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Varilux lenses: How they work, benefits and where to buy

Close-up, middle-distance, and far views as seen by a Varilux lens wearer.

What are Varilux lenses?

Varilux is a brand of progressive eyeglass lenses used to correct vision problems associated with presbyopia. The lenses were first developed in 1959 by optical and mechanical engineer Bernard Maitenaz. Since its debut, Varilux has expanded its research to meet the needs of every presbyope.

The patented technology used in the development of Varilux makes it a favorite among eye doctors. In 2018, a survey taken among independent eye care professionals revealed Varilux as the #1 recommended progressive lens brand. 

How Varilux lenses work

Varilux lenses work by providing clear vision at every distance. They do so by transitioning seamlessly from one prescription strength to the next. This accommodates the way the eye moves and focuses. 

Accomplishing this is no easy feat. It’s common for users to experience distortion with progressive lenses that give them the feeling of looking through a fishbowl. This is caused by the curvature across the lens surface.

Varilux lenses are designed with a patented W.A.V.E technology that identifies and eliminates distortion. This technology analyzes the individual prescription of each lens. It also examines the changes in pupil size as the eye focuses at different distances. 

The result is a custom lens that works for your unique vision prescription and eye behavior, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach.

SEE RELATED: Can you put progressive lenses in sunglasses?

Who can benefit from Varilux lenses?

Varilux lenses will benefit people who are experiencing the effects of age-related vision changes.

Usually starting around age 40, a natural change in vision, called presbyopia, occurs. As you age, different parts of the eye, including the ciliary body and the crystalline lens, become inflexible. This affects the eye’s ability to accommodate or focus on near objects or fine print, especially in low-light conditions.

In some cases, if no other vision correction is needed, reading glasses can help sharpen close-up vision. If a person’s distance vision is also blurry, Varilux progressive lenses are a better choice. This is because reading glasses offer single-vision correction (the near viewing distance only). Varilux includes multiple prescriptions in a single lens.

Varilux progressive lenses vs. bifocals

Before progressive lenses were created, many people relied on bifocals to correct their distance and near vision. The trouble with bifocals is that they only allow you to see far away and up close — any mid-distance or arm’s-length focus is still blurry.

Plus, bifocal lenses are notorious for the distracting line that separates the different focal strengths. This line makes it so that wearers have to tilt their heads forward to see at a distance, and back to see up close.

Varilux progressive lenses not only do away with the harsh lines seen in bifocals, they sharpen distance vision, near vision, and everywhere in between. Plus, the seamless transition of progressive lenses means you can have clear vision at any distance without needing to tilt your head. 

Varilux progressive lenses allow you to drive, read a book and work on your computer all with one pair of glasses.

Types of Varilux lenses

Varilux is available in three different styles to meet your lens preferences. While all options are developed with the same expert-level technology, each type offers its own set of perks.

  • Varilux Comfort Max Offers sharp, comfortable vision at any distance and in low-light conditions. Flex Optim technology expands users’ vision zone by up to 46%, which provides focused vision from many angles. 

  • Varilux Physio W3+ Has all the benefits of Varilux Comfort Max, plus the perks of Synchroneyes technology. This technology allows the eyes to work better together and provide clearer vision from left to right, top to bottom.

  • Varilux X Series Provides the most advanced lens progression available. This means a seamless transition to the different focal strengths and sharp vision at any distance. They are also equipped with Nanoptix technology. This technology eliminates the “off-balance” feeling often associated with progressive lenses. 

Where to find Varilux lenses

Varilux lenses can be installed in many, if not all, frame sizes and shapes. You can also enhance Varilux lenses with special coatings, such as Crizal anti-glare, UV-resistant treatment. 

To get the full scope of your lens treatment options, it’s best to consult with an eye doctor. 

As far as brick-and-mortar retailers who offer Varilux lenses, Pearle Vision is a good option with several locations. There are also many local eye care practices who will install Varilux lenses in whatever frames you select from their inventory. 

You can use this search tool to find eye doctors in your area that install Varilux lenses. The tool also gives you the ability to filter doctors based on your insurance coverage. 

READ MORE: Multifocal contact lenses for presbyopia

Varilux product history timeline. Essilor. August 2017.

Varilux. Varilux. Accessed August 2021

W.A.V.E Technology 2. Varilux. Accessed August 2021.

Presbyopia and aging in the crystalline lens. Journal of Vision. December 2003.

Varilux progressive lenses. Essilor. Accessed August 2021.

Varilux progressive lens technology. Essilor. Accessed August 2021.

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