Updated on  February 21, 2024
5 min read

Varilux Progressive Lenses – Pros, Cons & Costs

8 sources cited
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Key Takeaways

  • Varilux® progressive lenses are special eyeglass lenses for correcting presbyopia (age-related farsightedness). 
  • Varilux lenses come in 3 sub-brands: Varilux X, Varilux Comfort Max, and Varilux W3+.
  • They enable a seamless transition from one prescription strength to another, enabling clear vision at any distance.
  • Varilux lenses eliminate the distracting middle line and visual distortions associated with bifocals.
  • Although Varilux costs more than other brands, your vision insurance may cover some costs.

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What are Varilux® Progressive Lenses?

Varilux® progressive lenses are special eyeglass lenses for correcting presbyopia (age-related farsightedness).1 

A presbyopic person may need to hold reading material further away to see clearly. They may also experience blurred vision or eye strain at normal reading distance. These symptoms may worsen in low-light conditions.

Varilux lenses are designed to:

  • Provide sharp vision at all distances 
  • Provide clear vision in dimly lit environments
  • Eliminate off-balance feelings

The lenses accomplish this by transitioning seamlessly from one prescription strength to the next.

According to the manufacturer, Essilor International, Varilux is the #1 progressive lens recommended by optometrists and opticians.2 Current designs accommodate enhancements such as transitions, Crizal anti-glare coatings, and UV protection to help you achieve the most natural vision possible.

Types of Varilux Lenses

Varilux lenses come in three distinct designs made using the same patented technology.3

Varilux® X Series™  

The Varilux X series is the most advanced progressive lens. It uses Xtend® technology to provide smooth transitions and sharp vision at different focal strengths and distances. It also features Nanoptix™ Technology which helps eliminate the “off-balance” feeling common with progressive lenses.

Varilux Comfort Max

Varilux Comfort Max provides clear vision at all distances and in dimly lit places. It features Flex Optim™ Technology which expands the useful vision zone by up to 46%, enabling optimized vision from multiple angles (20/Happy vision).

The 20/Happy vision approach focuses on more than just normal resolution by considering additional factors such as contrast, binocularity, and distortion to provide a clearer and more enjoyable visual experience.

Varilux® Physio® W3+

Varilux Physio W3+ offers similar benefits to Varilux Comfort Max with an added advantage of SynchronEyes™ technology. 

According to Essilor experts, synchronEyes™ enables your eyes to function together more effectively by promoting a smooth transition between near and far vision.

Pros and Cons of Varilux Lenses

Like other lens types, Varilux lenses also have their benefits and downsides.

Pros

  • No visible line on the lens
  • Clear vision, regardless of distance, frame size, or shape
  • High-resolution vision in all lighting conditions
  • Comfortable and convenient in all tasks
  • Safe when doing tasks like driving

Cons

  • Some people take time to adjust to different lens powers
  • More expensive than standard progressives
  • Slight amount of peripheral distortion (swim effect)

The mild side effects should diminish quickly as your eyes adapt. Experts recommend wearing your glasses all day to help your eyes adapt. 

If your eyes still feel uncomfortable after two to three weeks, consult your eye doctor.

How Do Varilux Lenses Work?

Users commonly report peripheral distortions with ordinary progressive lenses. The distortions result from changes in curvature across the lens surface. Since its inception in 1959 by engineer Bernard Maitenaz, Varilux technology has expanded to accommodate the needs of every presbyope. 

Today, only Varilux progressive lenses enable constant clear vision by adjusting prescription based on distance and lighting conditions. They are designed using Wavefront Advanced Vision Enhancement (WAVE) Technology 2™.5 

This technology enables eyeglass designers to do the following:

  • Identify distortions as light passes through the lens 
  • Examine pupil size changes as the eye looks at different distances 
  • Customize each lens based on individual eye prescription and behavior 

Who Benefits From Varilux Lenses?

Varilux includes multiple prescriptions in a single lens, perfect for far, intermediate, and near vision. They’re especially perfect for people with presbyopia (age-related farsightedness).

Presbyopia affects people in their mid-40s and may worsen up until age 65. This is because aging makes the crystalline lens lose flexibility.6 The rigidity of the lens affects how light is focused on the retina, resulting in poor near vision, especially in low-light conditions.

Presbyopic individuals can use single-vision reading glasses to enhance their vision. However, if they also have a problem with distance vision, Varilux lenses offer the best solution for multi-distance vision.

Varilux vs. Bifocal Lenses: Which is Right for You?

Varilux lenses stand out from bifocals and ordinary progressives because they meet the highest standards of natural vision. They enable you to drive and perform computer work and other close activities with a single pair of glasses.

Although bifocals can effectively correct near and distant vision, their limitations cannot be overlooked—they cannot focus clearly on mid-distanced objects and have a distracting middle line separating the two focal strengths.7 

The line forces users to constantly adjust their head position to focus their eyes on the correct lens. In many cases, users experience blurry vision and a feeling of imbalance.

On the contrary, Varilux lenses have no distracting line. The lens is designed with different technologies and eliminates all the disadvantages of bifocals, offering users a seamless transition between distances and lighting conditions. You can use your eyes naturally without needing to tilt your head. 

Varilux Lenses Costs and Insurance

The cost of Varilux lenses depends on the following:

  • The type of lens; the X series costs the most
  • Your prescription
  • The brand and size of frame you choose
  • Your eyeglass provider

The average cost of Varilux is between $129 to more than $400 for the lens alone. A prescription may cost you about $60 to $125 without insurance. 

If you prefer coating to reduce glare and prevent harmful blue light, it may cost you an additional $50 and $100. You may also incur shipping fees if you purchase online.

Insurance 

Your eye insurance should cover the cost of your eye exam and prescription eyeglasses. However, there may be limitations based on your insurance policy. 

For example, only comprehensive coverage may include enhancements such as anti-glare coating and photochromic technology on your lenses.

If you have a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), the funds can cover expenses excluded from your vision insurance.8 Talk to your eye doctor and insurance company to get the exact cost of your Varilux prescription.

Where to Buy Varilux Lenses

Most local eye care practitioners can install Varilux lenses into any frames you choose. They can also enhance your lens with Crizal anti-glare coating and UV-resistant treatment. 

Consult your eye doctor first to understand the full scope of your options. They will examine your vision and recommend the perfect Varilux lenses.

Best Places to Buy Glasses

Best Overall

Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.

Also Great

Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.

Best on a Budget

EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.

Best Places to Buy Contacts

Best Overall

1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.

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Also Great

GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.

Updated on  February 21, 2024
8 sources cited
Updated on  February 21, 2024
  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) “How can presbyopia be corrected?” www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2020.
  2. Essilor. “What Makes Varilux The #1 Progressive Lens Brand?,” www.essilorusa.com, 
  3. Essilor. “Varilux Lens Technologies,” www.essilorpro.com, 2018.
  4. 20/20. “Delivering Postural Flexibility For Pal Wearers With The New Varilux® Comfort Max Lens,” www.2020mag.com, 2021.
  5. Essilor. “What does W.A.V.E. Technology 2™ do for patients?,” www.essilorpro.com, 2016. 
  6. Heys et al., “Presbyopia and heat: changes associated with aging of the human lens suggest a functional role for the small heat shock protein, α-crystallin, in maintaining lens flexibility,” Wiley Online Library, 2007.
  7. Zanen. “The advantages and disadvantages of bifocal lenses,” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 1997.
  8. National Institute of Health (NIH). “The Difference Between A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) And A Health Savings Account (HSA),” hr.nih.gov, 2023.
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.