What Are Varifocal Lenses?

Presbyopia Consultation

If you are over the age of 40 and it is getting more difficult to see things close up, then you could have presbyopia.  Presbyopia is the natural aging process that typically starts when people are in their 40s; it makes seeing up close a challenge. If this is you, or if you need glasses or contact lenses to correct certain refractive errors, then The EyeDoctors Optometrists Kansas team is here to say that varifocal lenses might be a great option for you. Varifocal lenses, also called progressive or multifocal lenses, correct both near and distance vision. This means that if you have presbyopia, nearsightedness (also known as myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), or astigmatism, these lenses can help you see at different distances. They’re especially helpful for tasks like driving and reading.

Varifocal glasses can also help you reduce your number of glasses to just one pair. No need to carry around different types of reading glasses and other glasses anymore. Bifocals and trifocals are also multifocal lenses that correct presbyopia, with some differences. Those are discussed below.

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Visit the Experts at The EyeDoctors Optometrists

The eye care team at The EyeDoctors Optometrists is here to discuss your eye care concerns and get you the treatment you need. Schedule a consultation at any of The EyeDoctors Optometrists locations in Kansas for help with presbyopia and varifocal lenses.

How Varifocal Lenses Work

Varifocal progressive lenses use a simplistic design because they function through a single lens. They work by providing gentle, gradual changes of visual distance throughout 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 through the lens.

With all of the good that comes from varifocal lenses, the design does have some drawbacks. It can take a long time for your brain to adapt to how the lenses work. Because there aren’t any visible lines in the lenses to help guide your eyes to the magnification you need, you must train yourself to know where to look. For example, 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.

Tips for Adapting to a Varifocal Lens

These are some ways to help you adapt to using varifocal lenses:

  • Don't move your eyes to see at different distances. Instead, move your head and point your nose where you need to look.

  • Give yourself enough time to adapt. It might take days or even a few weeks for you to adjust to varifocal lenses.

  • Don't give up — keep wearing your lenses (though you can take them off briefly to give yourself a break). If you're struggling after a long time, contact your eye doctor for further advice.

Varifocal 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. Those different magnification areas are divided by visible "transition lines." These different areas can cause something called an "image jump.” This is when something you’re looking at changes in clarity and apparent position as you look across the prescription lines in the lenses.

  • Bifocals: These lenses offer help for both close-up and far vision, with one line dividing the lens. This dividing line is sometimes visible and sometimes invisible. To see things more clearly close up, you look into the bottom of the lens. To see into the distance, you look through the top area of the lens.

  • Trifocals: As you might expect from the "tri" part of the word, trifocals have three visual magnification areas: close-up, mid-range, and far vision. You look through the bottom for close-up, the middle for mid-range, and the top edge of the lens for long distance.

Another difference between the lens types can be the cost. Varifocal lenses can be more expensive than bifocal and trifocal lenses due to their unique single-lens design.

Schedule an Appointment with The EyeDoctors Optometrists

The EyeDoctors Optometrists has the team for you. Depending on your needs, your eye doctor can help you decide which lens type works best for you. With the many advantages that varifocals offer, they might be the right option. Discuss these choices, and what you're looking for in a pair of glasses to treat your presbyopia, with your doctor today. If you’re in the market for buying varifocals, book an appointment with one of our expert Kansas optometrists today.

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