Varifocal Glasses Vs Bifocal Glasses

16th May 2017

With many people requiring glasses for both short-sightedness (myopia) and for long-sightedness (hypermetropia), there was a requirement for a lens to offer this without the need for two pairs of glasses.

This resulted in bifocal lenses. These worked very well for distance and for reading or close up work but with more and more people using computers, the intermediate distance was not catered for in this lens.

Many people also find that the D segment on a bifocal, with its noticeable line, is very old-fashioned.

So the varifocal or progressive lens was created.

This type of lens caters to all three prescription strengths. Distance, intermediate and close up.

The lack of obvious de-limiters on the lens means that most people will not know that you are wearing them.

However, they also have some shortcomings. The edges of the lenses can be quite blurry and you do need to “train” yourself to look directly at the object to be in focus.

There is a huge variety of lenses on offer and the better quality lenses do reduce this blurring and offer a wider field of vision.

They are not for everyone and do need a while to get used to wearing them.

Here are the pros and cons of each style:

Bifocal Glasses:


  • They offer a very set viewing area
  • The edges of the lenses are not out of focus
  • Only one pair of glasses required for distance and reading


  • Considered to be “old fashioned”
  • May require a second pair for computer / intermediate use
  • Not very fashionable
  • Can be heavy with a strong prescription

Varifocal Glasses:


  • They offer a full range of vision through the focal distances
  • No one knows you are wearing them
  • Only one pair of glasses required for all ranges of vision


  • They can be blurry at the edges
  • They can be very expensive from some suppliers
  • Do need careful fitting

Written by: Russell Andrew, Director, Glasses2you Ltd

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