Grown up spectacles, bifocal or varifocal?...

Chadford

Distinguished Member
I've really hit the point in time that I need to think about getting some proper specs. Since my eyes are aging evenly (both eyes with the same prescription to date) I've got away for years with buying cheap glasses from places like Costco (three pairs for ~£12, that sort of thing). My long sight is fine so I only put glasses on to look at the PC or look at things close up. The advantage of the cheap goggs being that I could buy lots of them for practically nothing and have them everywhere, car, study, jackets etc.
My eyes have got very slightly worse and I'm now in need of two strengths weaker ones for stuff like PC monitors, stronger ones for mobile phones and the like. It's starting to get annoying having to swap over specs frequently e.g. If I'm reading something on my desk in front of my keyboard (stronger goggs) and then requiring to type details into my PC (weaker goggs).
I do get my eyes checked every year.

I have no vanity or other issues at all with wearing glasses all the time or for that matter having a pair plonked on the top of my head when not required (I tend to do this most of the time anyway). Presumably lots of folk here have already gone down this road and maybe can give me some advice on the pros and cons of getting bifocal or varifocal independently of what my opticians would suggest?

Thanks.

:)
 
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snaithg

Well-known Member
I've really hit the point in time that I need to think about getting some proper specs. Since my eyes are aging evenly (both eyes with the same prescription to date) I've got away for years with buying cheap glasses from places like Costco (three pairs for ~£12, that sort of thing). My long sight is fine so I only put glasses on to look at the PC or look at things close up. The advantage of the cheap goggs being that I could buy lots of them for practically nothing and have them everywhere, car, study, jackets etc.
My eyes have got very slightly worse and I'm now in need of two strengths weaker ones for stuff like PC monitors, stronger ones for mobile phones and the like. It's starting to get annoying having to swap over specs frequently e.g. If I'm reading something on my desk in front of my keyboard (stronger goggs) and then requiring to type details into my PC (weaker goggs).
I do get my eyes checked every year.

I have no vanity or other issues at all with wearing glasses all the time or for that matter having a pair plonked on the top of my head when not required (I tend to do this most of the time anyway). Presumably lots of folk here have already gone down this road and maybe can give me some advice on the pros and cons of getting bifocal or varifocal independently of what my opticians would suggest?

Thanks.

:)
I wear varifocal lenses, and have done for many years. To be honest though, I have always struggled with them, it can be quite fidly trying to view things through the correct portion of the lens.

Next time I visit the optician, I am going to try "Executive" style bi-focal lenses as I think that they might suit me better:

Upper portion for long distance
Lower portion for computer work etc
On the top of my head for reading etc.


Graham.
 

FZR400RRSP

Banned
After 37 years of wearing specs for distance only, I've had to go down the route of varifocals.:(
Have yet to collect them and try them, but the eye test itself was quite revealing.
My optician explained to me that a basic decription of the difference between bifocals and varifocals are that bifocals give you a 'line' in the middle of the lens, which is ugly.
But that 'line' in itself is a clear demarcation point between distance and close lenses.
People with bifocals are the people you usually see moving their heads, or moving their glasses, to switch between the two lenses.
Varifocals do away with the ugly 'line' and give more of a 'blending' of the lenses so that the middle of the lens has less distortion and is a more comfortable/natural change between the two lenses.
I hope this makes sense, it did to me.
Like I said though, yet to try them, I may hate them.
I bought three pairs of glasses, my optician is giving me one pair to try before committing to varifocals for the other two as well.
 

FZR400RRSP

Banned
BTW, three pairs of 'designer' specs with varifocals was £501.00
My prescription is horrendous though, so I have to go for the expensive lenses to get thin and light.
They'd be like washing machine doors otherwise.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
I think I may be at a similar stage to you Chadford in that my latest pair of reading glasses while excellent for close work are hopeless for anything at arms length or beyond, such as my computer screen. So I tend to wear my previous prescription for computer work. My distance sight is fine but I do seem to need an intermediate lens now, which they didn't pick up at my last eye test. Let me know what you decide on.
 

captainarchive

Distinguished Member
I've just ordered a pair of varifocals and like FZR my prescription means I've had to have my lenses thinned down as well. I was told there's a area of distortion with VFL and you can choose from 4 different quality of lens, the higher the quality the smaller the area of distortion. I opted for the highest quality and with the lighter thinner lense it comes to £165 and that's not even a designer pair plus I got a £100 voucher from work because of the amount of VDU work I do.
 

