Your life and eyes 5 min read

Understanding how varifocal lenses work

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Varifocal lenses are also known as progressive lenses, learn how these lenses correct your vision and help people see at all distances through one lens.

Varifocal lenses are a common type of corrective lens and were first invented in 1959 by ourselves. Generally speaking, they are designed to let you see clearly at near to far and everything in between, with different parts of the lens optimised for the various distances required. Varifocal lenses are a solution for a natural condition known as presbyopia; an age-related process which affects your ability to see objects close up. It is common in those aged 40 and over.

Varifocal lenses are also known as progressive lenses, offering two prescriptions in one lens to help with both reading and distance vision correction.

lenses stacked on top of each other

Why you might need varifocal lenses

As you get older, the crystalline lens of your eye usually becomes stiffer and loses its elasticity, which means you will struggle to see things up close. This occurrence is known as presbyopia.

As presbyopia is an age-related condition, it’s not something you can prevent and is perfectly normal. As you reach the age of 40, you may begin to notice changes in your vision. This is likely to be the onset of presbyopia. However, you should always see your local optician if you notice anything different in your eyesight.

You might notice blurred vision, particularly when looking at objects close up, or even poor vision in dim light conditions. If you are developing presbyopia, you will probably find yourself holding objects at a distance to see them better. Other symptoms might include headaches, eye strain or having difficulty adjusting your vision between different distances.

comparision of a normal eye to a eye with presbyopia

How can varifocal lenses help?

Varifocal lenses are a modern solution to a vision problem that has been around centuries. Previously, people opted to wear bifocals to deal with both a reading and distance prescription. Bifocals are designed with a sudden change between distance vision and near vision and have a visible line across the middle of the lens separating the prescriptions. This can sometimes result in disorientation as the wearer moving from distance vision to near vision or vice versa.

Varifocal lenses, on the other hand, offer a much smoother and gradual change, making it much more comfortable. Previous designs required a tilt or movement of your head to see through the correct part of the lens.

Newer progressive lenses, such as  Varilux X series, have been created to combat this. Designed to adapt to your busy, on-the-go lifestyle, Varilux X series is a new generation of varifocal lenses that create a seamless vision experience.

Introducing Varilux X series

The intermediate and near vision are the most used in your day-to-day lives including things like looking at your phones, computers and talking to people face-to-face. In other words, the majority of your vision is used within arm’s reach. 

Based on this, Varilux X series was developed with a number of different technologies to allow a more seamless, enjoyable and tailored experience when wearing varifocal lenses. 

Xtend technology was developed to optimise the lens, allowing you to capture multiple targets in one gaze direction. This can help to reduce the need for head movements. A recent study in France showed that 97% of those studied reported making ‘few’ or ‘no’ horizontal head movements, and 93% reported making ‘few’ or ‘no’ vertical head movements in order to use their near vision.
Nanoptix technology is able to reduce image aberration between various distances, which is often experienced when wearing older generations of varifocal lenses. This technology creates a refined curvature of the lens, creating better vision stability.

Synchroneyes technology maximises vision from one edge of the lens to the other, ensuring you are able to see through any part of the lens clearly.

woman looking at her phone wearing varifocals

Wearing Varilux lenses

Varilux X series offers sharp, clear vision from near to far and everything in between, allowing you to seamlessly move your gaze. Reduced need of unnecessary head movement and less restriction across the lens are two of the major benefits. What’s more, your Varilux X series lenses can be modified through various measurements at a partner optician, to suit your near vision behaviour, chosen frame, dominant eye, how your eyes move and prescription perfectly.

Varifocal lenses are usually prescribed after a routine eye examination. This is why it is so important to have eye examinations regularly. Your optician will be able to recognise any problems, such as presbyopia, as well as looking out for your health.