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.

Update 8/23/17

I have discovered that there was an issue with the anti-reflective coating on the lenses I received from the lab.  A small thing, but it was impacting my night vision.  After the replacement lenses were put in, I can say that the night vision clarity is also quite good.  I’ve previously worn a set of lenses specifically designed to help with night vision and I do feel that those outperformed my new pair in that situation.  But in all other respects, these new Varilux X Design lenses are better than previous lenses I’ve worn.

If you have any questions, comments, or anything else, please don’t hesitate to respond in the comments section below.  I look forward to addressing any questions you might have about glasses in the future.

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17 thoughts on “Product Review: Varilux X Design

  1. I would like a specific review of these for people who constantly use a desktop computer! I’ve always had to have separate computer glasses so I don’t have to tilt my head to focus on the monitor. Will these work for all day computer use? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Diane!

      This isn’t as straight forward as you may think. Monitor placement and size can have a significant impact on how well this lens might work for you.

      I personally only use my X design and they work great on the computer for me. My monitor is arms length away and the top of the screen is almost exactly level with my eyes.

      Knowing more about how strong your reading correction is can also factor in this usefulness for heavy desktop use.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t include in my general comment, but from my optometrist and my own research, these lenses were developed based on Gen X (hence the name) and younger boomers with the high computer and smart phone use jobs those people tend to have. Being a progressive lens rookie, I don’t really know the difference with these versus other progressive lenses, but I can say my experience 24 hours in is consistent with what I’ve read and heard from other X wearers. Since this is Day 1 for me, my opinion may change. I’ll come back here and comment again over the next few weeks if my opinion changes significantly or I have something new to add.

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  2. This is my first time wearing progressives and my first day at work. I chose the X based on recommendations from a technician there that had just started wearing them as well. I was extremely surprised how easy they were to adjust to for the most part. I don’t have noticeable blurring on the side edges. Only the bottom. I do sit at a computer all day and I had to adjust monitor height some, but at this point, I feel comfortable with where the monitors are. Reading a book or looking at my phone was pretty natural, too. I’m assuming/hoping the distortion as I’m stepping off a curb or down stairs I will adjust. That and having a brief “whoa” moment this morning (first time progressive wearer) are the only things I’ve had issue with and I’m sure I’ll adjust.

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  3. Hi, i just ordered my first glasses with Varilux X and need help. 52 year old recently retired military pilot with near perfect vision and presbiopia. I’m a -.25 for distance and 1.25 reading. After trying test lenses to view very distant objects I switched to -.5 and everything is clear for miles. That is where the fun stops and the pain begins and my wallet is $1100 lighter (not including frames). I visited many optical stores. The knowlege of staff concerning flying was non-existstant (e.g.tints, polarization, etc). I said I wanted to correct my distance vision and have the best glasses to scan instruments and work in the cockpit in day and night lighting. I said I may use them for driving if they worked but my concern was good glasses for flying. I was very precise in what I wanted and repeatedly stated that if they did not have the equipment or technology to direct my to another vender. I said this because my HMO optician only sold general (older model) lenses and suggested I look elseware. A vender assured me they could handle anything. I specifically asked about visioffice and iterminal for measurements and was told that they were used by competitors because of poor staff and did not affect the lens manufacturing or make a better product. I had Silhouette frames from my HMO and no lens blanks but the vendor sold the same frame. The only measurements taken to construct my lens was with a corneal reflex pupliometer and fitting height. There were no other frame specific measurements. When the lenses arrived, the owner of 30 years sat across from me with a lens blank on his hand and marked it with a felt pen while holding it over my eye. (Hello paralax). I also indicated the hight of my instrument panel and he moved the point up 1mm on the lens. He rechecked my eyes with the pupilometer and said the glasses would be ready tomorrow. THE GLASSES ARE JUNK! I am better served with contacts to correct my distance vision and my 1.25x $29 Foster Grant reading glasses. I had the same vendor perform a contact fitting when I ordered my lenses on Sunday. I tried the contacts PERFECT!! I called the vendor on Monday morning and asked them to stop the lense order. They said that they had submitted the order two hours earlier and there was no way to stop the order. The distance vision is good on the glasses but the reading channel is VERY narrow before text becomes blurry and there is heavy swimming effect. After doing more research, Esillor states they have 3 different fittings…Design, Fit, and 4D. My vendor used the least accurate method and it appears I needed a 4D fitting on the Visioffice terminal which they do noy own. How do I get this corrected!

