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gary31/08/2020 14:52:53
142 forum posts
28 photos

i have had reading glasses for over ten years and now my optician says i need glasses for longer distance, she has suggested varifocals. are they suitable for the workshop? i also hear they take a while to get used to.

Maurice Taylor31/08/2020 15:10:58
219 forum posts
36 photos

,Hi, I’ve worn varifocals for 15 years or more ,I have also a pair of prescription reading glasses .I find the reading glasses are better when using a lathe , welding ,electrical work ,working under a car etc,as when you move your eyes and not your head things will stay in focus .With varifocals things go out of focus when close up and only moving eyes. Hope this helps.


Brian H31/08/2020 15:14:05
2312 forum posts
112 photos

Hello Gary, I've used Varifocals for many year with no problems in the workshop.

The only issue I had at first was shifting my head to get the sharpest image but after a short time that comes naturally.


Nick Clarke 331/08/2020 15:14:12
1475 forum posts
64 photos


While I am not an optician I work with people who have vision issues of various types and I conduct functional vision assessments as part of my job - not to prescribe glasses of course, but to see what issues can be accommodated by other methods. I have been wearing varifocals for over 20 years and would recommend them to anyone. The focus at the bottom is at about 14" and very suitable for reading - but that means that that may be where you have to hold your head relative to a machine dial to read it. The advantage is of course that unlike reading glasses you can usually find an accommodation point for things 20", 30" or any other distance away from your eyes.

The problem is looking down as when you look towards your feet you are looking through the reading part of your glasses and so if you want to focus on your feet for example then you may not find it so easy. The day after I got my first pair we went as a family to Warwick Castle. 'Shall we go up and walk the battlements' sure, and going up was OK. Coming down the spiral staircase was a nightmare! Even now it is faith that gets me down unfamiliar staircases!

With regard to long distances when you look through a pair of single focus distance glasses you may have to adjust your vision to focus while with varifocals you can just move your eye slightly to a different power part of the lens for them to remain effective.

If I change my prescription I am almost immediately at home as I have developed the skill in moving my eye to the right part of the lens to match the power to the task - I don't know if this is a recommended way of going about things, but it works for me.

One issue - driving a loco on a ground level track. Unless it is a large loco you need to look down through the reading part of the lens to see the gauges and if that is not at 14" or thereabouts it will not be in focus so you may need to twist your head and bend over to see clearly.

SillyOldDuffer31/08/2020 15:15:12
8891 forum posts
1998 photos

I have no trouble with mine in the workshop, better than swapping ordinary glasses. Didn't take long to get used to them. At first it was odd walking down stairs because the eye looks through the reading distance part of the lens which doesn't focus properly on the floor. After a few days I didn't notice the difference.

Not everyone takes to them, but everyone I know has.


Dave Halford31/08/2020 15:20:52
2093 forum posts
23 photos

First time you wear varifocals it's a bit weird, I was happy after a day, some take longer.

I use mine everywhere now. I tried the mid (display screen) distance as single vision for working on diy stuff but then the drawing you pinned up is out of focus so gave that up

Clive Foster31/08/2020 15:22:48
3173 forum posts
113 photos


Certainly took me a fair while to adjust to varifocals from single focus.

There are various ways of having them set up too. Especially if, as in my case, your left and right eyes need somewhat different correction.

I got mine for driving and distance work so they are predominately long distance with the reading section at the low end of the magnification required. Means I can read the instruments in the car properly, and all the labels in the supermarket et al without swopping glasses. Get uncomfortable if trying to do serious reading.

I'd hate to use varifocals in the workshop as the changing focus could be a nightmare to cope with. Bad enough if I have mine on and nip into the workshop to look for something. OK for gardening tho'.

For workshop, reading computer et al I have a fixed focus pair good for up to 20 ft (more on a bright day) before things get fuzzy. Pretty much my indoor pair. They also work well with clip on magnifier lenses and a big bench mount magnifier. Varifocals don't do well with those for me.


Nick Clarke 331/08/2020 15:23:53
1475 forum posts
64 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 31/08/2020 15:15:12:

I have no trouble with mine in the workshop, better than swapping ordinary glasses.

Father, who had worn glasses since the age of 10, had a pair of prescription tinted glasses (dark green, well it was the 60s!) While driving to visit patients as a GP he used to leave these on the passenger seat as he was usually the only person in the car.

If the sun came out he would frighten me silly in the back seat by taking off his clear glasses, drop them on the passenger seat and drive along, steering with one hand while he patted the passenger seat with the other trying to find the tinted pair ...............

