With the introduction of computers into the workplace over 20 years ago, Optometrists began to see an increasing need for a spectacle lens which could allow clear vision at both a close and intermediate range. In response to this need, the first "extended focus" lenses became available in the Australian Optical market.

Computer screens were typically positioned on a workers desk top at approximately arms length away. Traditional single vision reading lenses generally focussed at too short a distance for clarity to be achieved at the computer. Bifocal lenses provided clarity up close and in the distance but offered no correction for the intermediate range.

Extended focus lenses addressed the issue by having the full reading prescription in the lower zone of the lens and an "extended reading" or intermediate prescription in the upper zone of lens. The two zones were smoothly blended with a graduation from one prescription to the other and no visible dividing line. Having a blend of reading and intermediate corrections allowed for clear vision both at near and at screen distance. In essence it was like a simplified multifocal lens.

Over the years computers and workspaces have evolved many times and there is no longer a "typical" desk/screen setup. It is now common to have multiple screens, standing workstations, laptops or tablets and everything in between. Luckily extended focus (or vocational as they are commonly called) lenses have also evolved and adapted to our ever changing needs. Advancements in lens design and grinding technology have allowed for the creation of wider optical zones and more flexibility with control over the working distances within the lens. We now have more flexibility with the way we prescribe extended focus lenses to better suit your individual workspace and visual needs.

Lens coatings have also evolved to be more scratch resistant, easier to clean and incorporate blue light filters. Blue light protective coatings are beneficial on extended focus lenses due to the high levels of blue light produced by modern screens. Click here to find out more about the effects of blue light.

"But I don't use a computer so I don't need extended focus lenses" you say?

Extended focus lenses can be beneficial for so many other lifestyle situations. If you do any of the following, extended focus lenses could be right for you:

  • Cooking or baking where you need to read a recipe but also need to see around the kitchen?
  • Play bridge or other card games where you need to focus on the cards in your hand but also see the players sitting across from you?
  • Attend meetings where you have papers to read but need to see the other people across the room or a presentation?
  • At TAFE or Uni and attend lectures or tutorials where you can only see the board if you are the front of the lecture hall or class?
  • Play music, whether professionally or just for yourself where you need to see your sheet music and the conductor or other musicians?
  • Painter or artist where you have different points of focus?
  • Tradesperson where you have small things to focus on and need clarity of vision for, but you are also walking around or looking around the room?
  • Retail worker where you have to work the register but also are looking across the store?
  • Beautician or hairdresser looking up close and in the mirror or across the room?


Your Abernethy Owens Optometrist will work with you to analyse your particular working habits and lifestyle to advise if extended focus lenses will be beneficial for you