Ok, I admit it, I do have favourite lenses. It might sound a bit strange to anyone who doesn't work in optics but you'll find that most good opticians have their favourites*.
These are the lenses that I wear myself (that I will happily pay for), so I know I can recommend them to my clients knowing how good they are.
For my top 3 favourites I've taken one from each of our price brackets so it can give you some ideas depending on your budget for lenses.
If you've seen any of our other posts or information about varifocals you'll know that there isn't just a varifocal, there are thousands of the things now and some designs are far better than the others. What I mean by design is "what have they done to the lens (ie. by design) to maximise the clearest parts of the vision and to reduce the blur, distortions and swimy effect at the sides of the lens?".
I will say that all of my top 3 lenses are all excellent designs. They are all different designs and some will suit certain types of prescription more than others.
Lets start with the ARC Steady from Caledonian Optical. Caledonian Optical are up in Aberdeen and the ARC Steady 2.0 (to give it it's full name) is their flagship varifocal. When the ARC 1.0 was released in 2018 it won an industry award for lens product of the year. It uses IOT technology, IOT is a research and development company that spends millions of Euros designing lenses every year. This technology (and lens design) is then licenced out to manufacturers. Caledonian Optical then use their bit of magic to produce a brilliant, very high quality lens which is exceptional value for money. It takes me a few hours to get used to a new pair of ARCs, there is only a little distortion and swim effect to the outer edges of the lenses.
Next is the (now this is a mouthful) Be 4Ty+ S-Fusion Easy from OptiSwiss, and yes, you guessed it, they are made in Switzerland. These lenses are what I would place as our middle tier, the vision in these lenses is worth every penny. OptiSwiss are the real powerhouse of lens designing in Europe. My OptiSwiss lenses are amazing, what is really great about them is their S-Fusion technology helps to minimise distortion from my astigmatism. As mentioned some designs will be better for certain prescriptions. It takes me around 5 minutes to get used to a new OptiSwiss lens. I find hardly any swim effect at all and the clarity of vision is brilliant.
My top lenses have to be my Tokai Easy One varifocals. These are true premium lenses. They are Japanese, and they specialise in reducing distortion in high powered lenses, which means that lower powered Tokai lenses have very little distortion or blur or swim effect. The only thing that lets them down is the name, Easy One, but then again they are so easy to get on with and wear that I suppose the name is actually quite fitting. My personal opinion is that Tokai are making the best varifocals in the world right now. They are producing lenses based on neuroscience - they will read brain waves and electrical impulses to work out how to make the lenses even better. I can put on a new pair of Tokai and it doesn't take any time to adapt - there is no swim effect and the field of vision is exceptional.
So to recap, the ARC Steady is very good, the OptiSwiss Be 4Ty+ S-Fusion Easy is even better and then the Tokai Easy One is better still. I have to say that these improvements are reflected in the prices of each.
I hope that this has helped anyone who is thinking about varifocals to make their mind up - there is some amazing lens design and technology out there. Your optician should be able to recommend you what is best for your needs and if your budget matches some of the more premium designs then believe me, they are worth the extra.
If you want to understand even more about varifocals you can download our buyers guide here.
*My caveat for this - I'm not talking about any optician who has recommended/dispensed the same lenses for the past 20 years because it's their "favourite" and they don't see why they need to change. In my opinion this is laziness, they aren't offering the best solutions to their clients visual needs. Lens technology changes year to year and we as opticians need to keep up with these improvements because they do genuinely give wearers better vision.