PS Dave - Is is congratulations on your recent promotion or eternal damnation for going over to the dark side? thumbs up

Douglas Johnston31/08/2020 15:36:14
773 forum posts
34 photos

Like others I have been wearing varifocals for years. At the start it took just a couple of days for the eyes (or is it the brain? ) to adjust to them. I do however find a problem in the workshop with close things like machine dials etc. and find myself removing the specs for clearer vision. Perhaps my prescription needs changing but I won't be going anywhere near an optician while the covid virus is still a problem. Roll on the vaccine!


Mike Poole31/08/2020 15:43:05
3377 forum posts
77 photos

I have found that some distortion of angles occurs, I was convinced a hole in a block which I was sure was square was at an angle, it was square after I checked with a pin and square. I am careful to not believe what I think I am seeing now.


Howard Lewis31/08/2020 15:45:46
6310 forum posts
15 photos

Have used varifocals for several years now. First tried them out on safety glasses supplied by work.

Worked OK, so now have them in my normal specs. Worn for almost every waking hour.

But, like Mike, from time to time it looks as if something that KNOW is square does not look like it is.

Something that of which you need to be aware.


V8Eng31/08/2020 15:47:24
1730 forum posts
6 photos

I have been wearing varifocals for over twenty years and would not have any other type now, I very rapidly adjusted to them from bi-focals.
The only time I found problems was fitting things on ceilings because you are trying to see close up work through the distance section.

Varifocals seem fine for me in the workshop but I do find myself looking head down on stairs instead of ahead.

Edited for auto spelling to bi-vocals ha ha.

Edited By V8Eng on 31/08/2020 15:50:53

IRT31/08/2020 15:59:16
147 forum posts
39 photos

I find they are great for normal use. I have probably been wearing them now for about 10 years, and to be honest I do not know I have them on. I do however stub my toe on things much more than I used to. Probably better to start early with them when the difference between the two lenses may not be very much. It may be easier to get used to them then.

If you do any carpentry you won't be able to trust yours eyes any more and will have to check everything against a straight edge.

My safety glasses are still single lens. I do a bit of TIG welding, and had problems trying to focus on the weld because I found I was not always able to adjust my head to get the focus.

Russell Eberhardt31/08/2020 15:59:36
2751 forum posts
86 photos

The only problem I have with varifocals is when working close to something overhear such as when rewiring a ceiling rose. For those occasions I have a pair of prescription reading glasses.


Emgee31/08/2020 16:01:57
2445 forum posts
291 photos

Reading this post I believe everything has been said about vari focals, I have used them for about 18 years and find some of the problems mentioned are spot on, however having 2 pairs and having to keep changing would be a PITA.

Yes will have to watch the p's and q's now SOD has been selected to keep us in order !!!!!
Perhaps the same can be said for Mike !!!!


Edited By Emgee on 31/08/2020 16:04:10

Speedy Builder531/08/2020 16:44:06
2653 forum posts
219 photos

It is true what IRT said - long pieces of wood take on a banana shape!! BUT that is because the lens can be made with a smaller field or larger field which is the varifocal bit. My first pair were a disaster. The optician said, there are 3 levels of cost for the same prescription. Small cost, small field of varifocal, medium and expensive for the large field of varifocal. I am now on my third pair which have the larger field and am VERY happy with them.

Discuss with your optician and say that you don't want banana wood in your workshop !!

Enough!31/08/2020 17:16:50
1719 forum posts
1 photos

Like others .... varifocals for years. In my case however I have recently swapped back to (tear-drop) bifocals. I did this because my eyesight has started changing rapidly (cataracts) and I have to get new glasses frequently. I didn't want the extra cost of varifocals each time.

and ..... I want my varifocals back - distortions and all !

(That said, I've always purchased cheap, online, single vision glasses both distance (TV) and reading to supplement the varifocals. I also use the plain distance ones under "difficult" driving conditions).


Edited By Bandersnatch on 31/08/2020 17:23:42

Martin Kyte31/08/2020 17:40:06
2789 forum posts
53 photos

Have you considered getting a prescripion set of lenses fitted in safety spec frames. If you ask for a comfortable focus distance of your arm length you will be about right for lathe mill and monitor viewing. It's more comfortable being able to see your whole field of view just by swiveling your eyes and you will find that your fancy varifocals will last longer with less scratches. Clear vision in the workshop with eye protection to boot.

regards Martin

Alan Waddington 231/08/2020 18:02:52
523 forum posts
88 photos

No issues whatsoever in the workshop except welding with a head shield, and if you need to get really close to something in an awkward spot, like working on a car.

Thomas Cooksley31/08/2020 18:35:09
55 forum posts

I've worn varifocals for many years with no troubles at work or in the workshop, it is true that on a few occasions you can end up looking through the wrong part of the lens and you have to shift your glasses to compensate. I personally find a smaller lens better than a larger one but that might just be me. And yes they can take a while to get use to. Tom.

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