Product Review: Varilux X Design

There is a constant evolution of Progressive lens technologies. While the overwhelming trend is for each advancement in lens technology to improve the patient wearing experience, there are occasional hiccups along the way which do not perform “as advertised.”

As your Optical “Jedi” I have taken it upon myself to test out as many of these new lens advancements by wearing them myself. At this stage in my optical career, I have been wearing progressive lenses for 8 years and have personally worn and tested 54 lens designs.
New Varilux X Design

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Just two weeks ago, the latest lens design from Varilux hit the market. Varilux is probably the best known brand name of progressive lenses by patients. They were at the forefront of developing the “No Line” lens back in 1959 and have continued to be amongst the leaders in lens designs.
As a disclaimer, I will admit that I have worked in many practices that have had an active partnership with Varilux and it’s parent company Essilor. This has allowed me to test more of their lenses than most competitors and I know there are many designs from competitors with great reputations. In fact, I have many lenses from several manufacturers which I recommend, based on patient scenario.

Despite my higher exposure to Varilux branded progressive lenses, I do not always feel their latest lens developments are indeed the best products available to meet patients’ needs. Often, their latest developments seem to niche, helping one type of prescription better than another.

The Review

I have been wearing my new Varilux X Design for just about a week, and not to put too fine a point on it, I’m thoroughly impressed. The wearing experience has been incredibly comfortable, and it has been one of the fastest lens adaptations I’ve experience.

There is no such thing as the “perfect lens.” Every design has some zone that is out of focus, or has issue with the vision rocking, bulging, or swimming. This lens is not “perfect” either, but it’s easily the closest to perfect I’ve experienced. According to the manufacturer, the lens was developed over 5 years of research into a different way of mapping the power distribution across the lens.

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The point of the research is to try and improve the wearing experience for the modern world. The advent of the digital devices, such as smart phones and tablet computers, have had a dramatic impact on how we utilize our near vision. Traditional progressive lens designs stagger your zones to take advantage of the way we used to look at the world (i.e. top is distance, middle is desktop computer distance, bottom is book distance). Of course, since the personal digital device explosion, the reality of where we need to see and at what distance we need to see has changed. The new Varilux X Design is attempting to address this change.

So far, I will say this has been an admirable attempt to address the issue of where we look. There are still spots where I have difficulty finding a crisp focus, but there are in the usual trouble zones of the bottom corners of the lenses. In the meantime, however, I can focus at full near while in the “mid-range” zone and I can find the mid-range in the “blurry periphery.”

The Varilux X Design lens will be going on the VSP formulary in just a couple of weeks and I have to say just after one week of wear, I’m ready to call this my absolute go-to lens for almost all conceivable patient scenarios.

Back to School!

Within days (or weeks depending on where you live), the little tykes will be leaving the home, and heading back to school. Parents will gain back some small sliver of peace and quiet (only to lose evenings, helping with homework).  With the return to school, it’s important to think about the vision needs of your kids in a new way. There are many aspects of a child’s visual needs which can become more prominent as the school year begins.

Keep in mind, if a child’s vision is not properly corrected it can cause developmental delays and adversely affect their grades and enjoyment of school.  A child cannot tell you they don’t see well, if they don’t know how they should see in first place!

The Modern Classroom

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Today’s children face very different visual demands than we did as children. First and foremost amongst those changes are the prevalence of digital devices. Virtually all children, from every socio-economic demographic, face a much higher demand on their eyes because of this increase in screen time. Even much school work is completed on tablets in the classroom and many lectures are in PowerPoint, not to mention the increasing reach of Google Classroom for their homework. All of these things dramatically impact the exposure to Harmful Blue Light for kids today.  There have been numerous studies showing a correlation between exposure and the development of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) later in life.  AMD is an eye condition which is irreversible.  Once it begins, we can only slow it’s progress and the end result is blindness.  The Macula is the central portion of the retina with the highest concentration of cones (color sensing photo-receptors).

Children today, will have a much higher lifetime exopsure to Harmful Blue Light because they are growing up with digital devices and LED light bulbs, which both put out a much higher concentration of the blue light we are concerned with.

Modern lens technologies have ways for us to filter the harmful aspects of blue light, while allowing the “good” blue light to get through.

Glare From Screens

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In addition to the concerns of Harmful Blue Light exposures, all of those digital devices create a lot of eye strain from the glare reflecting off the screens as well.  Having a good Anti-Reflective (AR) coating can help to reduce the strain caused by reflections off of devices, as well as the reflections within the lens.  In addition, there are some AR coatings which can filter even more of the Harmful Blue Light (such as Crizal Prevencia from Essilor).
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Kids Play Outdoors Too

If your child plays outside, and needs a distance correction, you probably should consider Transitions lenses as well.  These lenses adapt to light (or UV) exposure to make a lens comfortable in most lighting conditions.  They also come in three colors, so they can be cosmetically appealing to your child, as well as provide the right kind of contrast for their favorite outdoor activities.  There are other brands of photochromic lens technologies available, so make sure you are choosing the right type for your child’s needs.  Transitions has more than one version, to fit all the different lifestyle needs.  For example, there are versions that respond to any visible light, or those that respond only to UV exposure.  This is one category where personal preference becomes the most important decision making factor, in my opinion.
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Don’t Forget Sports

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The beginning of the school year also often means the beginning of team sports season as well.  From basketball, football, hockey, and volleyball, having a good pair of protective sports eyewear is critical.  There are many manufacturers of sports glasses. I don’t really want to endorse any specific brand (though I do have the greatest experience working with Liberty Eyewear).  The most important things to be looking for when choosing a sports pair of glasses are:

  • Safety Thickness (Z95.1)
  • There is silicon or rubber padding around the bridge and eye socket

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Sharing a Link

I felt it important to share this piece which popped up on my feed today.  Much of what is said here is very valid for the vast majority of you.  I realize that not everyone is comfortable, or even able, to spend $1000 on a pair of glasses, but thereare reasons we, as opticians, recommend glasses that total in this neighborhood .

Thank you to Dr. Cathy Wittman for this piece.

Enjoy:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-spending-over-1000-glasses-worth-dr-cathy-wittman