View Full Version : Getting used to varifocal glasses

22nd Sep 2005, 17:48
Has anyone had this problem?

I have used 3/4 frame reading glasses for six months and found it irritating and inconvenient constantly taking them off and on all day long. So, I tried wearing on a chord round my neck. However, my young baby son kept grabbing the chord and bent the frame.

So, my optician talked me into varifocals. I am on day one and find them really disconcerting. Part of the lenses - the lower outer corners - are actually out of focus at any distance. It's like walking round with fuzzy blinkers. Most odd. My PC screen looks like a goldfish bowl

However, I'm told that the these type of glasses have a 90% success rate.

Do you actually settle in to having a fuzzy blind spot in the lenses? I feel like chucking them in the bin before I bump into something or trip up.

Are half frame reading glasses the answer?

Comments please.

22nd Sep 2005, 21:29
I've had varifocals now for 10 years and I think they're absolutely fantastic!

I'm short-sighted and when I got to the age where my eyes would no longer focus through my glasses properly at shorter (reading) range, I tried them out. The optician told me to be careful especially at first walking down stairs, kerbs etc but I found I got used to them within seconds of leaving the shop.

10 years on and I'm on my 3rd set of lenses. I have one pair that are transparent for normal wear and another optically identical but with photochromic properties which I use as sunglasses. The optical centres are in the same place, too, so I can swop from one pair to the other with no problems, such as when driving.

Wearing them for flying is great. I can go from map/GPS to instruments to outside simply by moving my eyes upwards, all in focus with no adjusting time. Scan seems good, too, but I've always been taught to use my whole head for this and to look properly at all parts of the sky, not just swivel my eyeballs around. In a glider, I've had the instructor insist that I turn my head right around and practically stare at him to make sure I'm really LOOKING, not just glancing around the sky.

I do appreciate that not everyone gets on with them. I do find it easier now for reading in bed to take my specs off altogether but I can read the newspaper in quite low light levels that other people can't manage.

The downside is that the latest lenses I bought weren't cheap, at 750 for the 2 pairs, fitted to my existing frames. I'd also recommend that you go to an independent optician. I've been to the chains but I experienced better advice from the place I go to now.

I sometimes fly with someone who uses half-moon specs and he has no end of trouble constantly bobbing his head up & down to see over/under the frame.

Good luck & persevere. you might find you need a different prescription before you get it quite right.

The Odd One

22nd Sep 2005, 22:58
I would second those comments. I am also on my 3rd pair of varifocals, and it took me a couple of days initially to get used to them.
Two things I have learnt through experience:

Buy good quality lenses. The ones usually offered by UK chains are cheap and nasty, and if you look at the optical profile there is a lot of unusable area around the edge of the lens.

Spend some time with the optician working out where you want the transition point, that is the point at which it moves the focus from near to far. I found when I was lecturing , using an autocue etc that I needed a much higher transition point than normal, ie more of the lens was dedicated to the close up focus point.

23rd Sep 2005, 07:42
I tried varifocals, but for helicopter flying they were a disaster! You really need to judge distance accurately for things like confined area approaches, and I found I couldn't. Maybe I could have got used to them; I do know rotary pilots who wear varifocals. But for me, bifocals were the answer. I needed to experiment a bit to find the right position and size for the close-up bit, but now they work just fine. :ok:

23rd Sep 2005, 08:14
Yeah, they do work in the end but it can take some time. I had mine on for about a month before I adapted fully.

The length of time required to adapt will depend on the power of the lenses and the difference between the reading and distance sections of the lens. Your brain needs time to learn how to interpret these new, and slightly distorted, images.

Persevere - it is worth it.

23rd Sep 2005, 10:11
Many thanks for your comments gents (and ladies?).

One of the better aspects of Pprune - post a question and you get answers!

I take the point about perservering. This is the second set of lenses. The first were out of focus for distance. Part of these lenses are out of focus at any distance. So, I took them back to the opticians today for a another go.

As explained to me, varifocals require you to use the middle part of the lens. Hence the lower outer corners are permanently out of focus. However, I have been taught to scan with my eyes. Moving your head around a lot on instruments doesn't seem like a terribly good idea - better to keep the semi circular canals in one position whilst on the go around at two hindred feet.

Also, varifocals effectively remove peripheral vision. I.e. I cannot glance left or right and see something in focus. I tried half frames and was instantly more relaxed.

Quite clear on that if nothing else.


27th Sep 2005, 16:43
On my first pair of varifocals I had the same problem, like tunnel vision.

They were standard Varilux glass.

I then had my sunglasses fitted with Seiko varifocal glass, MAJOR improvement, no more tunnelvision. About three months ago I changed my glasses on my normal spectacles to Seiko too and I am now much happier.

Having the same strength prescription glasses from two different suppliers makes a world of difference.

Don't use household window cleaning spray bottles containing ammonia to clean your glasses or your plexiglass windshield. Don't ask me how I know.

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