What Are Varifocal Lenses?

As we age, our eyes gradually lose the ability to focus on things up close. This is a condition called presbyopia. It occurs when the lens cannot focus light correctly on the retina, which is responsible for passing visual information to the brain. Presbyopia is a normal part of aging and usually sets in after age 45. Over a quarter, or 26%, of the world’s population is currently presbyopic, and an estimated 123 million live in the United States alone.

Concerningly, however, 38% of presbyopes do not see an eye care practitioner each year. This means many people with presbyopia are not getting the eyewear they need for clear and comfortable vision. Varifocal lenses are specialty lenses that can help with this condition, so for those struggling with or who suspect they may have presbyopia, it’s essential to understand what they are and how they work.

What are varifocal lenses?

Varifocal lenses, also called progressive or multifocal lenses, are specialty lenses that correct both near and distant vision. This is relevant because presbyopia involves difficulty with seeing up-close objects, and typically, those with this condition may also have myopia, which affects difficulty with seeing things in the distance. In essence, varifocal lenses can help with these refractive errors, allowing you to see at various distances for different tasks, such as driving and reading.

If you have other refractive errors like farsightedness or astigmatism, it can be helpful to read an explanation on varifocal lenses. Today’s modern varifocals have three “parts” of vision within a single lens: long-distance at the top, reading at the bottom, and intermediate in the middle. This eliminates the need to carry multiple glasses and swap them throughout the day. However, they can have an element of peripheral distortion due to the nature of their design. The premium KODAK Easy2 Max Lens offers increased clarity and reduced distortion in those peripheral areas, making these lenses adaptable, especially for new wearers. While getting used to these lenses can take several days, the convenience of wearing only one pair proves worth it.

Pros and cons of varifocal lenses

As mentioned, varifocal lenses allow the wearer to see at various distances using a single lens. This is convenient for frequent travelers, older adults, or anyone who would prefer not to risk losing a crucial pair of glasses. They are also advantageous for those who enjoy reading. Previously, we talked about how e-ink displays can provide additional reading and visual comfort. Varifocal lenses can provide universal comfort, even when reading on a regular display. Plus, unlike bifocal lenses, they do not have visible lines. This can benefit those who don’t want their glasses to give off their age.

However, some people may find it hard to adjust their head movements to see through the right parts of their varifocal lenses. Others may be bothered by the blurring of images in the periphery. Initially, the lenses may cause discomfort or even mild headaches, but you want to power through this period to enjoy the overarching benefits of varifocals.

Buying tips

The technology behind varifocal lenses has evolved in leaps and bounds, and those who want to use the latest advancements should keep their eyes peeled. For instance, Clifford Benjamin Optometrists specialize in engineering lenses that perfectly match your frame and posture. The brand’s newly-designed varifocal lenses feature artificial intelligence technology. When buying varifocals, be sure to balance new features with everyday practicality. Finding a pair that suits you aesthetically and is physically comfortable is essential.

Finally, it’s crucial to commit to your varifocal lenses. Avoid swapping them with single-visions, and wear them for as long as you can daily to get the most benefit. With constant wear over time, your varifocal lenses can help make day-to-day activities easier.