Varifocal Spectacles, Two pairs of glasses for the price of one

Just what are varifocal spectacles?

Varifocal spectacles or glasses have lenses that have a gradual change in strength. Unlike Bi-Focals, where the lens has two distinct halves the varifocal lens gradually changes. When such glasses are properly prescribed, they will correct problems with long distance, near sighted and arms length viewing, without the need for separate pairs of glasses.

Gone are the days when you would have put on your reading glasses to read, and then would need to swap to your distance glasses when you were going out. A pair of varifocal glasses will fulfil all of these functions for you.

What granny used to wear
What granny used to wear
Stylish fifties glasses
Stylish fifties glasses
Sixties styles look frumpy now
Sixties styles look frumpy now
Varifocal are now available on line but the measurements must be accurate
Varifocal are now available on line but the measurements must be accurate
There are some great modern styles available as varifocals.
There are some great modern styles available as varifocals.

What are the benefits of wearing varifocal spectacles as opposed to spectacles with ordinary lenses?.

There are many benefits to wearing varifocal spectacles if, for example, your vision is poor in both close viewing and in the distance. The benefits can be:-

  • Convenience
  • Cost
  • Ease of use.

The initial cost of a pair of varifocal glasses will be more than single lens spectacles. However on the whole they represent great value as you will not have to buy two distinct pairs of glasses.

They are much more convenient to use than two such pairs of glasses. The alternative often means having an alternate pair of glasses hanging around your neck, for use with the computer, for example. Instead, if you are wearing a pair of varifocal spectacles all you will need to do is move your head a little. The alternative can also mean remembering to take both pair of specs with you when, for example, you go out, go to work or go on holiday.


If your eyesight test has shown that you need both reading spectacles and distance ones then varifocals may work for you. However not everyone finds them easy to use.

You optician will ensure that you have your field of vision tested first. This will show if varifocals would not work for you at all.

Many opticians in the UK, such as Dollond and Aitchison, offer a 28 day money back guarantee. This means that if you buy a pair of varifocal glasses, and cannot get used to them at all, you can take them back. In return you will be able to purchase a pair of readers and distance glasses instead.


The lenses graduate down from the top. The top part of the lens is used to look into the distance. The bottom part is used for close work. This is why it is important that you are measured properly for such glasses. You can buy on-line but make sure that it is a reputable dealer who carries out your instructions to the letter. A reputable High Street optician service may be best for your very first pair of varifocals.

You need to get used to angling and moving your head a little more. When you are going to cross a road turn your head right and left rather than just looking to the right or left. If you just look toward the edge of your glasses you may find that the view is a little blurred.

When you use a computer it is important that the chair is at the right height for you and the screen is angled for optimum use. You must avoid having to tilt your head up so that you can view through the bottom of your varifocals, as this can give you neck problems.

To bring a book into your field of vision it is best to bring it close under your glasses rather than up in front of you.


I was lucky on the whole as I soon adapted to wearing varifocals. Having alternated between two pairs of single lens glasses for a year or so varifocals were great in comparison. They did seem a little strange at first. This was mainly when I wanted to look to the right or left. Now I have worn varifocals for a good few years this is no problem.

Each time I am prescribed a new pair the lenses are a little stronger and so for a couple of days the floor may look a little sloping, for example, but this soon passes.

Varifocals though are not for the feint hearted.

When Hubby finally needed both readers and distance glasses he opted for varifocals. I knew he would not get on with them but, as I had no problems, he thought they sounded a good ides. Within two days they were returned to the optician's and two single lens pairs of glasses bought.

The first day he wore his varifocals off we went to the town. I had crossed the road and suddenly realised he was not with me. Looking around there he was marooned on the grassy verge of the dual carriageway looking lost. He then proceeded to attempt to cross over to me looking every inch like a spaceman on Mars. Of course I could not help but fall about laughing which I guess did not help.

Before you purchase varifocals think about your personal needs and conditions. If you suffer from regular migraines, severe headaches or dizzy spells varifocals will probably not be for you.

In general though I cannot recommend varifocal glasses enough.

Having experienced, even briefly, having a second pair glasses swinging around my neck, hung on a cord, whilst I chopped and changed which specs I was wearing, I find varifocals a marvel.


Varifocals come in all shapes and sizes these days. Your frames will need to have sufficient space though to accommodate your lens properly. If the size is too small it is hard for the optician to make a lens that has the correct graduation.

However most modern frames are able to accommodate varifocal lenses. My current pair has varifocal reactolite or transition lenses with an anti glare. This means that they also go gradually darker if I am in bright conditions, such as sunny weather. The anti glare improves the glasses performance when I am using the computer.

Varifocal sunglasses are also available. Often opticians will have an offer which includes half price varifocal sunglasses when you purchase a standard pair of varifocals. Check out what is available locally for you. I find these great. With deteriorating eyesight I had found that I could not read outside, if say I was sunbathing, and wearing ordinary sun glasses. My varifocals sunglasses did the trick.

I also understand that varifocal contact lenses are now available but I am not sure how these work.

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Comments 12 comments

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Having to wear different specs will be a pain for your Dad. Varifocals could be a great option

soni2006 profile image

soni2006 6 years ago from New Delhi, India

Though I wear glasses, I am not required to wear varifocals as I wear them just for their anti-radiation coating layer but varifocals will be really helpful for my father who has problems with both near vision and far vision due to old age. Thanks a lot Ethel for sharing such a useful information.

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Hubby gets those cheap glasses sometimes but as my eyes are so odd I never can get a suitable pair.

loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 7 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

i have worn these in the not so far past but sat them down while i was at a pub and i guess that someone felt as if they needed them more than me or maybe it was just the frames they i swap between two different pair for reading and distance (which i hate).fortunately i bought them at a dollar store because my budget will not allow me to get what i need at the moment.

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

They are just so much simpler than 2 pairs of specs, once you are used to them of course, Peggy.

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

They are just so much simpler than 2 pairs of specs, once you are used to them of course, Peggy.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

That's the type I wear. The very first pair I did not adjust to and returned them. ( I knew that walking on Mars feeling! Ha! ) The next year I was asked to try them again as they had improved. Knowing that I could return them if I did not adjust...I tried them again and adjusted beautifully.

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks glasses men. I wanted to create a hub from a wearer's perspective. Hope it worked

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Af RedElf, it comes to us all I guess lol

RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

Hey, ethel! Another great hub. Full of info and, as always, so nicely laid out...and there is NO escape, lol ;)

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Yes and let's hope that you can escape the need for them lol

Melody Lagrimas profile image

Melody Lagrimas 7 years ago from Philippines

This is great info. So these glasses are called 'varifocals'. I learned something today, thanks.

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