The three best varifocal lenses 2019

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‘Varifocal lenses’, otherwise known as ‘Progressive lenses’, are lenses which allow you to see clearly at different distances. But did you know there are hundreds of different types of varifocal lenses?

The type of varifocals you choose can have a dramatic impact on how you see, so it’s really important to get the right ones for you. For example, some lenses give better peripheral vision, some provide more comfortable reading vision, and some even make you see better in the rain or the dark.

In this blog, we’re going to look at the top 3 varifocal lens designs on the market, and feature some expert opinions on what makes them better than the rest. The choices here are presented in no particular order, as what is best for you will depend on what aspect of your vision you want to improve the most.

  1. Hoya Lifestyle 3
  2. Zeiss Drivesafe
  3. Nikon Presio Ultimate


Hoya Lifestyle 3 advertising image

The Hoya Lifestyle 3 is our most recommended varifocal lens. It is based on ID technology, which stands for ‘integrated design’. This was a breakthrough technology which Hoya invented (and patented).

You see, it’s the progression on a varifocal from the distance prescription to the reading prescription which causes some people, particularly first time wearers, to feel disorientated when they wear them. ID technology splits that progression in half, dividing it between the front and back surfaces of the lens. This virtually eliminates the sea-sick, off-balance feeling which many people experience with varifocals, particularly when going up and down stairs.

Lifestyle 3 lenses are our most recommended for first time varifocal wearers, or those who want an excellent balance between, distance, intermediate, and near vision.

Hoya Lifestyle 3 Progressives are a family of lens designs that allow the optical dispenser to consider a consumer lifestyle requirements and tailor the lens to those needs. For example an active sports loving wearer who also uses a smart phone has considerably different needs to a less active wearer who enjoys reading and gardening and the lenses can be bias to those individual needs.

As you would expect Hoya Lifestyle 3 lenses incorporate all the latest design technologies to support comfortable vision every day all day long.

-Andy Sanders, Hoya UK

One of the best features of Lifestyle 3 lenses is that they come with arguably the very best lens treatments available today. In particular, their High Vision Long Life coating is probably the toughest and easiest to clean coating you can get on your glasses, and comes with an excellent warranty.

High Vision Long Life Coating

Anti-reflection coatings have been available for many years and the benefits are clear. Not only do they enhance the appearance of the lenses, they reduce reflections from modern light sources, repel water and grease making the lenses easier to clean and the more premium designs have anti-static properties too which reduced further the lens tendency to attract dirt and dust.

Hoya’s premium coating, Hoya High Vision Longlife takes the concept further by providing market leading scratch resistance so your lenses remain beautifully pristine for longer.

Sensity (photochromic)

Sensity light reactive lenses adapt to changing light conditions, clear indoors and changing quickly outdoors to sunglass levels of darkness. Hoya’s advanced stabilite technology ensures great performance in different conditions and always offering full UV protection even when clear.

Sensity Dark and Shine are the very latest photochromic additions to the Sensity range. Watch this video to learn more:


Zeiss Drivesafe advertising image
The most common complaint we hear about vision is related to driving in the rain or at night… or the nightmare scenario: rainy nights. With that in mind, Zeiss developed a lens which improves our vision in those situations, but is also excellent for general use and what’s more, DriveSafe glasses look just like a normal pair of glasses.

‘Four key technologies are included to provide a lens that can be worn everyday but meets the visual needs of wearers who want to feel safer & more comfortable when driving.’

‘Luminance Design® Technology takes into account different light conditions & pupil sizes to optimise the lens design, this helps to provide better vision in low light conditions such as rain, dusk & night.

DuraVision® DriveSafe Coating is designed to partially reflect a proportion of blue light to reduce the symptoms of glare at night from oncoming car headlights & street lights.

DriveSafe Progressive Design is optimised to provide wider zones of vision at distance & intermediate (dashboard) to enable easier focus when switching between road, dashboard & mirrors.

UVProtect technology provides full UV protection for the eyes & surrounding skin.’

photo of family snoozing in car

 –Rachael Jackson, ZEISS area manager.

DriveSafe lenses are one of our most popular products, and we’ve had numerous people tell us that they have restored their confidence in driving when faced with adverse conditions. But they are also one of the best general-use varifocals you can choose.


