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Buying Varifocal Glasses

Varifocal lenses (also known as progressive lenses), are designed for those people who require both distance and near (reading) vision correction and who prefer not to have separate distance and reading glasses. Varifocal lenses are commonly used to correct for presbyopia – an age related condition where it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on near objects. The upper part of a varifocal lens is set for distance vision and the lower part for intermediate and near vision.

It is important that the reading part of a varifocal lens is set at the correct height. This fitting height is dependent not only on the facial dimensions of the wearer but also on the shape and size of the chosen glasses frame. For this reason, it is essential that new varifocal wearers meet face-to-face with their glasses supplier when ordering varifocal glasses. A face-to-face consultation is not necessary for existing varifocal wearers who require like-for-like varifocal lens replacement, as the fitting height measurement can be read from the existing lenses.

Not all varifocal lenses are suitable for all glasses frames. Every varifocal lens has a defined minimum fitting height and if this happens to be greater than the fitting height as measured during the consultation, the lens is unlikely to be suitable. Narrow frames often require short corridor varifocal lenses which have minimum fitting heights of 14mm or less. The gradient between distance and near vision for short corridor lenses is steeper than for standard lenses and hence may require longer times to adjust. 

Varifocal lenses vary in quality (and price!) depending on the field of view offered. All progressive lenses exhibit peripheral distortion away from the optical centres (the “sweet spots”) of the lenses. The higher quality lenses, such as the Varilux X Design, have wider fields of vision. This allows a wearer to move their eyes from side to side, for example when reading, without experiencing distortion whereas a lens with a narrower field of vision may require the wearer to move their head from side to side.

The table below provides a comparison of some of the most popular varifocal lenses. The price is per pair of lenses:



Varilux Liberty 3.0

Varilux Comfort Max

Varilux Physio 3.0

Varilux X Series

1.5 standard thickness





1.59/1.6 thinner





1.67 extra thin





1.74 ultra thin





1.5 Transitions GEN8 (photochromic)




£342(1) & (2)

1.59/1.6 thin Transitions GEN8 (photochromic)




£369(1) & (2)

1.67 extra thin Transitions GEN8 (photochromic)




£384(1) & (2)

1.74 ultra thin Transitions GEN8 (photochromic)






Entry Level Varilux.
Anti-reflection coating option
Optional 2 year no-scratch guarantee

Wide field of vision
Easy to adjust to
Anti-reflection coating option
Optional 2 year no-scratch guarantee

Wider field of vision
Superior sharpness
 Anti-reflection coating option
Optional 2 year no-scratch guarantee

Widest field of vision

Clearest Vision
2 year no-scratch guarantee as standard 

(1)Top of range Crizal Sapphire HR anti-reflection, scratch-resistant coating with 2 year no-scratch guarantee
(2)Varilux Comfort and Varilux X-Design Transitions Xtractive available in 1.5, 1.6, and 1.67 at the same prices as Transitons GEN8
(3)Crizal Easy Pro anti-reflection, scratch-resistant coating.

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