Varifocal Glasses & Lenses Explained

What are varifocal glasses?

Varifocal Glasses, also known as varifocals, varifocal lenses or progressive lenses, are used when you have two prescriptions, one for distance and one for reading.

Varifocal glasses have a gradual change in strength from the top of the lens to the bottom with multiple focal points allowing you to see all distances and focus points through just one lens.

This means the wearer doesn't need to buy and care for 2 pairs of glasses or need to switch between glasses for different vision needs.

Unlike bifocals, they do not contain a reading segment or dividing line within the lens which makes them more cosmetically pleasing and can also disguise presbyopia, the need for reading glasses, which can often be associated with age as it typically occurs from the age of 40 plus

How do varifocal lenses work?

Varifocal lenses work by having a gradual change in strength from the top of the lens to the bottom and multiple focal points in between. The upper part of the lens contains the distance power, the middle of the lens has the intermediate ranges and the lower portion, the reading part

Below are the basic 3 regions of a varifocal lens:

Distance Zone: The ‘upper’ portion of the varifocal lens provides the ‘distance’ viewing area.

Intermediate Zone: The distance and reading areas are connected via a ‘corridor’ of intermediate powers and provides viewing for ‘mid-range’ vision.

Near/Reading Zone: The ‘bottom/lower’ portion of the lens provides the ‘close up/reading’ area

This image shows the focal points of a varifocal lens:

How to use varifocal glasses:

Varifocals are very easy to use and you will adapt to them very quickly and find getting used to varifocals quite simple.

Varifocal glasses are positioned so that as you look through the top of the lens you will be viewing into the distance and in focus. To read, the gaze is simply lowered so that your eyes will now be looking through the lower portion of the lens, the reading part. Varifocal lenses also have an additional benefit in that they have an intermediate power range which is useful for ‘in between’ distances such as looking at shelves in a supermarket or the dashboard of your car and you simply lower or raise your head slightly until the view comes into focus. You will very quickly learn how to look through varifocals.

How to choose varifocal lenses:

We advise selecting a frame with a large eye size - the bigger eye, the bigger the vision as you will have a wider field of view and fully benefit from the lens area - although all of our frames, small & large, are suitable to be bought with varifocal lenses. Varifocal lenses and glasses are priced from £49.95. Typical speaking, the more you pay, the higher the specification of lens you get with improved vision.

The different types of varifocal lenses:

There are many different types of varifocals on the market offering numerous benefits and features dependent upon your lifestyle, needs and requirements.

Typically referred to as standard, premium, free form, occupational, lifestyle and elite.

The main differences & features of varifocal lens types are:

  • Larger distance viewing areas
  • Larger reading viewing areas
  • Wider field of vision, known as the ‘corridor’
  • Less peripheral distortion

Simply put, the more advanced varifocals have a wider field of vision with less peripheral distortion. They are often much easier to adapt to because of this.

This image shows the difference in the viewing field and distortion between a standard and a premium varifocal lens. The premium varifocal lens clearly having a wider field of vision and less peripheral distortion.

Different varifocal lens options:

Varifocal lenses are available in nearly all lens materials,coatings and designs, such as high-index lenses, polycarbonate lenses, photochromic lenses and polarised lenses. An added benefit of a photochromic or polarised varifocal lens is that they shield your eyes from 100 percent of the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Standard varifocal lenses:

Standard Varifocal lenses are the ‘entry level’ varifocal options and are chosen as an enhanced alternative to bifocals. They have clear vision and fairly wide focal areas for distance, reading and ‘in-between’. There will be some ‘peripheral distortion’ around the edge of the lens but this will be minimal and most customers will adapt to them very quickly.

Premium varifocal lenses:

Premium varifocal lenses, sometimes referred to as ‘free-form varifocals’ or ‘back-surfaced digital varifocal lenses’ are created using the latest computer driven equipment and have a wider field of vision at the distance, intermediate/in-between and reading focal points. This is because the lens is a customised varifocal lens and made to fit within the frame you have purchased. It is unique to your prescription and the lens shape of the frame you have chosen and therefore offers the fullest and widest vision possible with a smooth transition between the focal ranges. They have minimal peripheral distortion and are easy to adapt to.

Premium varifocal lenses offer much clearer vision at all points and are a significant step up from a standard varifocal lens in terms of vision, clarity, focus and ease of adapting to them.

