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Varifocal Lenses: A Comprehensive Guide

CEO Tinh Phung
In this article, we will explore all the essential aspects related to varifocal lenses. From their intriguing history to their advantages, disadvantages, and tips for caring, we will cover it all. So, let's dive in!...

In this article, we will explore all the essential aspects related to varifocal lenses. From their intriguing history to their advantages, disadvantages, and tips for caring, we will cover it all. So, let's dive in!

The Evolution of Varifocal Lenses

Varifocal lenses, also known as progressive lenses, have revolutionized the way we correct our vision by offering a seamless transition between near, intermediate, and distant vision. But have you ever wondered about their origin? Let's take a journey through the fascinating history of varifocal lenses.

The Early Beginnings

Varifocal lenses can be traced back to the early 20th century when individuals with presbyopia needed multiple pairs of glasses for different visual requirements. Pioneers in ophthalmology and optics recognized this inconvenience and set out to find a solution.

The Birth of Bifocals

Before varifocal lenses, Benjamin Franklin is credited with inventing bifocal lenses in the late 18th century. Bifocals allowed wearers to shift their gaze between near and far distances, but the noticeable line dividing the two sections remained a drawback.

Progressive Advancements

In the early 1900s, the first truly progressive lenses emerged, featuring a seamless transition between prescriptions. Innovators like Carl Zeiss introduced lenses with a gradient of prescription strengths, marking a significant improvement over traditional bifocals.

Modern-Day Varifocal Lenses

Today, varifocal lenses have become highly sophisticated and personalized. Advances in design and manufacturing technology allow for lenses tailored to individual visual requirements, ensuring optimal comfort and clarity.

The Future of Varifocal Lenses

As technology advances, varifocal lenses continue to improve. Manufacturers are constantly refining designs to make them more compact and enhance vision clarity across all distances. The future holds even more remarkable innovations in the world of varifocal lenses.

Understanding the Need for Varifocal Lenses

Varifocal lenses are necessary for people in their early forties who require different prescriptions for distance vision tasks, such as driving, and reading. This is due to presbyopia, a common condition where the eye's flexibility decreases over time, resulting in blurred near vision.

How Do Varifocals Work?

Varifocal lenses incorporate multiple prescriptions into a single lens. The top portion is for distance vision, the bottom portion is for near vision, and the middle section is for intermediate vision (1-2 meters). This seamless transition eliminates the need for multiple pairs of glasses, offering convenient and clear vision at all distances.

Varifocal lens design Varifocal lens design

Differences Between Varifocal Designs

While varifocal lenses may seem similar, there are significant differences between designs and manufacturers. Here are key factors to consider when comparing different varifocal designs:

  • Personalization: Major lens manufacturers offer personalized varifocal lenses based on an individual's unique prescription, visual needs, and frame fitting.
  • Freeform Technology: Modern varifocal lenses utilize freeform technology, resulting in more complex designs and better optical performance.
  • Peripheral Distortion: Manufacturers aim to reduce peripheral distortion to provide wider areas of clear vision from distance to intermediate.
  • Corridor Length: The length between the pupil center and the top of the reading area varies, affecting the area of clear intermediate vision available.

Differences between varifocal designs Differences between varifocal designs

The Importance of Correct Fitting

Proper fitting is crucial to ensure optimal vision with varifocal lenses. Qualified dispensing opticians should handle the fitting process to avoid errors that can result in poor overall vision.

Advantages of Varifocals

Varifocal lenses offer several advantages. The seamless transition between distance and near vision eliminates the need to switch between multiple pairs of glasses, providing convenience and ease of use. Additionally, varifocals have an aesthetic appeal, as there is no visible line on the lens, making them a preferred choice for maintaining style. Moreover, varifocals provide clear vision at all distances, including intermediate vision.

Disadvantages of Varifocals

While varifocals offer numerous advantages, they also have a few disadvantages. The adjustment period can take some time for individuals to adapt to the progressive lens design and their new prescription. However, the number of people who don't adapt to varifocals is small, and the initial adaptation period is definitely worth persevering. Some individuals may also find it challenging to use varifocals for tasks that require precise near or intermediate vision. In such cases, a dedicated office lens or alternative solutions may be recommended.

Tips for Adjusting to Varifocals

The time it takes to adapt to varifocals varies for each person. Here are a few tips to help you adjust more quickly:

  1. Give yourself time: It is normal to experience some initial discomfort or unease when transitioning to varifocals.
  2. Move your head: When using varifocals, remember to move your head instead of just your eyes when looking in different directions. This ensures your eyes stay within the areas of clear vision.
  3. Start with simple tasks: Begin by using varifocals for simple stationary tasks like reading or watching television. Gradually introduce more visually demanding activities as you become comfortable.
  4. Communicate any issues: If you experience persistent discomfort or visual problems with your varifocals, don't hesitate to contact your optician for further assistance.

The Best Varifocal Lenses

There are several top-quality bespoke varifocal lenses available in the market. Some notable options include:

  1. Seiko's Brilliance lens, designed in Japan, incorporates the Personal Design Selection System and Balance Zone Technology to reduce magnification for those with high prescriptions.
  2. The Neurogran lens from Tokai, Japanese optical lens specialists, incorporates the N-link system and a super flexible inset.
  3. Nikon's SeeMax Ultimate lens is a market leader known for its quick adaption.

Seiko Brilliance Seiko Brilliance

Varifocal Lens Costs

The cost of varifocal lenses varies depending on the quality and customization. Prices range from £150 to £825 for top-quality varifocal lenses. Investing in bespoke varifocal lenses ensures minimal distortion, a wide area for intermediate and reading vision, and the thinnest and lightest lens materials, providing maximum comfort and optical performance.

Varifocal Sunglasses and Additional Options

Varifocals are available as sunglasses, offering a wide range of tint colors to suit individual preferences. In addition, varifocals can be customized with various coatings to enhance performance:

  • Coatings: Traditional anti-reflection coatings, blue-light filter coatings, and night-driving coatings.
  • Sun Protection: Choose between photochromic lenses that react to UV light or polarized sun lenses that protect against bright sunlight and glare.

Caring for Your Varifocal Lenses

To ensure longevity and optimal performance, follow these tips for caring for your varifocal lenses:

  1. Clean your lenses daily: Rinse the lenses under lukewarm water and wipe them dry with a microfiber lens cloth. Then, wipe the lenses again with a fresh microfiber cloth to remove any smudges or debris.
  2. Avoid extreme heat: Exposing varifocal lenses to extreme heat can damage the anti-reflection coating. Avoid wearing glasses in steam rooms or leaving them in direct sunlight on your dashboard.
  3. Store correctly: When not wearing your glasses, store them face up to prevent any damage to the frame.

Varifocal Contact Lenses

For those who prefer contact lenses, varifocal or multifocal contact lenses are available from major manufacturers such as Alcon, Johnson & Johnson, and Coopervision. Consult with an optometrist to find the best fitting and most suitable lens material for your comfort and vision needs.

Alternatives to Varifocals: Bifocal Lenses

Bifocals are another option to consider. They incorporate two different prescriptions, one for distance vision and the other for reading. Bifocals offer clear distinction between the two vision zones, making it easy to switch between distances. They are also more affordable compared to varifocals.

Bifocal Types

If you are considering updating your varifocals or trying them for the first time, we recommend booking an appointment with a qualified optician who can guide you through the process.

Remember, varifocal lenses are a testament to human ingenuity and our commitment to enhancing vision. Embrace the technology and enjoy clear vision at all distances.