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Varifocal glasses/lenses - advice needed.

(49 Posts)
alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 11:07:24

Hi all, a few months ago I was told by optician that I would benefit from varifocal glasses as I now need to wear glasses for driving, TV and reading. He advised me to make a decent investment on my first pair to give me good surround vision and to also make it much easier to adjust to the lenses. I had heard a few horror stories from friends about this so I decided to spend a decent amount to ensure I don't the same problems. When I was given a price of £470 just for lenses I nearly fell over backwards. I would then have to add the cost of my frame on top! I quickly decided to walk away and have a think about it.

That same week I met up with some friends who are already wearing varifocals, and they told me that investing in decent lenses was the best thing they ever did. I mentioned that my optician had recommended me to 'Zeiss' varifocals but the price blew me away. Apparently Zeiss are a very good German make of lenses and I remembered that my husband used to bang on about Zeiss lenses for his camera. One of my friends already has Zeiss varifocal lenses in her glasses and she said that they were a vast improvement on the glasses she had previously bought from Specsavers. 

My dilemma now is whether I should bite the bullet and shell out for the glasses or go to somewhere like Specsavers and buy a cheap pair in the hope that I'll get on with them. Most of my friends have got the cash to pay out for these expensive German lenses but I'm on a limited budget. Also, do any opticians just put new lenses into your current frame? I love my frame and it's only a year old. Seems such a waste to have to pay for a new one. When I asked my optician if he offered this sort of service he just frowned and told me that it would be far too risky!??

Bluebell99 Tue 22-Oct-13 11:21:44

Specsavers do different levels of lenses from the ones they call made to measure, elite and down to an entry level type. They can show you what the vision with each level would look like. I went for the top level, made to measure. I have only had mine for about a month and don't wear them all the time, so i am still getting used to them. I had to go back and get them adjusted. Specsavers is great though, as if they don't feel right for you, you can exchange them for single version/ reading glasses within 30 days. i expect even the top level of Specsavers will be cheaper than what you have been quoted.

Bluebell99 Tue 22-Oct-13 11:27:23

This explains the range of lenses on offer. The top of the range lenses may well be comparable quality to the ones your friends are wearing, and the 30 day trial period means you can always exchange them if they are not working for you.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 11:38:33

Thanks for the reply bluebell99. If they offer your money back guarantee then maybe I should go for it. My only worry is the amount of negative feedback on forums about specsavers lenses. I suppose because of my budget I don't have much choice. Unless you know an opticians that sells the Zeiss lenses very cheap!

Tip: Buy your frozen chickens from the supermarket, not your glasses. I learned my lesson the hard way!

I get my varifocals done on the internet these days. Far cheaper doing it this way than any opticians shop. I Usually have new lenses fitted into my own frame which saves my even more money. Lot's of online companies offer this service. I've never had any problems doing this, even though every optician in the world will warn you against it. I think they just get upset when you take your prescription else where. It means that I can now afford really good quality lenses. I have Varilux and they are very, very good.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 11:50:29

How can you buy them online? I thought you needed an optician to measure you with special equipment? Are the prices a lot cheaper and if so by how much?

Thymeout Tue 22-Oct-13 12:02:59

I went for Boot's 30 day trial deal. Chose the most expensive option - but gave up in despair. Felt incredibly unsafe while crossing roads, reversing the car etc. Basically, it felt as if I'd lost some peripheral vision. Seemed counterintuitive to want to take off glasses when doing something glasses were meant to help me do better.

No problem with Boot's. They returned my money. Gave me new distance and reading glasses, lenses and frames, and about £200 refund on the difference in price.

No idea if Zeiss lenses would be significantly better, but you should have a prescription, so don't need to get eyes tested again.

Bluebell99 Tue 22-Oct-13 12:08:41

i wasn't aware of negative feedback about Specsavers lenses on forums but I guess it really depends which lenses you go for. There is a huge difference between the vision from the standard "cheap" lenses and the top of the range ones. The cheaper lenses have a larger area of blur at the edges. In fitting my varifocals, the assistant took measurements at about nine different points of my vision and marked these on the lenses. not sure how they would do that online, and also I've had to go back in store for adjustments.

They are certainly a lot cheaper. I managed to get my last pair for around half the price of what Boots wanted to charge me.

When you buy varifocals from the optician all they do is sit opposite you and place a 'dot' on your glasses using a felt pen, roughly in front of your eyes. I've had this done at almost every opticians I've ever been to. I've never had any specialised equipment being used on me! My grandson works at a local opticians on Saturdays and he was the one who advised me to get them online!

