Anybody who has shopped for glasses knows the mirror is unavoidable. There are so many styles– and so many different faces– how could someone decide on a pair without seeing their reflection? While that holds true for frames, the lenses of your eyewear are another matter entirely. Consult the following information on lens quality & cost next time you buy a new pair of glasses.
- Glass: The original lens. Heavy and breakable. Rarely used nowadays.
- Plastic: Lightweight and low-cost. Widely used from 1950s to present day.
- Polycarbonate: Developed for safety & protection. Even lighter and more durable than plastic. Extremely popular.
- High-index plastic: Thinnest lens available. Lighter than traditional plastic.
COATINGS & TREATMENTS
Anti-scratch coating: Glass is very difficult to scratch, but it is hardly ever used for glasses since consumer demand has led to lighter and thinner products. Unfortunately, lighter and thinner means more susceptible to scratches and scuffs. Damaged lenses means poor vision, so almost all optometrists recommend that anti-scratch coating be applied to any new pair of glasses. Warranties may also be offered for kids and those who can be rough on eyewear.
Anti-reflective coating: Reflections are a significant cause of discomfort and annoyance to glasses-wearers. When your lenses catch reflections or glare, it can cause distraction, reduce night vision and can even ruin photographs. Anti-reflective coatings eliminate glare and make lenses almost entirely invisible to the wearer. High-index plastic is light and thin, but it can cause even worse reflections than traditional plastic.
UV blocking treatment: It’s widely known that ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage your vision over the course of your life. If you are concerned with avoiding cataracts or macular degeneration in old age, ensure your eyewear is treated for UV protection. Some materials– such as polycarbonate and almost all high-index plastic– are already completely UV proof. Others, usually cheaper materials like lower quality plastic, require a treatment to properly protect you from UV rays.
Photochromic treatment: Widely advertised, but a considerable investment. Photochromic lenses darken in sunny or bright environments, and then lighten to clear or near transparent when indoors. Available in almost all materials and designs, photochromic-treated lenses are very convenient for those looking to avoid the extra cost of prescription sunglasses or contact lenses.
Need help deciding? Consult with our professionals at the Vision Gallery to find the best lens for your needs.