Varifocals - SureSpecs
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What are they? What do they do? Who are they for?


Varifocals or Progressive Power Lenses (PPLs) are used in glasses to correct - for the most part - presbyopia. This is the natural ageing of the eyes starting around mid-forties, which results in a worsening ability to focus on close-up objects. Varifocal lenses were first invented in the early part of the 20th century with designs coming from Zeiss and Essilor in the early 50’s. The design is characterised by its gradient of increasing lens power, giving the wearer the ability to focus on objects at various distances, most commonly far distance (infinity) to close-up near vision (30-40 cm). This, in turn, gives the wearer much more natural vision than say compared with vision through bifocals or swapping between single vision lenses. 


Typical progressive or varifocal lens design:


Advantages over the ‘competition’


There are other options for achieving the same result such as switching to a separate pair of glasses to read or perhaps wearing a bifocal which has a small, visible segment at the bottom of the lens designed just for close-up vision. Varifocals have the advantage over these methods due to the ability to focus at all distances with the gradual change in power. Bifocal lenses cater for only two ranges of vision at any given time (usually distance and reading) and not that mid-range distance associated with computer work, eating, hobbies etc, whilst single vision lenses are limited to just one range (e.g. just distance or reading). Varifocals are also more pleasing cosmetically, looking just like a regular single vision lens thus not ‘ giving away’ the wearers age!


They are not without their disadvantages though; they can take some adapting to in the early weeks. ‘Soft focus’ or ‘distortion’ encountered due to the varifocal design, particularly at the periphery of the lens, can be jarring when first wearing varifocals. Varifocals also have a slightly narrower close-up zone than bifocals, which may be easier to use for longer periods of reading. However, varifocal designs are constantly evolving to minimise the disadvantages mentioned above.


Certainly, for someone who lives in their spectacles, it is rare that just one pair of glasses will be enough. Think about how many different ‘seeing’ tasks we have a day, which is why most people will have a pair of varifocals along with a single vision pair for reading, music or painting/craft making etc. At the end of the day, how many pairs of shoes does an average person have, and they are only worn when outside! Many people rely on their spectacles all day and have far more visual demands upon them.


Our varifocals


We offer three varifocals to suit all budgets; Standard, Premium and Elite. Whilst all offer the same gradual vision-at-all-distances design, they differ in performance. I often use this analogy to explain these differences: “Think of varifocals like cars: you have your BMW’s (Elite) and your Kia’s (Premium), both of which will get you from London to Birmingham, however, the BMW will be more comfortable and offer superior performance”.


The reason behind these differences stems from the designs. The soft focus/distortion affecting the periphery lessens as we move up the range towards Elite. This results in a wider usable area for the wearer, for both the distance and near vision zones. All three varifocals feature ultra-modern rear surface progressive designs - the most up to date technology - ensuring the varifocal element of the lens is situated closer to the customer's eyes, again resulting in a wider field of vision.


Standard £50

Premium £75

Elite £100

Our entry-level varifocal lens with free scratch-resistance offers seamless distance, mid and close vision at an affordable price.

This is an upgrade from the Standard, giving wider areas of clear vision at all distances and less of the soft focus mentioned earlier.

Elite is our most advanced digitally optimised lens design, improving natural vision and giving greater fields of vision at all distances with minimal soft focus.