Well, when you buy on the internet you have to do this yourself. I find the best way is to put the glasses on and do the 'dot' thing in front of a mirror. Some companies don't even ask for this but from what I've been told, it's always best to do this so that they can make the glasses correctly.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 12:18:44

Thanks Thymeout. I might give boots a call and find out prices for their Zeiss lenses. I just had if confirmed by an optician on anothef forum that the Zeiss lenses would be the best. Just need to get them for a good price. If Boots offer a guarantee and can sell them cheaper then I might have found an answer to my dilemma!

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 12:19:59

...oops sorry about the typos.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 12:26:06

@bluebell99 - Just googled 'specsavers varifocal problems' and the results are very worrying. Do the same with Boots and there seem to be very few problems.

Used them twice before and was very impressed. Got my current varilux lenses from them. They do Zeiss lenses, very cheap and they also do the lens only replacement service you asked about.

Probably a bit unfair to compare 'Googling' about problems between Boots and Specsavers as more people probably buy from Specsavers than Boots. Also, most people only report the bad stuff, never the good

ChuffMuffin Tue 22-Oct-13 12:44:16

OP please get your first pair of varifocals from an opticians, not online. You'll need to be measured for the lenses (not something you can do accurately yourself) and you'll need to be taught how to use them by the optician. Plus if you don't get on with them after a period of time (most people do but not everybody does), some opticians will do you a distance/reading pair for free, I doubt an online shop will.

Did you go to Vision Express for the £470 Zeiss varifocals? Vision Express are incredibly expensive. Have a look around with your prescription, your local Opticians, places like Tesco, Specsavers etc. Make sure to find out what their policy is if you don't get on with the varifocals too, ie will they do you a reading and distance pair and if so will they charge?


alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 12:52:30

@mavisfromcorrie - I see what you mean about the comparison. You're right, it's probably a bit unfair.

Thanks for the link though. Just got off the phone to eyewearglasses. Looks very promising and their prices are very cheap. Much closer to what my budget will allow. They also give the same warranty. They said they can put the lenses into my current frame while I wear my old ones. Still a bit nervous doing it online though.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 13:04:41

@ChuffMuffin - I did shop around for Zeiss lenses but even Specsavers wanted an arm and a leg for the lenses my optician recommended.

When I rung Tesco the man on the other end of the telephone said that he'd never even heard of Zeiss lenses! Very worrying.

I've called two online companies who both give the warranty guarantee that the opticians give. Although I'm slightly nervous about doing this with an online company there seem to be many good reviews from people who have done it this way before. Also if it means saving around £250 then it could be worth doing. Especially if they offer the same warranty.

familyoffour12 Tue 22-Oct-13 13:51:01

Have you tried these people?

PoshPenny Tue 22-Oct-13 14:09:58

I bought my first pair of varifocals last month and they cost similar to what you're looking at spending. I don't think I had Zeiss lenses, my main concern is to get the thinnest lenses possible and that is what drives my decisions. also in glass as they don't scratch so easily and therefore last me longer. I use an independent opticians and have been going there for about 25 years. maybe ask what alternatives they have to Zeiss and would they recommend them? I have found the varifocals to be very good, I think they worked out at an extra £150 over standard lenses, but I am pleased with the result.

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 14:12:40

@familyoffour12 - Thanks, I've already spoken to them today as they were recommended by someone else. I'm sending my frame to them so they can fit Zeiss lenses. Thanks for all the advice everyone x

EeTraceyluv Tue 22-Oct-13 14:18:25

I got two pairs of varifocals from specsavers for £229. Still thought that was stupidly expensive but I actually find them brilliant. Off to google problems now sad

RafflesWay Tue 22-Oct-13 14:36:28

You can have a new eye test with any optician and they are legally obliged to provide you with a written prescription. Should cost around £10 - £15. Then have a look at Selectspecs -
I did this having never had Varifocals before. Got a super designer pair for £126 including frame but you can opt for more expensive ones if you prefer. Can highly recommend from personal experience. Not sure if they do Zeiss lenses but do you really need these anyway so long as the prescription is correct?

alisonardwick Tue 22-Oct-13 15:21:32

Too many negative threads on consumer forums about selectspecs. I've spoken to a few online companies today and only 2 really stood out. I've already agreed to send one of them my frame so that they can put Zeiss lenses in them. But thanks anyway x

Bluebell99 Tue 22-Oct-13 16:39:25

Come back and tell us how you get on with them smile How much are the ones you are going for?

Bunbaker Wed 23-Oct-13 00:02:27

"How can you buy them online? I thought you needed an optician to measure you with special equipment? Are the prices a lot cheaper and if so by how much?"

