by Jamie Bartlett 7 min read

So, you need varifocals.

Perhaps you already have a pair?

But what are these so-called “office lenses” and should you get them?

 

Office lenses are a supplementary varifocal lens used to enhance close to intermediate tasks such as computer-work, reading and writing. They provide multifocal power for nearby tasks within 4m, thus making them very suitable for occupational work and domestic scenarios such as cooking.

 

So in today’s article I’ve listed the benefits of using office lenses for glasses and the reasons why they can help to improve your office work.

 

Varifocal glasses frame on work desk beside laptop computer

Banton Frameworks - varifocal glasses | Model E/EL-RD | BLU spectacles holder

 

What are occupational lenses?

To begin, there are two main types of varifocal lenses you should know about.

Each have their pro’s and con’s which you can see in the section written below.

  • Everyday varifocals
  • Occupational varifocals (also called office lenses)

 

Everyday varifocals are used for all kinds of daily tasks to help you see at various focal distances.

They can be used for any of the three vision zones which are defined as close, intermediate or distance. This is a “one lens does all” which is handy if you want to avoid having multiple pairs of glasses.

Everyday varifocals are great for many scenarios, from close-reading notifications on your phone to distance-viewing the road when driving. A bit of a jack of all trades.

However, they aren’t so good for occupational tasks as they tend to have quite a narrow intermediate “corridor.” Looking through an everyday lens, there isn’t much lens-space for you to use when using a computer, reading or writing.

In the illustration below, you can see the functional focal area of an everyday varifocal lenses and it’s relatively narrow corridor.

 

Simulation of looking through an everday varifocal glasses lens

 

But what are office progressive lenses?

Office lenses, also called occupational varifocals or office progressives, are intended as a supplementary varifocal lens.

Using your prescription, they’re recalculated and made specifically for intermediate and near distance tasks such as computing, reading and writing.

The drawback of occupational varifocals is they’re limited to a maximum intermediate distance of about 4m. You won’t be able to focus on anything beyond this distance which makes them completely unsuitable for driving.

This is why occupational lenses are always used a supplementary pair of glasses in addition to ones that can help you with distance viewing.

In the illustration below, you can see the benefits of a much broader intermediate corridor through occupational lenses.

 

Simulation of looking through office lenses at a computer screen

 

Should I wear computer glasses?

Computer glasses are a mixed terminology.

In the context of varifocals, this is another phrase used for office or occupational lenses.

In the context of blue light blocking glasses, this refers to the use of an additional lens-coating which you can read more about here.

Sticking to varifocals, are progressive lenses good for computer work?

If you regularly work on a computer, investing in a second pair of office glasses fitted with occupational lenses can help you in a number of ways.

  • Can help working comfort
  • Can improve postural issues
  • Can reduce eye fatigue from HEV light.

Office progressive lenses are specifically designed to maximise the amount of intermediate lens-area you can see through. They have a much broader focal corridor which can help improve your working comfort at your desk.

With an improved and enlarged intermediate lens-section, you won’t need to tilt your head backwards to see through the middle or bottom of your office lenses for screen work.

This is one of the biggest postural benefits of occupational varifocals as they can prevent the habit of tilting your head to see nearby objects such as your computer screen.

According to an article by Ergorisk, long durations of computer work with head-tilt can cause neck or back pain, potentially leading to further muscular implications.

 



“Since a computer monitor is directly in front of the user and at eye level, individuals are often observed tilting their neck back to view the monitor through the bottom of their lenses.

This sustained posture places the individual at increased risk of an musculoskeletal injury (MSI) in their neck or upper back.”

Ergorisk

 

 

Blonde female wearing varifocal glasses tilting her head back

 

In additional to postural benefits, you might want to consider the addition of an anti-blue light lens coating on your lenses.

For intensive screen-work, this add-on may help reduce the eye-strain experienced from long durations of screen-work. This is due to the HEV (high energy visible) light which emits from digital screens such as laptops, monitors and mobile phone screens.

As seen in the image below, HEV is part of the visible spectrum of light which emits from the sun and also from the screens of digital screens.

 

High energy visible light on the electromagnetic spectrum

 

Whilst there isn’t any credible evidence to support the use of blue light blocking glasses, they are capable of absorbing blue light which may help to alleviate irritation and eye fatigue.

According to an article by the Optometry Times, the largest concern about the unknown effects of HEV light is the onset of premature aging of the eyes. Otherwise called macular degeneration.

Because we’re all spending so much time looking at screens, there’s a large question mark over the damage from prolonged screen exposure amongst young people and adults.

