Young girl smiling at camera in glasses

What’s the difference between varifocal and bifocal glasses?

If you’re confused by the words bifocal, trifocal, multifocal and varifocal lenses, don’t worry – you certainly aren’t the first. It’s important that you find the lens that will work best for you, and this will depend on your own individual preferences and prescription. At Eyesite, our specialist team is always on hand to talk you through all your options and advise you on the best glasses for you.


Below, we’ve summarised the key differences between each of these lens types to help you understand what will work for you.

What are bifocal glasses?

different glasses lens typesGlasses with bifocal lenses are most commonly used by those with presbyopia – an age related condition where the eyes begin to struggle to focus on anything at close distance. This difficulty usually results in people requiring glasses with two different prescriptions, one for short and one for long distance. On lenses, these two prescriptions have a distinct line between them; there is no gradual distinction between the two. Wearers have to look up and down to switch between the prescriptions they need, with long distance prescription at the top and near distance at the bottom.

What are trifocal glasses?

Like bifocal glasses, trifocal glasses lenses have visible lines separating prescription powers; however they also have a third middle section for an ‘intermediate’ power. This allows users to view both distance and near at an intermediate level.

What are varifocal/multi-focal glasses?

Unlike bifocal glasses lenses, varifocal glasses (or multifocal glasses) change prescription seamlessly throughout the lens – there is no definitive line between them like bifocals or trifocals. Instead, they progressively change lens powers from top to bottom, ensuring seamless transition for whatever prescription is necessary.

Bifocals vs. Varifocals: What are the benefits?

Bifocal Benefits

  • Usually more cost-effective than varifocals
  • Just need the one pair of glasses
  • Wide field of vision

Varifocal Benefits

  • No distinct lines between prescriptions
  • Intermediate zones with smooth, seamless transition
  • Just need the one pair of glasses

Interested in Bifocals or Varifocals?

If you’d like to understand more about bifocal and varifocal glasses then our experts in branch can talk you through your options. We will show you how to get the most out of your chosen lenses and find the right glasses that suit you. Choosing new glasses can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, but at Eyesite we take the time to ensure that you’re guided through the process at your pace.