What are Varifocal Glasses? Exploring Their Benefits and Functions

Varifocal glasses serve as a versatile and practical solution for those who need corrective eyewear that accommodates various distances. These innovative lenses have a gradual change in strength from the top to the bottom, enabling multiple focal points in between. 

With just one pair of varifocal glasses, users can experience clear vision at all distances, be it close-up tasks, computer work or distant viewings.

These lenses are also quite helpful for individuals with presbyopia, an age-related eye condition commonly experienced by people over the age of 40. Symptoms might include blurred vision, strained eyes, and difficulty seeing in dimly lit environments. 

Varifocal lenses address this issue by providing a seamless transition between near and far distances without the need for lines that typically separate bifocal lens segments. This feature not only offers a more visually appealing look but also promotes natural, effortless vision adjustments throughout daily activities.

In addition, varifocal glasses present a convenient alternative to carrying multiple pairs of eyewear for different tasks. As they cater to an array of vision needs, one can enjoy various activities like driving, shopping, and reading with ease and comfort.

what are these type of lenses

Understanding Varifocal Glasses

Varifocal Lens Technology

Varifocal glasses are a modern solution that bring together multiple prescriptions into one lens. They’re designed to correct vision at different working distances, ranging from near to far. 

These lenses are also referred to as progressive lenses, as they progressively change in strength from the top to the bottom without any noticeable dividing lines. This creates a smooth transition, making it easier for the wearer to switch between tasks that require different focus levels.

Advantages of Varifocal Lenses

There are several benefits to using varifocal glasses:

  • Adaptability: Varifocals cater to multiple vision needs, reducing the necessity to switch between different pairs of glasses.
  • Aesthetic appeal: Unlike bifocal lenses, varifocals don’t have a visible line on the lens, making them look similar to single vision glasses.
  • Smooth transition: The progressive nature of the lens allows for a seamless shift between near, intermediate, and far-distance vision.
  • Presbyopia relief: As people age, they may develop presbyopia – a condition that makes focusing on nearby objects difficult. Varifocal lenses address this issue by offering clear vision across all distances.

Varifocals vs Bifocals and Single Vision Lenses

Aspect Varifocal Lenses Bifocal Lenses Single Vision Lenses
Vision Correction Multiple distances Two distances One distance
Transition Smooth, no visible lines Visible line N/A
Presbyopia Relief Yes Yes, to some extent No
Aesthetic Appearance Similar to single vision Line dividing lens regions Uninterrupted lens surface

While single vision lenses cater to one specific distance, bifocal lenses provide correction for two distances, typically near and far. However, bifocal lenses have a visible dividing line between the regions, which can be distracting and less aesthetically pleasing.

Varifocal lenses, on the other hand, offer a more elegant and versatile option compared to bifocals or single vision lenses. The smooth transition between the different power regions provides a comfortable, uninterrupted viewing experience, allowing wearers to seamlessly change their focus between various distances without multiple pairs of glasses or visible dividing lines.

lenses for distances

Choosing the Right Varifocal Lenses

Consulting with an Optician

The process of selecting varifocal glasses should begin with a thorough consultation with a qualified optician. They will assess your vision needs, discuss your preferences, and recommend the most suitable lens options. This step is particularly important because varifocal lenses can be tailor-made to fit your specific requirements and lifestyle.

Prescription Considerations

It is important to consider the various prescription factors when choosing varifocal lenses. Some prescriptions may limit you to specific frame styles due to lens thickness. However, generally, there is a wide range of options for both mild and strong prescriptions, with over 1,000 types of varifocal glasses available on the market. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Internal frame width: The horizontal width of the frame measured from the furthest sides.
  • Bridge width: The distance between the lenses.
  • Lens height: The vertical height of each lens.
  • Lens diameter: The horizontal width of each lens at its widest point.
  • Temple length: The length of the arms of the glasses.

By understanding these factors, you can better discuss your preferences with the optician and find the most comfortable fit for your varifocal glasses.

Lifestyle and Varifocal Lenses

Your lifestyle plays a significant role in determining the best varifocal lenses for you. Some considerations include your daily activities, work requirements, and hobbies that may influence your choice.

Here’s a brief overview of different lifestyle factors and how they might affect your varifocal lens selection:

  • Reading and close-up tasks: Varifocal lenses should provide a smooth transition from distance to near vision, making them an excellent choice for people who frequently engage in reading or other close-up tasks.
  • Outdoor activities: If you’re an active person who enjoys outdoor pursuits, consider lenses with a wider field of view and additional features, such as anti-glare or UV protection coatings.
  • Computer use: For people who spend a lot of time in front of a computer, varifocal lenses designed for extended screen usage can help to reduce eye strain and improve visual comfort.
computer and glasses

Living with Varifocal Glasses

Varifocal glasses provide a solution for individuals with presbyopia, offering clear vision at various distances using a single pair of lenses. They can significantly improve the quality of life for those who require vision correction, however, some adaptation time may be necessary.

Adapting to Varifocals

When first using varifocal lenses, it’s normal to experience some initial distortion or peripheral distortion. This is because the lenses feature various corrective powers from top to bottom, transitioning seamlessly for near, intermediate, and far distances. 

Individuals may need to make slight head movements to locate the appropriate area of the lens for the desired focal distance.

During the adaptation period, it’s advisable to:

  • Wear the varifocal glasses consistently to allow the eyes and brain to adjust more quickly.
  • Practice focusing on different objects at varying distances to become familiar with the lens’s zones.
  • Be cautious when navigating stairs and uneven surfaces, as depth perception may initially be affected.

Within a short time, most users will become accustomed to their varifocal glasses and enjoy the benefits they offer.

Care and Maintenance

To maximise the lifespan and maintain the function of varifocal lenses, proper care and maintenance is really important. Here are some practical tips for looking after your varifocal glasses:

  • Clean regularly: Gently clean the lenses with a soft, lint-free cloth and a suitable lens cleaning solution. Avoid using abrasive materials or chemicals, as these can damage the lens coatings.
  • Store safely: When not in use, store the glasses in a sturdy case to protect them from scratches, impacts, and environmental damage.
  • Handle with care: When putting on or removing the glasses, use both hands to prevent misalignment or unnecessary stress on the frame.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can damage lens coatings and frames. Avoid leaving the glasses in hot environments, such as inside a car on a sunny day.

Additionally, high-quality varifocal lenses, such as those produced by ZEISS, may offer improved clarity and reduced distortion, especially in the peripheral regions of the lens.