Eyeglass Lens Materials
In the beginning all eyeglass lenses were made with glass. While it offered superior optical quality, they were often heavy and uncomfortable to wear. Through the years, plastic lenses were introduced; they weren’t as heavy or as thick as glass lens. Plastic lenses are the most popular eyeglass lens material in the US, accounting for more than 50% of lenses sold.
In recent years, an even thinner and lighter version of the plastic lens has been developed called high index lens. These high index lenses are made with a material that has a higher index of refraction than regular glass or plastic lenses. These high index lenses are also available in both glass and plastic lenses.
Here is a look at the different kinds of eyeglasses lens material along with their accompanying strengths and features:
High Index Plastic
The best choice if you are looking for the thinnest and lightest material for your lenses. It will cost more if you want your high index plastic lens to be thinner but this may be a small price to pay considering its weight. Most high index plastic lenses offer 100% UV protection.
High Index Glass
These are on the delicate side as some of them do not meet the U.S. FDA’s impact resistance standard. It is also heavier than its plastic counterpart and despite it being excellent against scratches, high index glass lenses only account for less than 2 percent in U.S. sales.
This remains to be the most popular type of lens in the U.S. as it is the most economical choice when it comes to eyeglasses lens material. It has excellent optical quality and you can easily have the lens tinted to make it UV resistant.
If you can tolerate the heaviness and thickness of glass lens, you may consider this for its excellent optical quality. It is durable and most scratch-resistant of all the other types. Less than 8% of eyeglass lenses sold are made of glass.
If you want light lenses that are impact resistant and safe, this may be the best choice for you. It is used primarily for safety purposes, in children eyeglasses and goggles and offers 100% UV protection. It is the second most bought type of eyeglass lenses in the U.S. with 20% of all sales being polycarbonate.
Remember that when it comes to picking the pair of eyeglasses that is perfect for you, the assistance of an optical expert is required.