Stay away from online varifocals. They have to be fitted by a qualified optician so they can be lined up exactly.

mayhew Wed 23-Oct-13 13:07:58

Another vote for Specsavers. I found their service and products just as good as those costing twice as much. My current ones are from Glasses Direct just because I liked the frames. Specsavers were happy to give me all the measurements for me to have them made.

ChuffMuffin Thu 24-Oct-13 07:58:22

mayhew For varifocals? I worked for Specsavers and we would never give out PD or any other measurements to a patient, simply because we don't have to and we wanted you to buy our glasses from us.

GobbySadcaseFucker Thu 24-Oct-13 08:02:27

Mine are the second most expensive spec savers ones and I get on with them fine grin

gobbin Mon 28-Oct-13 22:37:28

My Tesco optician varifocals (top range personal made-for-you) were far superior to my current Specsavers top of the range ones. I've even considered getting these frames reglazed at Tescos.

SolidGold Tue 29-Oct-13 11:31:02

I'm on my second pair of varifocal from Boots (was D&A) and have had no problems at all with them. I have the middle price range of varifocal lenses.

I have varifocal contact lenses - they are monthly disposables and I think they cost me £27 a month - I find them really good, is it worth having a trial of those as it wouldn't cost you anything to see how you get on?

SolidGold Tue 29-Oct-13 16:07:10

I have had varifocal contact lenses in the past too. They were fine for a while, but now I can't read with them, so have changed to glasses. I tried them again a few months ago, but just couldn't read with them.

I only read books before bed and I take mine out at night. most of the day I work from a screen and find them perfect for that. I struggle with really small writing on packets though, that's when I generally would have taken my glasses off to get a closer look.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 29-Oct-13 16:49:51

Also boots and specsavers are currently doing 2for1 offer ATM.

Rather than taking the free second pair I always negotiate a discount on one pair. I don't have verifocals but have very expensive thinned lenses so I feel your pain. I negotiated down from £300 to £220 last weekend.

SolidGold Tue 29-Oct-13 16:50:03

I read a lot at work and found it really difficult.

Oblomov Tue 29-Oct-13 17:08:50

Just be very careful. Many people can't get on with varifocals. Buy them and just hate them. You need advice. Try a pair first, atleast.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 29-Oct-13 17:16:02

What happens if you can't get on with them?

It worries me as my eyesight is really bad. -8 in both eyes.

I don't think I could have a reading pair and a distance pair. What would I do at work when one minute I'm reading notes and the next minute I'm answering an emergency buzzer and need to run down the ward. I can't swap glasses every two mins?

VivaLeBeaver Tue 29-Oct-13 17:16:38

I don't think I'd be able to see across the room in reading glasses.

What happens if you can't get on with them?

That's why I suggested the contacts as they are happy to give you a free pair to try - I had headaches for a few days as my eyes adjusted, but I find them great now. I have no idea how they seems to be magic.

There is a bit of compromise between distance and close - i.e. far distance could be better and close could be better, but the average use far outweighs that in that I can see 90% of stuff perfectly well.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 29-Oct-13 18:26:59

I can't wear contacts. <sigh>

I've tried for years.

Pussypaws Wed 30-Oct-13 14:57:05

Hi. I have, in the last 2 weeks, bought a new pair of Varifocals. I have been wearing them since 1999.

Re your question on lenses and the price, I would say buy the most expensive you can afford. I have always had ESSILOR VARILUX lenses and find them absolutely brilliant. I believe they are slightly cheaper than Zeiss, but if for any reason I couldn't get Varilux I would opt for Zeiss.

The expression...."you only get what you pay for" true in this case. My story goes like this: I decided to try Boots for a change (normally go to Vision Xpress...NEVER Specsavers!). I bought Boots Platinium range thinking they would be good, they also assured me they were Essilor Varilux. On first wearing them everything was slightly out of focus and swishing around, but my old specs were still perfect. On taking them back and questioning this I was told that they were Varilux BUT to Boots specification, and thus cheaper. As they were useless to me, Boots agreed to fit the proper Varilux Physio lenses that I thought I was getting in the first place and everything now is fine.

Basically to sum Varifocals up......the more money you spend the thinner/lighter the lens is, so therefore more comfortable to wear....but more importantly the actual field of vision is a lot wider in the more expensive lenses. Having wider/clearer vision virtually cuts out all the blurry areas that you get with cheaper ones. I can look almost anywhere and don't get any blurred or swishy vision. So the moral your Zeiss or Varilux, even Rodenstock. All good lenses, not like the cheap Pentax ones at Specsavers, or Boots for that matter. (Incidentally, I read somewhere that Specsavers own Pentax lenses). Buy a good branded name, your sight is one of the most important things!

