Can’t get on with varifocals – you haven’t tried our’s!

Every day at work I end up having a conversation with a patient who is worried about having trouble getting used to a pair of varifocals, yet I can’t remember the last time I have had a conversation with someone who actually has.

This is because there is a number of really simple things I can do to prevent problems from happening in the first place. Commonly encountered problems would be feeling like you are walking uphill, feeling nauseous, never feeling like you are looking through the correct part of the lens or misjudging the depth of a step. My dad says that the first generation of varifocal lenses required seasickness tablets!

I would say that the vast majority of patients who come to me having had problems with a new pair of glasses (and we’ve had a lot over the years), the problem has been one of the simple ones. The prescription the optometrist chose was not a smart one, the frame choice could have suited the lenses a lot better, the distance between the person’s eyes wasn’t measured accurately or the lens type was not intelligent. But there are ways and means to avoid the more complicated ones also.

Firstly, I make sure you are able to make a fully informed decision – I never make the choice for you. No matter whether you are an optical genius or really struggle to get new concepts, I take time and effort to ensure you genuinely understand how different types of lenses would work for you. This includes their various plusses and minuses and how these plusses and minuses will fit into your particular lifestyle. Once you have made your decision, I discuss the different options within that lens type and how we could minimise these particular downsides for you.

All of this is helped by the fact that none of our patients ever pays for something they don’t like. You get to try it out for a month and if it doesn’t do exactly what you want it to, you bring it back and we work out an alternative. This means that you can feel entirely free to try new solutions to your problem with an open mind and no stress.

Once we have done this, I will take the measurements for where the lenses should be centred in the frame to an accuracy of half a millimetre. I also know best how the your particular lenses in your particular prescription will work with your frame on your face (that’s a lot of variables and any of them have the potential to result in a rubbish pair of glasses). In opticians these days, once you have had your eyes tested, you are pretty unlikely to clap eyes on the optometrist ever again and this is a problem.

Finally, I check the completed order personally. Because I know that I will be fitting them, sat in front of you, presenting your new glasses to you, checking your vision and adjusting them myself, I am hugely motivated for them to be perfect. We demand one of the highest standards of quality in our glazing of any opticians in the UK….just ask our suppliers.

When we do all this, we find that varifocals work pretty well – when new patients tell me that they can’t get on with varifocals my response is, “This is a bit cheeky, but you haven’t tried mine!”

If you would like to try varifocals, give Ann or Ali a call on 02890 323 341 or e-mail them at and arrange an appointment to see me.

Andrew Petticrew BSc(Hons) MCOptom.

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