Nikon Presio Ultimate advert image

Nikon are probably the most recognizable lens brand in the world, standing for innovation and precision. The ‘Presio Ultmate’ lens represents the best vision that Nikon can provide you. It promises the widest possible field of view and the sharpest perception of the world.

“Nikon Optical are redefining vision… co-designing the Ultimate Varifocal lens for you. By combining the highest precision optics with our 3 unique vision insight technologies we are able to create the only fully bespoke Varifocal available today, offering over 39,000 base lens designs rather than just 1 pre-determined design! The Presio Ultimate is really just that, the Ultimate!

Using our 3 unique vision insights which are based on your needs, preferences and viewing habits, we create a lens that offers seemingly uninterrupted vision with minimal visual distortions. By taking into consideration what lens design the patient has previously worn we deliver a unique lens that makes it feel familiar but with sharper, clearer vision making adaption seamless.

Although we have a 90 day returns policy in place, since the launch of this product we have had not one single return from a patient that hasn’t been able to tolerate their lens. This speaks massive volumes on just how good this lens actually is and how it is improving the wearers visual sharpness and comfort in Varifocals.”

Mark Scott, area manager Nikon Lenswear

‘It isn’t just about reducing aberration, you also need to make any remaining aberration as invisible as possible. This breakthrough is really what sets us apart from the others. That’s why nothing else really works like Ultimate’

 –Kazuya Taki – Head of R&D Nikon Lenswear

Nikon Ultimate lenses are a bit too new for us to give our opinion on, but the technology certainly sounds impressive. And Nikon are a brand with a deservedly excellent reputation. You can be pretty confident of receiving excellent vision with a set of these lenses. 

Update: check out the video guide to choosing the right varifocal lenses for you


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The Spectacle Factory is rated 5 out of 5.0 stars based on 20 review(s).


The Spectacle Factory was recommended to me by a friend and my experience from my initial eye test to taking delivery of my new glasses was first class throughout. The attention I received from James during my eye examination was both extremely thorough and professional. He worked patiently and diligently to fine tune my prescription. Robert's involvement in choosing my new frames and lenses was brilliant. At no time did I feel under pressure into making quick decisions regarding the choices made available to me. His expert knowledge and enthusiasm was very reassuring at all times. Having experienced several years of eye discomfort, I am now overjoyed with the difference that the team at The Spectacle Factory have made to my vision. Many Thanks.

- Mr Michael Mortimer


I brought my daughters in recently for their first eye tests and I was so impressed with how patient and thorough all the staff were with us. Trying to get a four year old to sit still enough for the scans was very difficult but Ben tried his best and didn’t seem to let it phase him. Claire was wonderful during the eye test itself, employing my 6 year old to be her assistant and making it fun for them both. Not being a glasses wearer myself, I was quite overwhelmed when I was told my 6 year old needed glasses, but Robert helped me to understand what her prescription meant and made sure that her beautiful new glasses fit her just right! Thank you so much to everyone at SF!

- Emma Venn


Picked my Reykjavik Eyes glasses up Thursday . Robert and his team are outstanding . I am a nervous customer due to bad experiences when I was young . They made the whole experience special and made me at ease throughout both visits . Robert is brilliant regarding frames to suit you no pressure just brilliant support and help . I would wholeheartedly recommend The Spectacle Factory to everyone. Thanks a million everyone.

- Alison Wood


Five stars without any hesitation. I immediately felt at ease and the atmosphere was very welcoming. The service was prompt and efficient. I felt the examination was very thorough and any questions I had were clearly answered. When it came to choosing my frames and what my prescription involved the options available to me were fully outlined. I didn’t feel under any pressure and I felt in charge of the transaction. From entering to leaving it was a lovely experience. I was a little hesitant in the current situation, but my fears were soon allayed as every precaution was taken to minimise the risks. Superior to any high street optician. Excellent all round! EH

- Elizabeth Horsfield


Living some 300 miles from The Spectacle Factory visiting was not an option for me, however, after checking all the reviews I decided not only to buy my J.F. Rey frames (seen on an online video by Robert) but also have my Zeiss smart life progressive lenses made by them. I had no worries. After taking advice from Robert the measurements required for the lenses were done locally at a nominal cost. I am now the proud owner of a pair of handmade 'wow' glasses and a very happy new customer. Use them with confidence. The customer service is truely outstanding.

