It has been one year since I started wearing the Varilux X design, and after a full 365 days of wear, and comparing against older, existing technology, as well as one or two new products, I wanted to update the pros and cons of this quantitatively different progressive lens…
After wearing this lens design for a full year I am happy to report that it is definitely the most comfortable progressive I have worn. It provides an exceptional balance between near and distance needs, allowing for a wider-than-normal mid-range zone and a great depth of field than I have ever experienced in a progressive. The X in the name comes from Generation X and this lens truly delivers for my generation and our unique digital needs.
For the typical work/lifestyle environment it’s hard to beat this lens…
The Less Good
I’m gonna drift into the finer details of lens design concepts here, so please forgive me if I go too fast…
Progressive lenses can be categorized generally into two groups: fixed corridor and variable corridor designs
What’s a Corridor???
In the context of a spectacle lens, the corridor is the channel through which the lens changes power from your distance correction to your near correction. Historically, almost all lenses were what we called a fixed corridor. This means that no matter how the frame fit on your face–or how high your eyes were away from the bottom of the frame–the distance (in millimeters) from the distance zone to the near zone was always the same. The advantage to this type of design is two-fold. First, it allows the lens design to guarantee a certain amount of space for the mid-range distance. Secondly, in the older analog technologies it made the math of the design better control the experience of the peripheral distortion (which as you may recall from my previous post here is unavoidable).
The disadvantage of a fixed corridor, however, is if your segment height too short, then the full power of your reading correction is cut out of the frame and you never get to read comfortably. Conversely, if your frame is extra large, you can experience dramatic distortion below your reading zone (just imagine trying to look at your feet while looking through complete, wavy blur).
To deal with these challenging fits, especially as lens technologies were improving and the cosmetics of frames were changing towards much smaller frames (remember all those small rectangular looks in the early 2000’s?), the variable corridor lens was developed.
Variable corridor lenses allow us to compress the amount of space given to the intermediate zone, so you can still reach the full near correction in a small frame. It also allows us to to give more space to the mid-range, if the frame is exceptionally large, thereby also eliminating the messy distortion below your reading area in a big frame.
Both lens design styles have their advantages and disadvantages. The right choice can depend greatly on the underlying technology and the frame fit you choose with your optician.
If there is a flaw in the Varilux X Design, I might say that since it is exclusively a variable corridor length, if you have an unusually long segment height (typically this might happen for an Asian fit in a larger, modern frame) the reading area can be too low to be practical or functional. In these relatively rare circumstances I feel the X Design is not the best choice for a patient.
I discovered this issue through troubleshooting negative experiences with the X Design. In each case, when I switched to a fixed corridor length design, the problem was resolved.
After a full year of wearing this lens, I don’t know if I could say there is a “bad” for this lens. There are caveats for unusual fit or lifestyle needs, but this lens is far and away the easiest to adapt to lens I’ve encountered. There are other lens technologies that work very well, and a couple of new products I’ll be detailing very soon. But of the 62 progressive lens designs I have personally worn, this lens delivers the best balance of function at all viewing distances, and just as important it seems to work well for all prescription types.
Now if they could just make it offered in the new Transitions Colors (article coming within days!) and Polarized Green…hopefully I’ll get to do ANOTHER review update after these new lens styles become available in the Varilux X Design!
15 thoughts on “1 Year Review Recap on Varilux X”
What is the optimal segment height for a Varilux X lens for a person who both needs to work at a computer and to read materials on a desk? (I can choose a frame that would give me that height.)
The distance to my computer screen is 24 in. Reading distance is approximately 14 in.
Possibly because I can no long accommodate (recent cataract surgery), the vertical tilt of my head seems much more critical than prior to cataract surgery, despite using 30 mm tall Zeiss DriveSafe progressive lenses with similar shapes, both pre- and post-surgery. This makes both computer use and reading less comfortable. Following surgery I have close to plano vision in both eyes and a a +2.5 to +3 add for reading.
Do I understand your posts correctly that the greater “depth of focus” with a Varilux X might make head tilt less critical?
Would a deeper lens (35 mm?) help? Would still deeper (40 mm?) be better, or would that likely push my reading segment too low?
Thank you – Donald
Hi there Donald.
The drivesafe paired with that high segment height is part of your problem. The drivesafe has a fairly small near zone. With both the drivesafe and the X a height of between 20-26 mm is probably ideal.
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Thank you. My message might have been confusing. The segment height (which I just measured) is approximately 20 mm from center of pupil to bottom of lens. The total height of the lens is 30 mm. Does that seem appropriate? Would a 5-6 mm longer segment height (e.g., 26 mm in a lens that’s 36 mm tall, rather than my current 30 mm tall lens?) potentially make the computer/intermediate zone and reading zone easier to use? Would the Varilux X (with the same longer segment height) also effectively make these zones larger?