Elite varifocal lenses:

These varifocal lenses will have the widest field of vision at all focal points with much less distortion around the edges. They are tailor made varifocal lenses and customised and made to fit within the frame you have purchased. They are very easy to adapt to and again, free coatings may be included.

Lifestyle/Occupational varifocal lenses:

These are specific to different lifestyle or occupation vision needs or for those who are constantly shifting their focus between distance, intermediate and reading and will provide a wider and clearer field of vision when looking ahead or into the distance. If you frequently perform tasks at arm's length - like reading a book or using a tablet device - then you'd appreciate a broader, more comfortable near zone of vision to help you see the details.

View our varifocal glasses here:

Varifocal Glasses & Lenses 

Adapting to varifocal glasses & lenses:

Although varifocal glasses need time to adapt to, the significant majority of wearers get used to them within hours and overall success rate is over 98%. The latest designs with wider fields of vision and less edge/peripheral distortion are the easiest to adapt to and will soon get used to wearing varifocal glasses.

Who makes the best varifocal lenses in 2018?

This is a difficult question to answer as there are many, many different manufacturers who make all types of varifocal lenses to suit all needs and budgets.

Here are some of the more popular and advanced varifocal lens options:

  • Essilor - "Varilux Comfort New Edition", "Varilux Physio 2" & "Varilux X Series"
  • Nikon - "Presio", "SeeMax Master"
  • Hoya - "GP", "iD Lifestyle", "Summit". "Balansis", "MyStyle V"
  • Carl Zeiss - "Zeiss Progressive Individual 2" & "Zeiss Progressive Plus 2" 

We offer 3 types of varifocal lenses for you:

1 - Standard varifocal - This is an unbranded digital lens.
It is fantastic value and a great starter to the world of varifocal lenses - chosen as an enhanced alternative to bifocals. There will be some ‘peripheral distortion’ around the edge of the lens but this will be minimal


2 - Premium free-form varifocal - This is a Hoya FreeForm lens.
It is quite simply one of the best value varifocal lenses available today. The premium varifocal option also includes a free ‘anti reflection and scratch resistant coating’ worth over £25.00 to further improve the clarity, focus and ultimately your vision.


3 - Elite free-form digital varifocal - This is the Essilor X Series FreeForm lens.
Varilux X Series varifocal lenses are the most advanced progressive lenses available in the market today and are for customers who want the latest technologies and premium products with the highest level of vision. Varilux X Series lenses provide all the benefits of other Varilux lens designs, while eliminating the “off-balance” feeling sometimes experienced when wearing other progressive lenses whilst offering superior clarity and a wide filed of view. Whatever the distance, whatever the situation, you will see the difference immediately. This is our elite varifocal choice and has been carefully selected to offer unrivalled clarity, the widest viewing area possible at all focal points including distance, intermediate and reading areas with almost no distortion around the edges. It is fantastic value and many £100.00’s cheaper than the same lens will costs on the high st and other online retailers.

How to buy varifocal glasses online:

Buying varifocal glasses or lenses is as simple as selecting it as an option when choosing your lenses.

It is quicker, more efficient and cheaper than visiting the high st. 

Please don't hesitate to contact us should you require any further information and one of our advisers will be happy to assist you in selecting the correct varifocals & lens options for your prescription, lifestyle and budget.

Quite simply put - with the low prices we offer and the latest varifocal lens designs combined with a full money back guarantee - Online Opticians UK is the best place to buy varifocal lenses.

But remember, for total piece for mind, we offer our “no quibble 30 day, 100% money back guarantee” on all purchases.

View our varifocal glasses here:

Varifocal Glasses & Lenses

Freephone:0800 690 6220

sales@onlineopticiansuk.com

Further Information:

Essilor Lenses: Essilor invented the world's first varifocal, and are world famous for the Varilux lens, which was invented in 1959 and a total of 300 million people around the world wear or have worn Varilux lenses, with a new wearer every three seconds!!!

Hoya Lenses: For 75 years, Hoya Vision’s revolutionary optical and healthcare solutions have been pushing technological boundaries for customers around the world. Lens design has advanced considerably over the years, but one thing has remained unchanged: the dedication to quality and innovation for which Hoya Vision has become known. 

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