 



“Most people are aware that ultraviolet (UV) light is harmful to the eye and may contribute to the development of cataracts and other eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

UV light is the portion of the spectrum below 400 nm.4 While the most abundant source of UV light is the sun, other sources include welder's flash, video display terminals, such as computer monitors, tablets, and smartphones, and fluorescent lighting.”

Optometry Times

 

 

Person using laptop beside window wearing yellow jumper

 

What are the disadvantages of progressive lenses?

Due to their specific usage, progressive office lenses have their own set of disadvantages.

  • Can be costly
  • Only good for close to intermediate tasks
  • You have to have two pairs of glasses
  • Can’t be used for driving

 

Cost: The stronger your prescription, the more likely you are to require a thinner lens with a higher refractive index. In basic terms, high index lenses are more efficient at refracting light which means they can be thinner and lighter than a standard index lens.

If you have a particularly strong sphere (SPH) in your prescription, you will benefit from a high index lens to prevent having cumbersome lenses which are heavy, thick and may protrude from the edges of your glasses.

As a rule of thumb, the higher the index, the higher the price of your lenses. This is the difference between standard and premium progressive lenses which is something to consider if you’re considering a second pair of glasses.

If you’d like a guide to help choosing the correct lens thinning option, click here.

 

Just for the office, occupational lenses are limited to close to intermediate visual tasks. Which for you, might seem a lot of money for a very specific pair of glasses. If you rely on good intermediate vision in order to do your job, office lenses may have to become part of your eyewear arsenal.

 

Two pair of glassesmay seem a little excessive but it’s a common solution if you struggle with close and distance visual focus.

Generally speaking, your near vision starts to show signs of deterioration at the age of 40 or so. This is due to the onset of presbyopia which inhibits your eyes to focus on close distance tasks like reading text messages on your phone.

Reading glasses are a good solution for this but are totally unsuitable for computer work. This is where a varifocal lens can help as they’re give you more focal capacity for multi-distance tasks.

 

Not for driving: Because office lenses are limited to a maximum distance of focus of about 4m or so, they are completely unsuitable for driving. Instead, you should consider a single vision lens for distance vision to aid you for this.

 

Quiet office space with one male sitting at his desk using a computer

 

Why progressive lenses are so expensive

If you’re new to wearing varifocals, the costs can seem comparably high compared to other lens types. This is for three main reasons...

 

Made from scratch

Varifocals contain three crucial details which determine how the lens is made. Your near-add and distance correction to create the rate of progression as well as the axis to correct any astigmatism you may have.

There are simply too many variables to make enough “stock lenses” for every varifocal lens combination which is why they each have to made from scratch. This is carried out via machine grinding your lenses to create the necessary corrections for your eyes.

Single vision lenses are made from “stock lenses” which makes them comparably cheaper and quicker to fit. On the other hand, varifocal glasses are tailor made to your eyes.

 

 

Strength of Sphere

You may have a very high (+) or very low (-) SPH in your prescription.

This is measured in dioptres and determines the focal power of your lenses. Strong SPH prescriptions call for a higher refractive index which are more efficient at refracting light. This keeps lens weight and thickness down, but puts your lens costs up.

 

 

Transition corridor

This refers to the amount of usable area within your varifocal lenses. As seen in the visualisations above, the edges of a varifocal lens are always distorted and unusable to look through.

This is due to the way the lens undulates to create multifocal power. Depending on the type of lens you’d like, you can pay more for a lens with an increased corridor width to maximise the amount of usable lens to look through.

The wider the corridor, the higher the cost.

 

  

Black frame varifocal glasses lying on white desk beside laptop

 

Should I get office lenses?

To summarise, office lenses can definitely help you.

At work, they can improve your working posture by improving your seated position whilst using your computer.

Office lenses are a good preventative for head-tilt, which is a common side-affect from using everyday varifocal lenses.

This is the most assured benefit of investing in occupational lenses if you’re willing to have a second pair of glasses to wear for near to intermediate vision tasks.

Less assuredly, office lenses with an anti-blue light coating is a secondary benefit which you can choose to have added to your office lenses. The evidence on the efficacy of this coating is still yet to be confirmed can give you piece of mind knowing you’ve made a step to reduce the effects of HEV light from your computer screen.

For 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, office lenses are arguably a worthy investment if you want to improve your visual working comfort. Outside of work, other near to intermediate tasks such as cooking can be improved thanks to a larger intermediate corridor.

Hopefully, you’ve found this article useful towards making your decision about office lenses. If you’d like to learn about the best ways to order varifocals online, you should check out my other helpful article which shows you how to do this.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Jamie Bartlett
Jamie Bartlett

Co-founder of Banton Frameworks.



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