What Are Varifocal Lenses?

Presbyopia Consultation

Is it getting tougher to see up close? Are you over the age of 40? You could have presbyopia, the natural aging process that makes seeing up close a challenge for everyone starting in their 40s. If you also need glasses or contact lenses to correct certain refractive errors, then varifocal lenses might be a great option for you.

Varifocal lenses (also called progressive or multifocal lenses) are a specialty lens that corrects both near and distance vision. This means that if you have presbyopia and another refractive error like nearsightedness (also known as myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism, these lenses can help you see at different distances for tasks like driving and reading. They can also help you reduce your number of vision correction products by eliminating your need for reading glasses or other pairs of glasses. Instead, all you need to do is wear a single pair of varifocals.

Other types of multifocal lenses that correct for presbyopia include bifocals and trifocals. There are some differences between varifocal glasses, contact lenses, bifocals, and trifocals. The expert North Carolina eye doctors of eyecarecenter are here to help you figure out which pair of lenses works best for you!

Woman experiencing joy of sight after LASIK eye surgery during hike holding hands happy smiling

Visit Optometrists at eyecarecenter

Whether you need help buying varifocals or just need your annual eye exam, the experienced eye doctors at eyecarecenter are here to help. We can help you explore different types of lenses offering various vision correction solutions to find the perfect treatment for your eyes.

Schedule an appointment at your nearest North Carolina eyecarecenter to find out whether varifocal lenses are right for you.

How Varifocal Lenses Work

Varifocal progressive lenses use a simplistic design since they're single-vision lenses. They work by providing gentle, gradual changes of visual distance in different parts of the lens material: Distance vision at the top, intermediate vision in the center, and near vision at the bottom of the lens. You can see at varying distances depending on where you look in the lens. The seamless transition between vision distances makes for a higher-quality vision correction experience. This design, however, has some drawbacks, as it can take time for your brain to adapt. Because no visual lines in the lenses help guide your eyes to the magnification you need, you must train yourself to know where to look. For instance, you'll need to look down at the right spot for reading, straight ahead for distance, and between those two areas for intermediate distance or computer work. During this eye- and brain-training process, you may experience symptoms including eye strain, headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

Getting Used to Wearing Varifocals

Getting used to varifocal glasses can take some time. To help you get situated, your neighborhood eye doctors at eyecarecenter have some advice. First, don't move your eyes to see at all distances. Instead, rely on your head movements and point your nose where you need to look. Second, don’t be discouraged. Give yourself time to adapt. It might take days or even a few weeks for you to get used to the varifocal lens change. Lastly, don't give up — keep wearing them (though you can take them off briefly to give yourself a break). If you're struggling contact your eyecarecenter eye doctor for further advice.

Varifocal Lenses vs. Bifocal and Trifocal Lenses

In contrast to varifocals, which have magnification changes gradually throughout the lenses, bifocals and trifocals have two and three visual magnification areas respectively. These magnification areas are divided by strict "transition lines." These changes can cause something called an "image jump," where what you're looking at can quickly alter in clarity and apparent position as you look across the prescription lines in the lenses. Bifocals correct for both close-up and far vision, with one line (which is sometimes visible, sometimes not) dividing the lens. To see close up, you look into the bottom of the lens. To see into the distance, you look out the top area of the lens. Trifocals have three visual magnification areas: close-up, mid-range, and far vision. You look into the bottom, middle and top parts of the lenses, respectively, for those different visual areas.

Another difference between the lens types is cost: Varifocal lenses are usually more expensive than bifocal and trifocal lenses due to their unique single-lens design. Depending on your individual needs, your eye doctor can help you decide which type of lens works best for you. With the many advantages that varifocals offer, they might be the right option.

Visit a North Carolina Eye Doctor at eyecarecenter

Trying to decide if varifocal lenses are the right choice for you? Schedule an appointment at any of our eye care locations across the state of North Carolina. Together we can assess your eyes and come up with a solution that’s right for you. Clearer vision is just a call or click away!

Rocky Mount Sunset
Rocky Mount Sunset
High Point
Cary Barnes & Noble Plaza
Winston-Salem Downtown
Raleigh Downtown
North Wilkesboro
Elizabeth City
Charlotte - University City
Raleigh Crabtree
Charlotte - Carmel Rd
Winston-Salem Peters Creek
Charlotte South Boulevard
OBX Optix
Cary Crossroads Blvd.
New Bern
Jacksonville North
Jacksonville West
Winston-Salem Stratford
Winston-Salem Burke Mill
Owen Drive
Ramsey Street
Cross Creek Mall
Durham Consultant Place
Indian Trail
Rocky Mount Tiffany
Roanoke Rapids