SolidGold Wed 30-Oct-13 15:56:05

I'm sure the expensive ones are good, but I've had two pairs of D&A/Boots mid range varifocals and have had no problems, no blurry areas, nothing like that. I didn't need a long time to get used to them, got straight in the car and drove home.

The most important thing I think is make sure when they take the measurements that you position the glasses in the right place on your nose, as otherwise they won't be right if, say, when you get them you push them further up your nose.

Pussypaws Sat 02-Nov-13 12:11:27

SolidGold....I am sure the D&A/Boots mid range varifocals are fine.

I think the reason I encountered problems with Boots Platinum lenses is because I had been used to a better lens initially. Had the Boots ones been my very first pair of Varifocals I would probably have been happy.....but being used to the very wide field of vision offered by Varilux just made the Boots ones seen inferior. I hope that makes sense....

sashh Sat 02-Nov-13 15:40:06

Have you considered contact lenses? They now come in bifocal and multifocal.

I'm currently experimenting with a toric on one eye for perfect distance vision in that eye and multifocal in the other so I have good (legal for driving but not perfect) distance vision and an addition for reading.

They can be worn for 29days and nights continuously. Each lens is about £20 for 3 so £40 for 3 months.

ouryve Sat 02-Nov-13 15:53:09

I have the top range Specsavers Varifocals and took to them straight away. I even had a problem with my weaker eye, which is already quite lazy, as my reading prescription changed significantly in it about 3-4 months after buying my VFs and they retested my eyes and replaced the lens with one with a stronger reading prescription, for free. I opted for the second pair to be sunglasses, since my eyes are quite sensitive to bright light and the weather has to be pretty dingy for me not to need them when in the car.

Bunbaker Sat 02-Nov-13 15:56:52

"What happens if you can't get on with them?"

Boots let you try them for up to a month. If you don't get on with them you can change them for something more suitable.

digerd Sat 02-Nov-13 18:19:03

Depending on your prescription your lenses will have to be much thicker or thinner.
Mine meant really thick lenses so had to be thinned down by the maximum. If your prescription hasn't changed much then the lenses should fit your frame without being thinned down too much to fit.
The thinner they have to make them to look good the more expensive they are and the heavyness of the thicker lenses is not nice either.

alisonardwick Tue 05-Nov-13 10:45:35

Update: Got my frame back today from the online company with the new Zeiss lenses fitted into them, and what a difference these lenses make! I can now sit at my desk and use my computer, whilst reading from patient referral letters (I have an admin job), without having to wear my reading spectacles half way down my nose! LOL

The vision through these are perfect, much better than I ever expected. I've been wearing them for just over 2 and half hours and I'm not getting the 'swimming distortions' that many people speak of. I'm sure now that I've done the right thing by buying these Zeiss lenses. Definitely money well spent. Also I got them at half the price I was going to get charged at the opticians. I was warned by a couple of people not to do this online but I know don't see what all the fuss was about. Taking the measurement myself was so easy and the service and advice I got from the website company I used was extremely impressive.

Although I have nothing to compare these varifocals to, I am already over the moon with how they work. I'll probably leave it a day before I try them whilst driving but I'm pretty confident I'm not going to have any problems. They did feel a little strange when I first put them on but I suppose that's because I've never worn varifocals before. I still can't believe I've saved so much money doing this on the internet. Just goes to show how much profit these high street opticians like Specsavers, Boots and others must be making!

Indecently, the company I got to do this for me, gave me a coupon code to get 10% off my next purchasewith them. Don't know if this will work for new customers but here it is: RT100

I'm now going to practice going up and down the stairs in them as I've heard that this can feel a little odd when you first do it wearing them. The neighbours will probably think I've lost the plot!!

Brighteyes27 Sat 01-Feb-14 18:29:34

Hi just wondering how you are getting on with your varifocals? The cost of these at the opticians is ridiculous. I've seen a frame I like in 'vision express' and the frame is almost half the price online. No mention of Zeiss lenses etc but one place does free thinning to 1.6 included in the price. I was thinking about phoning or messaging a couple of suppliers next week. I currently have varifocals (I think I went for the second most expensive lenses Boots had awhile ago). They are ok most of the time but I hate being in a crowded play ground or trying to reverse. I mainly wear contacts and have really gone off my existing frames. I'm unsure whether to opt for two pairs of glasses (distance) and reading or just one good pair of varifocals from an online retailer?

50ShadesofGreyMatter Fri 18-Apr-14 10:14:27

I'd also be interested in how you got on?

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