in your Sphere box.

Distance glasses help if you’re myopic (nearsighted) to see things far away beyond arm’s length. This will be shown on your prescription as a figure in your Sphere box.

Reading glasses or distance glasses are both examples of single vision lenses as they singularly correct that particular vision zone.

Making sense so far?


Side view of Asian man wearing tortoise glasses and black coat


What is the difference between single vision and progressive lens?

Single vision lenses provide correction for one vision zone. Progressive (varifocal) lenses provide correction for all three vision zones; near, intermediate and distance.

This is why progressive lenses are the equivalent of three pairs of single vision lenses in one. It’s also why they’re more expensive as they’re more complex and made bespoke for you.


What is the difference between single vision and reading glasses?

Reading glasses are actually a sub-type of single vision lenses as they singularly correct your close vision. This visual zone includes anything within 30cm from your eyes.


What is single vision distance?

Single vision distance is a term for lenses that correct your distance vision to see far away. If you are nearsighted, you will need distance single vision lenses for help seeing objects beyond arm’s length.


How do I know if I have single vision?

Single vision prescriptions don't feature any ADD (addition) power. If your ‘intermediate addition’ or ‘near addition’ sections are blank, you only require single vision lenses.


What does plano mean?

If you see PL, Plano or an infinity symbol ∞ in your SPH (sphere) box, this means your respective eye doesn't require optical correction. In other words, it requires neither a plus or a minus spherical power and is therefore 'plain'. For more information on plano prescriptions click here.


Asian male wearing single vision tortoise spectacles


Is astigmatism single vision?

Astigmatism is not single vision. It is a common condition describing the uneven curvature of your cornea resulting in a refractive defect causing visual blur. Astigmatism is prevalent whether you need single vision or multifocal lenses.

If you are astigmatic, your CYL and AXIS boxes will both contain digits.

To learn more about astigmatism, click here.


Can you wear single vision glasses all the time?

Yes, you can wear single vision glasses all the time. They will aid your eyesight to see properly whether for distance or for close reading and can reduce unnecessary eyestrain.


More information?

For more help about understanding the details on your prescription, why not check out my handy blog? There, you can understand your prescription details and see what kind of lenses you'll need.

Also, if you're unsure if you need thinned lenses, I've also written a guide on choosing the right lens thickness for you.

Thanks for stopping by.


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