What are the best varifocal lenses in 2020?

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In this blog we take a look at Zeiss SmartLife Varifocal lenses, and why they are probably the best varifocals for you. You can learn more about Zeiss here.

2020 certainly has been a bizarre year. But despite the circumstances there is one societal trend that is not going away (if anything the recent pandemic has only accelerated it) – digital device usage.

According to Leftronic:

  • 2.71 billion people in the world own a smartphone in 2019.
  • More than 5 billion people in the world own mobile devices.
  • 79% of adults have their smartphones with them 22 hours a day.
  • 194 billion mobile phone apps were downloaded in 2019.
  • Internet users grow at a rate of 1 million new users a day.
  • Mobile owners worldwide will increase to 7.33 billion by 2023.

But here’s an alarming fact: varifocals were not originally designed for smart phone usage. The way we used our close-up vision when varifocals were invented over 50 years ago was radically different than it is today.

I attended the Zeiss ‘Seeing Beyond’ conference in Berlin last year (back when travelling was a thing) for the launch of SmartLife lenses. I was privy to all the research Zeiss had done to create a new generation of varifocal lenses.

Zeiss discussed 2 main differences in how our habits have significantly changed thanks to smartphones and other digital devices.

Firstly, they analysed the angle and distance we tend to hold a smartphone compared to a book. Unsurprisingly, how we look at these two kinds of media is completely different. We tend to not only hold a smartphone a bit closer to our eyes, but we also hold them at a different angle! Therefore, we look through a different part of our glasses (than we would if we were reading a book), and so the area of close-up focus needed to be adjusted for that.

Secondly, Zeiss researched how people’s lives have changed. The answer: multitasking is something we are doing like never-before. We are on the move more often, and of course we tend to look at our smartphone whilst on the go (while trying not to walk into traffic). This means we not only switch focus from near to far more than ever (and much more than you realise) but we also use our peripheral vision an incredible amount throughout the day.

SmartLife lenses help you with this by having a clearer peripheral zone, and a smoother transition between different parts of the lens, so your eyes have to do less work.

The result of all this is that SmartLife varifocals were completely redesigned to make sure you are less distracted by your eyes than ever before when using digital devices. You can focus on what you need to do, whether that is being productive or relaxing at home, with strain-free, crystal clear vision.

But SmartLife lenses aren’t just great for viewing a smartphone. Here are 4 more reasons why Zeiss SmartLife varifocals are probably the best varifocals in 2020:

Wider Field of View.
Many varifocals restrict your field of view, meaning you have to turn your head a lot when wearing them. This isn’t only annoying, it can put strain on your eyes and even your neck. In my experience, this is one of the main reasons why people often don’t adapt to wearing varifocals. With Zeiss SmartLife varifocals, you get an extremely wide field of view, so they feel natural to wear.
i.Scription Compatible.
SmartLife lenses are so precisely made, they can be manufactured to a prescription 25 times more accurate than usual. We call this your ‘i.Scription’. This allows you to get superior colour vision, night vision, and contrast. If you have your eye test with us, we include your i.Scription in your Zeiss Smartlife varifocals at no extra charge.
Sunglass-level UV Protection.
As of right now, Zeiss are the only lens manufacturer producing lenses which proved full UV protection with no visible tint whatsoever. Since UV damage plays a role in some of the most common eye diseases, specifically cataracts and macular degeneration, wearing these lenses plays a big role in keeping your eyes healthy.
Scratches? Nope.
You never know when your glasses might get scratched. That’s why, when you order SmartLife varifocals from us, you get DuraVision Platinum included as standard. This coating provides excellent scratch resistant, reflection free vision, anti-static and waterproof properties and makes them very easy to keep clean.
Customise your SmartLife lenses.

Not only can you combine your new SmartLife varifocals with technologies like PhotoFusion (this makes them go darker if you’re in bright light outdoors), there are 3 variations of SmartLife varifocals:

Zeiss SmarLife Plus – the most affordable, standardised Smartlife Lenses. Despite being the least expensive SmartLife option, you still get all the benefits listed above.

Zeiss SmartLife Superb – an even wider field of view, especially for stronger prescriptions, plus these lenses are adapted to the exact frame you choose.

Zeiss SmartLife Individual – completely bespoke lenses with the widest field of view and specially adapted to your personal near vision habits – for example if you tend to use a desktop PC or a laptop more often.

VR Technology allows you to try before you buy.

We have already had many clients who have switched to SmartLife lenses and reported seeing better than ever before (a big part of this is the integrated i.Scription technology).  What is even better is that quite a lot of people who haven’t found varifocals suitable in the past are now able to wear them very happily for the first time ever, meaning no more hassle having to constantly switch between distance and reading glasses. We offer a Virtual Reality try on of Zeiss SmartLife varifocal lenses before you buy, so you can see the difference for yourself and decide if they are worth it to you. It is at least worth seeing the difference that the best varifocals available in 2020 can make to your vision before you choose your next pair of glasses.

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Read Our Reviews

The Spectacle Factory is rated 5 out of 5.0 stars based on 22 review(s).


I have recently bought two pairs of Eco Ocean glasses, one pair being prescription sunglasses, both pairs fitted with Zeiss varifocal lenses, and they are superb!! Both pairs have given me the sharpest vision I’ve ever had. Huge thanks to Robert and James and the whole team at The Spectacle Factory for giving me an experience that goes far beyond a high street opticians.

- Andrew Rogerson


Spectacle Factory i can say are the best supplier of quality glasses i have used to date. The range and quality of frames are second to none. I bought 4 pairs it was that good. I feel i should give a special mention to the lady on the fitting and choosing of the frames. Emma was very helpful and clearly loved her job. She made the whole process enjoyable and i now actually enjoy wearing glasses rather than hide the fact. thanks Emma and team

- philip


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

- Alex


All the staff are so helpful and switched on to all your requirements I would recommend them all day what a good experience

- 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


Rob and the team were excellent help with the professionalism and advise . I will become a faithful member of the spectacle factory!! Thanks again team

- Dan Amin



- James


Excellent advice with a fantastic product range,

- Thomas Sayer


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

- Hattie

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