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    • Wow there’s a lot to unpack here. First thing I would say is that fitting pilots is possibly the most challenging type of patient there is. Not because you are exceptionally picky, but because the placement of instrumentation can cause havoc on progressives.

      First things first. I would honestly say that the standard X design is better than the more advanced lens versions in most cases. I have not fit a 4D or Fit lens in years from any of their lens family. The vision can be impeccable with these more advanced lenses but only if they remain optimally adjusted at all times.

      My first thought for you, if you are comfortable with contacts a multi focal solution like B&L Ultra for presbyopia. The big issue for contacts in flying is that the recirculated air can dry out the lenses terribly and deteriorate your clarity rapidly over time.

      If you are experiencing swim and a small reading area I suspect adjusting the pantoscopic tilt of the frames should help quite a bit.

      What type of flying do you do?

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  4. Pingback: Review Update on Varilux X Design | The Optical Jedi: a guide to the mysteries of glasses

  5. Is this Varilux X Lens any wider in the intermediate and reading areas than the Zeiss Premium? And, does the distance area go all the way across?

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    • I have not worn the Zeiss Premium but I have done the Zeiss Individual II and Zeiss Drivesafe. I would say that The X is wider than Individual but the Drivesafe is wider in the intermediate. But the Drivesafe has a very small reading zone (intentionally so but still small).

      The distance area is partially narrowed. I have had wider distance zones but not necessarily wider in both intermediate and near

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    • I would strongly recommend AGAINST ordering anything online but most especially multifocals. Lens placement in front of the eye is critical for a successful experience and online tools cannot do this accurately

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  6. I’m an ABO certified optician and just got my first pair of Varilux X lenses two days ago but I’ve been wearing progressives for over 15 years. I am slightly nearsighted with astigmatism and wear a +2.50 add which is on the strong side. I have the standard Varilux X.

    Personally, I find the distance area to be excellent. It’s reasonably clear even when I look through the side areas of the top. I find the intermediate and near are widths to be similar to my other progressives but I don’t need to adjust my head quite as much. They aren’t wide but they are placed so perfectly my eyes find them very easily and comfortably.

    No progressives have near and intermediate areas that go all the way across. The stronger the add correction the narrower the areas will be.

    As for computer work- a lot of issues are because computer monitors are usually too high. Remember that when you look straight ahead you will be in the distance area. So if you are looking straight ahead at the monitor you will have to raise your chin to see the screen. This is not the fault of the lenses- it’s the fault of the monitor placement. Ideally your eyes should be no lower then the top of the screen. You should be able to look down slightly thru the intermediate channel of the lense to see the screen.

    They do make monitors that adjust up and down and these are very helpful. Otherwise have the monitor as low as possible and your seat as high as possible. Since the channel area of progressives aren’t very wide it’s extremely important that they be fit correctly. If they are off just a little in pupil distance or height they won’t work well.

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  7. Hi, I have been trying to get used to my new Essilor X glasses, they make me feel sick and unsteady on my feet every time I wear them, presumably this is the swimming effect I have read above. Every review says the new X series is wonderful, yet I’m finding them yet truly awful. I purchased my new glasses from a Colchester optician that I have been using for years, they are exactly the same shape, frame style and prescription of my previous 1.67 Essilor VX Physio 2.0 stylis short Transitions that I have been wearing for 5 years, and that took no real adapting to. When I picked my new Essilor X glasses up I asked the dispenser for the guarantee card that should go with my new glasses, he said they did not have one and that Essilor glasses do not always come with one, is this correct? I asked the dispenser to write down what my new lenses were, he did this very very reluctantly, and from what he wrote it is not clear exactly which lenses I have brought, so I’m still not entirely sure what I have paid nearly £900 for. Have there been any issues with these new lenses, or am I the only one with problems with them?

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    • Hi Shirley,

      Thank you for responding to my post. I wish I could speak to what guarantees may be possible in the UK, but I’m not familiar with the rules and laws that apply in your nation. I would say that anywhere in the US where you get progressive lenses, you are afforded the opportunity to switch the lens to another design if you cannot adapt.

      you mentioned that you were wearing a short progressive previously. I could see how this might possibly be the issue you are facing. Depending on the dimensions of the frame, switching to an X Design could end up moving where your reading zone is located and thus impact the nausea or swimminess you might feel. If you’d like to email me a photo or any other information about your glasses I’d be happy to take a closer look.

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