Review: Varilux X – The Best Lenses?

Varilux X Lenses

In this review we’re looking at Varilux X, the (fairly) new progressive lenses offered from Essilor.  This is a non-biased review where we have purchased the lenses ourselves and are in no way affiliated with Essilor or any other brand in the glasses/lenses market.

Like many others who have passed the age of 40, I have been suffering from presbyopia for a while, and have been using progressive glasses for about a year to accommodate that.  Having been hearing a lot about Varilux X and how those lenses are just a cut above the rest, I decided to purchase them in order to review them here for anyone who is thinking about purchasing these lenses. These are my thoughts on Varilux X.

Choosing Glasses and Frames

I have a fairly “mild” prescription so most frames will do just fine to fit lenses into i.e. the sphere and cylinder values are quite low.  For this review, I decided to go with a couple of very subtle Lindberg frames that looks nearly rimless.  It comes with a titanium rim with a patented hinge mechanism for the arms of the glasses to open and close.  Quite nice looking, in my opinion.

Lindberg Titanium Frames with Varilux X Progressive Lenses
I went with the Lindberg Titanium Frames with the trademark Lindberg hinge mechanism

The processes of fitting these lenses to me were quite lengthy and rigorous which I kind of took to mean the optician was meticulous i.e. something positive.

Once the fitting was done, I needed to wait for about three weeks to get the glasses since the lenses themselves were produced and cut in Germany (according to my optician) and the frames were ordered from Denmark.

Varilux X – First Impressions

Upon receiving the glasses, I tried them on in my opticians office and where I’ve tried a couple of different brands before and always felt like “OK, these are going to take some time getting used to”, these just fit right out of the box with zero blur.  This is quite a feat.  Zero blurriness in progressive glasses is something I thought was impossible before trying on the Varilux X glasses.

So what about the viewing experience?  Turning my head around, tilting it a bit still gives no blurriness. However, when sitting down in front of a computer in my opticians office, I still need to tilt my head just a tad backwards to get the screen to fit into the lower area of the glasses that accommodates presbyopia.  Also, looking at the top right corner of the computer screen still means that I need to change the position of my head just a tad or it becomes a bit blurry.

All in all, a very good first experience.

The Benefits of the Variable Corridor

As with practically all high end offerings from other manufacturers, Varilux X has a variable corridor.  For spectacle lenses, the corridor is the channel through which the lens changes power from your distance correction to your near correction.  Where all other manufacturers I’ve tested have quite a visible corridor, the Varilux X lenses does not have that “hour glass” feel to them. I don’t know how they do it, but there’s just no side blur nor any real “switch” between long distance and short distance.  Not being in the lenses business myself, I cannot put better words on this other than to say that the transition between long distance and close distance feels seamless in a way unique to these particular lenses.

Everyday Experiences With Varilux X

I’ve been using this pair of Varilux X now for a little over a month in order to be able to write a fair and balanced review.  I’ve tried using them as often as possible; when driving, cycling, walking in the rain, cooking, reading, and doing the odd computer stuff. The following sticks out with Varilux X:

  • The driving experience is excellent. Switching view between the windshield and the dashboard requires little to no head tilt.
  • Cooking i.e. cutting vegetables with a knife and checking the pots etc works really well. No distorted view or erroneous perspective
  • Walking in stair cases is a lot better than any other progressives I’ve tried so far.  Zeiss Individual II, an excellent pair of progressive lenses, is perhaps having stair case walking as its biggest Achilles heal.
  • Reading is OK. Again, you need to tilt your head ever so slightly so extended reading, especially in bed is not something I’d recommend.  YMMV I guess.

All in all, the Varilux X lenses works out really well.

Long Distance Clarity – The Only Small Drawback

While the intermediate and near distance is near perfect, I have to say it comes at the cost of losing – if ever so slightly – the clear view of the long distance zone. Perhaps it’s because it’s visibly smaller than that of other manufacturers’ but nevertheless the problem is there. Comparing them to non-progressive glasses and also the Zeiss Individual II progressive lenses, they are inferior in this aspect. Objects in the distance are just a tad less focused than say the Zeiss equivalent lenses.  Not so much that it becomes a real problem but enough to become an annoyance.

You should again note that I’m not in any way a lenses connoisseur, I’m just someone interested in how different progressive lenses does the job of helping people with presbyopia cope with everyday situations wearing progressive glasses.

Summary

In summary, I have to say the good very much outweighs the bad when it comes to Varilux X lenses. I have yet to come across another progressive lens that can beat it, point by point. If it wasn’t for the noticeably worse distance view I’d given them 10/10 for function, but now it stops at 8 out of 10, also taking into account the extremely steep price these lenses carries.

The Good

  • Zero blur.  This is the way progressive glasses should feel like.
  • Zero “learning time”.  Putting these glasses on for the first time felt like coming home. No learning curve what so ever.
  • No hour glass effect in the corridor.  Moving from distance to intermediate to near field of vision is seamless and you can even look to the sides and no blur appears. Quite amazing.

The Not So Good

  • Distance viewing is less clear than competitor offerings. This may be very subjective but this is my feeling having worn the Varilux X for over a month now

The Bad

  • The price.  It’s too expensive for ordinary people and that’s a shame because everyone should be allowed to experience this type of viewing when it comes to progressive lenses.

 

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