- Alan Astin


Well they you pay for what you get. It’s definitely true of The Spectacle Factory. There customer service is the best I have experienced anywhere. I was not rushed with any decision and I was made to feel like I was there most important customer. What I paid was an eye watering amount but I got smartlife ziess lenses and frames that are very comfortable. I now also have very clear vision when reading. I thought it was not clear due to lighting in modern offices and homes. Wrong it was bad lenses and persecution not being quite right. Thank you for sorting it all out at the first attempt.

- Heath Christy


ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT I have been using the Spectacle Factory for a long time, but the latest visit was the best BY FAR..... I desperately needed an eye test, and was fitted in quickly. James, the optician, was excellent , as usual. 4 members of staff were outstanding in the service I received. Robert, Ben and Emma were absolutely perfect.....and Ruth, the manager was excellent, as she always is. The best visit by far...I cannot rate this place higher !!!

- K Rhys


Welcomed by and dealt with Robert during the whole process of choosing through to final fitting. Great service, great range of glasses, really helpful and informative. I would highly recommend

- Jenny T


After reading all the positive reviews I decided that a 40 minute drive would be worth it to try and get a new prescription and frames- I wear my glasses all day so need to get this right. I was so impressed with everyone’s desire to be helpful and make sure I was happy at every part of my visit. I wasn’t the quickest at choosing new frames but never felt rushed by Robert. He listened and gave helpful advice as we worked through choosing the frames and lenses I needed. They have a huge range of frames which meant I ended up with a pair I was really happy with. I actually chose a pair of prescription sunglasses as well, which I have been meaning to do for years. I loved the combination of cutting edge technology and personalised service. It’s so nice to see a team that places such a priority on customer satisfaction - they certainly deserve 5 stars.

- S McReynolds


Fantastic service! I attended the spectacle factory over a year ago for an eye test. They were amazing, and so patient with me! My Polaroid frame broke recently, so in desperate need called the spectacle factory to order a replacement frame. They were so efficient and helpful. Also my frames were covered under warranty and I didn’t have to pay a penny. AMAZING. Couldn’t recommend them anymore!

- Rebecca F


Friendly service, thanks to Robert who took the time and care to ensure that I was happy with my new glasses. I would definitely recommend.

- Paul Wellman


Visited the Spectacle Factory a couple of weeks ago for the first time. James did my eye test and was very thorough and informative. Chose a pair of glasses afterwards with the help of another member of staff. Great customer service. I have always gone to high street opticians before and never sure what glasses suit me. I was allowed to take my time and offered helpful advice. Love my new glasses which I picked up with the week. I will be returning to the Spectacle factory in the future. Far superior in terms of quality and customer service compared to other opticians I have been too.

- J B


My wife and I both have great glasses (and sunglasses) from The Spectacle Factory. Right from our very first visit we have been very impressed with the highest level of care and attention to detail, both with eye tests and the choice of lenses and frames. They seem to have a flair for helping you to choose the right glasses. Once your order is ready, nothing is too much trouble to ensure that the fit and the suitability of your glasses is perfect for your needs and that you are completely happy. Their ongoing service is second to none. We can highly recommend The Spectacle Factory..

- Geoff Gosling


Came in today for help with some frames, repaired no questions asked, there and then on the spot Brilliant service

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- Roy gardiner


The Spectacle Factory offer me the kind of customer service and ability to customise my choice of spectacles that just is simply not available on the High Street. From Initial contact, to delivery of the finished product, you are treated like a loyal friend. Nothing is too much trouble. Unbiased advise, on choosing the correct spectacles for your particular application. A vast range of frames from the very cheapest to the latest designer frames. I choose the Spectacle Factory, because they can provide me with, customised glasses, to align with my particular needs and requirements. Most high street opticians have a 'one size fits all' attitude. The Spectacle Factory does not subscribe to this theory and treats every client as an individual. Their eye sight is very comprehensive and is 50% longer than the industry standard. If you value your eyesight, and want the very best care, this is the place to visit.

- Paul van de Rooy


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- Dan Amin



- James


Excellent advice with a fantastic product range,

- Thomas Sayer


Highly recommend The Spectacle Factory - excellent service will definitely be using again.

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