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38 mm69 mm

Progressive Lenses

What is a varifocal lens?

We’ll start with just a simple lens. The most basic lens type is called a single-vision lens because it corrects one single visual difficulty. This can be distance, intermediate or near vision. To move one up from a single-vision lens, you find bifocals. One of the most common questions is what is a varifocal lens vs bifocals. So a bifocal is made up of two corrective powers: the top half clarifies objects at a distance; the bottom half clarifies objects close up. The two sections of the lens are separated by a line across the middle. 


This is what gives bifocals the nickname of “granny glasses”, as the line is typically associated with older generations. Next up are trifocals, which work exactly the same as a bifocal, except that there is a third corrective power in the centre of the lens for intermediate distances, such as a computer. Note that in this lens there will be two visible lines intersecting the different prescriptive powers. What a varifocal lens does is offer the same three correction powers, but without the lines across the middle. The different prescriptions blend into one another seamlessly. 


Perks of a varifocal lens

In comparison with bifocal lenses, there are a few advantages to the varifocal lens. The main benefit is the removal of lines across the lens, making the glasses frame generally more fashionable. 


The other perk to varifocal lenses is that the eye will transition seamlessly from one distance to another. In bifocals, the human eye tends to make an awkward jump between the two distances, which can be very uncomfortable for the wearer. Fortunately, the varifocal lens design eliminates this problem, making them much more comfortable. 


Another benefit of varifocal lens glasses is that they combine up to three pairs of glasses into one. So if you have one pair for reading, a second for computer work, and another for driving, a varifocal lens will replace the lot. This can save you both time and effort trying to remember where they all are!


Varifocal lens disadvantages

Of course, nothing is quite perfect. Although varifocal lenses do a lot, they do not achieve 100% across everything. As a result of there being three corrective powers in just one lens, the sides of the lens can become a little confused. You may notice your peripheral vision becoming slightly more blurred. This can take time for the eye to adjust to, but it can be managed when choosing your lens type, such as free-form varifocal lenses, but we’ll come to that later. It is also worth noting that because three lenses are essentially squeezed into one, you cannot put a varifocal lens into any optical frame. You should be wary of smaller frame sizes and slightly wacky designs, as the lenses may not fit. Fortunately, this webpage filters all the frames for you so that you won’t accidentally choose one that isn’t compatible with varifocal lenses.


The other downside to varifocal lenses is that they can take time to adapt to. The eye is not used to making transitions between different distances. As a result, you may notice a few symptoms the first time you wear them, and they can last between seven hours and seven days. You may notice dizziness as a result of changes to your depth perception. You will likely notice this when climbing the stairs. In the worst cases, you may experience the so-called “swim effect”. This is when everything around you seems like it’s moving, which can understandably be slightly unnerving. However, do not worry, it is totally normal, and should subside within a few weeks. If it doesn’t, you may need to visit your local optician.


Types of varifocal lenses

There are a few different types of varifocal lenses, and they are suited to different people, depending on your visual requirements and lifestyle. 


At SmartBuyGlasses, we offer two high-quality options for you to choose from. The first is premium varifocal lenses. This lens is a classic varifocal, with each prescription area blending smoothly into the next for a smooth viewing transition. 


The second varifocal lens option is the Deluxe. These are Arise Collective™ Clarity varifocal lenses with an elevated design, up to a 30% wider viewing field for increased comfort and quicker adaptation time when transitioning between each prescription. The Deluxe option also includes the state-of-the-art Impact X coating, providing optimal protection and safety.


Select one of these options at checkout and add different lens coatings to your glasses to take them to the next level.


Who are varifocal lenses for?

Varifocal lenses are becoming more and more popular every day. With everyone using digital screens more frequently, people tend to need glasses at a younger age, and there is increasingly more demand for multiple vision correction requirements to be met at once. This makes varifocal lenses a fashionable choice for your eye care. 


Varifocal glasses are mainly recommended for those with multiple frames for different purposes. If you spend half your life swapping from distance glasses while on a walk to reading specs to check your phone, you will fall in love with varifocal lenses. After all, keeping track of one pair of glasses can be hard enough!


It is also worth considering varifocal lenses if you are struggling to see through your single vision lens. Our eyes develop and change over time, so you may find that where your single-vision lenses used to cover all bases, they no longer cater to longer-distance vision. In this case, you need to get your eyes checked by an optician, which we should all be doing once every couple of years anyway. The optician may well recommend you varifocal lenses to solve all your requirements in one pair of frames. In this instance, you know where to come! 


Where can I shop for varifocal lenses?

We offer thousands of glasses frames, and all the ones on this page are compatible with varifocal lenses. You can virtually try them all on with our Virtual Try-On, and then purchase with our best price guarantee. Plus, the varifocal lens price at SmartBuyGlasses is equally competitive. Once you have added your new frames to the online basket, simply upload your prescription details or email them to us later. If you have questions at any stage of the process, read up on eye care information in our Optical Centre or ask our online opticians a question. The whole team is always happy to help.


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