FZR400RRSP

Banned
I picked up one pair of my new varifocals yesterday.
They're giving me two weeks to try these out before committing to varifocals on the other two pairs.
I have to say, I'm struggling.
There's a lot more distortion than I expected, even the slightest head movement has the monitor in front of me 'changing shape' like I'm viewing it through a goldfish bowl.
I had a webchat with a Specsavers optician online this morning, they say this is normal and they've asked me to persevere for at least a week.
I better buy some paracetamol.
 

captainarchive

Distinguished Member
I also wear contact lenses and was surprised to learn the other day, you can get varifocal contact lenses. I'm going to enquire about these the next trip to the opticians.
 

stunno

Well-known Member
I picked up one pair of my new varifocals yesterday.
They're giving me two weeks to try these out before committing to varifocals on the other two pairs.
I have to say, I'm struggling.
There's a lot more distortion than I expected, even the slightest head movement has the monitor in front of me 'changing shape' like I'm viewing it through a goldfish bowl.
I had a webchat with a Specsavers optician online this morning, they say this is normal and they've asked me to persevere for at least a week.
I better buy some paracetamol.
Stick with it! I struggled terribly for the first few of days until I got used to moving my head and not my eyes. Even weeks later I could not walk downstairs while wearing them, but now I would never go back to 'normal' specs and changing pairs depending on what I was doing
 

FZR400RRSP

Banned
Tha's me packed in the varifocals, going back to single vision.
I'd rather have to hold a menu/book/kindle a bit further away than put up with them a second longer.
Any slight advantage they offer for reading is more than outweighed by the disadvantages.
I basically had a pin-prick size of vision in the middle where there was no distortion.
Not acceptable, I'm not moving my head around like a puppet just to see.
 
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Saldawop

Distinguished Member
Were the varifocals you had, the basic ones?
As I understand it, the more you pay, you get more of a distortion free area.
 

gus607

Active Member
I bought two pair of varifocals, buy one get one free. They were the worst I ever had, in the trade what you describe is "Bending". Never had this problem anywhere else, in fact I tell the sales staff that I will reject if this happens.

Some decent named opticians will use cheap labs, this is what you get (sometimes).

Would have no other than varifocals.
 

AJBek

Well-known Member
Varifocal tolerance depends very much on the add (reading power) which is basically the difference between the distance and reading portions, and frame depth and fitting.

A low add such as 1.00 means the difference is low and as such the distortion at the periphery is minimal, making them relatively easy to use, but as the add goes up the distortion increases as the power has to change faster for a given corridor length and they become harder to use. If you gradually increase the add over time the patient doesn't notice much difference but if you go straight in with a 2.50 add you will struggle. This means people who keep putting off getting them find it much harder than those who just bite the bullet at age 45 or so.

Also very narrow frames don't have very much space for the power change to happen over, so the rate of change has to be faster creating more distortion. Short corrior lenses are much better than they used to be but still have limitations.

I find generally longsighted people get on better with them than short sighted as the short sighted folk keep taking them off and can read better without any glasses. They can be more difficult to work with when the power is very high as well, because the aspheric curves and hi indexes used to thin down the
lens create their own aberrations which make things harder.

Despite this I reckon you can get around 90% success with varifocals as long as you are sensible with patient selection and don't blanket sell to everyone. I find bifocals are still helpful for those who only wear specs for reading and driving, as there is no distortion, but the cosmetics do let them down. Having said that a round 24 seg bifocal with an MAR coating is almost un noticable. For full time wearers I do recommend varis though, as the intermediate area is useful for PCs etc. For full time PC users I recommend an office lens which is primarily intermediate and near, with much less distortion. You can't drive with them though so need normal varis as well.

As far as varifocal contact lenses go they used to be rubbish and basically meant both distance and near were equally blurred, but I have fitted a few newer designs over the last 3 months or so and have had much better results, so things seem to me moving forward in this area.
 
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Basquelle

Active Member
Pulling up an old thread....

I use contact lenses, plain vision, plus reading glasses (+1.5 contacts, +1.0 readers). This works very well, and as my eyes get worse over time, I can keep increasing the contacts power a step at a time. I tried multi-focal contacts, a disaster. If you're happy with everything slightly blurred, they may be for you, but I doubt anyone who seeks high quality music will be happy with dulled eyesight!

But I'm concerned that all day wear may be a bit much for me, my eyes get dry in the evening, so I'm looking at glasses, and went along to a cheap and cheerful chain optician and got tested. They prescribed varifocals and I got them a couple of days ago.

They're terrible, they seem to have a very narrow tunnel of vision for reading, and the band of distance vision is way too high on the lens to be useful. To read I gave to scan the line with my head, i can't scan with just my eyes. To see the big, bad world, I have to dip my head to peer through the top of the lenses.

I'm beginning to suspect that cheap and cheerfuls may have compromises in lens grinding to make them cheap and, well, cheap. Does anyone know?
 

SevloW

Distinguished Member
That is just not right. When I first had varifocal glasses it did take me a few days to adjust. There is no way you should be experiencing what you have said. Take them back and discuss it with your optician.
 

jenam93

Well-known Member
My latest prescription suggests varifocals are the way to go for me soon. I can't get my head around the tunneling sort of vision people talk about, and I guess having to move the head to read a whole line of a book is one of the things I can't comprehend.

Apparently this is where paying more money for the lenses comes in as the more expensive lenses tend to have a wider field of clarity meaning you can read with your eyes and not your head.

Dipping your head to see the world though, that just sounds like really poor fitting and something your optician should be addressing, even if it costs them new lenses.

I think I will skip varifocals for the time being and have single vision lenses for distance and a fixed length pair for VDU work. (Close up/reading is fine for me)
 

scarty16

Well-known Member
Had normal specs. Needed to go to Vari focals. Didn't work for me due to the limited "in focus" portion of the vision.

Swapped to Contacts and a pair of reading specs for close up work. Yep I am Homer Simpson.
 

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