(I’ve used various progressive lenses for 30+ years. It’s the first time I’ve had difficulty using the computer and reading areas. Who knows?)
Thanks again for your help
The 20 mm seg height should be fine. If you had a couple of extra mm it would increase the size of the computer zone, and push the reading a little lower.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the X is not a traditional design. It is actually “pockmarking” BOTH the intermediate and near powers in the middle and bottom of the lens. It’s just changing how much of each is in each area to create emphasis. Pupil dilation allows a half beat delay while your eye switches to the new distance.
In other words I can have something in my traditional reading area and the. Push it further away, but still low (imagine reading near your hip) and I can see just fine after a half second or so.
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I recently got a pair of glasses with these lenses, and I am having a really hard time adjusting. I have worn glasses for nearly 40 years….progressives for about a year. I switched from a standard progressive to this new Varilux X and immediately had problems with being able to view my computer. They made an adjustment, got new lenses Varilux X lenses in…which fixed the computer part. But the rest is just hard to adjust to. My prescription is very strong (-7.25 and -7.50), and I’m wondering if this new technology is a good fit. My vision indoors is the worst part of it….very hard to see. It seems as if I am always struggling to find the spot where I can see clearly…and most of the time…it’s like small blurry spots are always present. I read your review above….and wonder now….if it is because of my frames. My eyes do sit near the top of the lenses. Any advice or help would be appreciated. They’ve asked me to give it 10 days to adjust….but I don’t think I can do it.
Without seeing pics of how they sit I’m guessing that it’s mostly about fit. Distance from your eye can also matter an awful lot, especially with higher powers. Even if you’d rather email, if you could send a pic of the glasses on your face that could help me diagnose.
This new lens design is very well suited to your prescription so I don’t think that’s specifically the issue.
I tried progressive lenses once before and it was awful. For reading, only about one sentence at a time was in focus. I returned them and got bifocals instead. Would the varilux x be better for the reading portion? Thanks.
Thank you for your blog – very interesting to me as I am in a predicament. I have a complex prescription for short-sightedness -7.50 and -7.00. For two or three years I wore Essilor Physio lenses 1.74 index and got on okay but had to accept that my peripheral vision would never be perfect with varifocals.
I recently had a change in prescription and decided to try Zeiss Superb lenses. However, after nearly three weeks I still do not have as good all round vision as previously. The optometrist explained that as my near vision has altered from +1.5 to +2.0, this has the effect of raising the distorted area at the sides of the lenses and I am left wondering whether I will have to get used to this (hopefully), or would I notice any benefit in returning to Essilor Physio lenses? That is my question but if I return these lenses under the optician’s guarantee and have them re-made by Essilor, could I be even worse off as the Zeiss Superb are reputed to be such good lenses? (I have since learned that it is not usually a good idea to change brands).
I was considering paying even more and opting for the Essilor X Series until I read your more recent remarks about distance vision being more distorted at the sides and I know I would find this inconvenient/annoying.
I would be most interested to receive your comments.
I have -6.75 and am new to Varifocals, picking u my first pair today. I am using Varilux X in a medium size frame, with a short corridor.
I can only see an 8 inch wide section of my 27” iMac computer screen in focus, and only the 6 inch left hand side (column half) of a page of A4 paper (a business letter).
So, I have to move my focal point along every line on the page and all around the computer screen. Kind of like what I would expect tunnel vision to be.
Is this normal? Should I be able to read a letter by scanning with my eyes, as I have done for 40 Years with single vision glasses, rather than moving my head?
I’m curious whether the alignments marks (those tiny circles) on progressive Varilux S lenses should be at a straight 180 degree line from one to the other or if it’s okay that the outer circle mark is higher than the inner circle mark at the nose? I have blurred vision at the outer part of my lens and the optician keeps telling me I have a vision problem and it’s not the lens. I also see rainbows in the outer part of the lens on just this one lens and not the other where my vision is perfect. I have transitions in the lenses and AR coating. Are rainbows normal when looking at the inside of the glasses?
You wrote, “I discovered this issue through troubleshooting negative experiences with the X Design. In each case, when I switched to a fixed corridor length design, the problem was resolved.”
Did you keep the optical center height the same and simply change to the fixed corridor? Or raise the OC? Is there a fixed corridor height for the X Design that seems to work well for generalist glasses?
Hi Charis. I always kept the seg height/OC the same and only adjusted to a fixed corridor solution.
I’m feeling confused. In your review you mentioned using a fixed corridor ht in order to address the issue of the reading areas being too low in the X Series lenses when the seg ht is relatively tall. I’ve called our Essilor lab and the X lens only comes in a variable corridor. They said it’s not possible to order a fixed height corridor. Are you sure you’ve used a fixed ht with the X Series? Thanks.