Eyeglasses Lens Guide

Types of Eyeglsses Lens

  • Clear Lenses
    These clear lenses are made of polycarbonate. These lenses are a great, affordable option for children and those who spend lots of time outdoors. Hi-index lenses are one of them. High-index lenses(Refractive Index 1.56 to1.74) bend light better, which causes them to be made with less material, and therefore, they're thinner in the end. 
  • Tinted Lenses
    A good tinted lens protects your eyes against UV radiation. They can also give you a high-contrast vision experience even in glaring or diffuse light. Tinted lenses can filter the blue light radiation down to the optimum level. 
  • Anti-blue Light Lenses
    Blue light blocking glasses have specially crafted lenses that are said to block or filter out the blue light given off from digital screens. The lenses claim to protect your eyes from glare and can help reduce potential damage to your retina from prolonged exposure to blue light.
  • Photochromic Lenses
    Sunlight changes these from clear to tinted. You may no longer need sunglasses, although they may not darken in your car if the windshield blocks UV rays. They can be either glass or plastic.
  • Polarized Lenses
    These lenses reduce glare from a surface like water, so they’re great for sports and driving. But they can make it hard to see the liquid crystal display on your car’s dashboard.

Comparing Lens Materials

Lens MaterialRefractive IndexAbbe ValueKey Features and Benefits
High-index plastics1.70 to 1.7436 (1.70)
33 (1.74)
The thinnest lenses available.
Block 100 percent UV.
Lightweight.
High-index plastics1.60 to 1.6736 (1.60)
32 (1.67)
Thin and lightweight.
Block 100 percent UV.
Less costly than 1.70-1.74 high-index lenses.
Tribrid1.6041Thin and lightweight.
Significantly more impact-resistant than CR-39 plastic and high-index plastic lenses (except polycarbonate and Trivex).
Higher Abbe value than polycarbonate.
Downside: Not yet available in a wide variety of lens designs.
Polycarbonate1.58630Superior impact resistance.
Blocks 100 percent UV.
Lighter than high-index plastic lenses.
Trivex1.5445Superior impact resistance.
Blocks 100 percent UV.
Higher Abbe value than polycarbonate.
Lightest lens material available.
CR-39 plastic1.49858Excellent optics.
Low cost.
Downside: thickness.
Crown glass1.52359Excellent optics.
Low cost.
Downsides: heavy, breakable.

Single Vision vs Bifocal vs Progressive Lenses

Single Vision Lenses

Pros

  • Most affordable lens type.
  • Used to correct nearsightedness and farsightedness.
  • Typically no adjustment period needed to get used to.

Cons

  • Correction for only one vision depth, Either near or far.
  • Costs can rise surprisingly high depending on lens material & prescription strength.

Best For

  • Nearly anyone under the age of 40.
  • Those only needing to correct nearsighted or farsighted vision.
  • Ordinary over-the-counter reading glasses.

Costs

  • A broad range from $5 – $500 depending on lens material, index (thickness), lens coatings, and brands.

Bifocal Lenses

Pros

  • The 2-in-1 lens provides both close-up & distance vision correction.
  • Cost effective solution for multiple vision depths.
  • Relatively cheap, especially compared to progressive lenses.

Cons

  • Distinct, non-discrete line & half circle shaped near vision lens.
  • Image jump when transitioning from distance to near vision & back again.

Best For

  • Anyone already wearing glasses & needing reading glasses as well.
  • Those that want vision correction for multiple depths at a reasonable price.
  • Someone who requires reading glasses but doesn’t want to purchase & carry a second pair.

Costs

  • Typically $20 – $50 more than single vision lenses.

Progressive Lenses

Pros

  • The 3-in-1 lens provides near, mid, and long distance vision correction.
  • Eliminate the need to switch between multiple pairs of glasses.
  • No visible lines on the lens for a seamless transition between the 3 zones.

Cons

  • Adjustment period needed to train yourself on using the three different vision areas.
  • New users can feel dizzy or nauseous until they get used to them.
  • Considerably more expensive than single vision or even bifocal lenses.

Best For

  • Anyone that desires discrete vision correction for distance, near, and everything in between.
  • Those that want a seamless transition, no visible lines in the lens.
  • Someone who requires reading glasses but doesn’t want to purchase & carry a second pair.

Costs

  • Typically $50 – $500 more than single vision lenses.

Eyeglass Lens Coatings

  • Anti-reflective.
    An anti-reflective (AR) coating makes all eyeglass lenses better. AR coatings eliminate reflections in lenses that reduce contrast and clarity, especially at night. They also make your lenses nearly invisible, so you can make better eye contact and you and others aren't distracted by reflections in your lenses. AR-coated lenses are also much less likely to have glare spots in photographs.

    Anti-reflective coating is especially important if you choose high-index lenses. This is because the higher the refractive index of a lens material, the more light the lenses reflect. Some high-index lenses reflect up to 50% more light than CR-39 lenses, causing significantly more glare. AR coating eliminates these annoying reflections.

  • Anti-scratch.
    All lightweight eyeglass lens materials have surfaces that are significantly softer and more prone to scratches and abrasions than glass lenses. Plastic, polycarbonate, Trivex and high-index plastic lenses all require a factory-applied anti-scratch coating for adequate lens durability.

    Most of today's modern anti-scratch coatings (also called scratch coats or hard coats) can make lightweight eyeglass lenses nearly as scratch-resistant as glass lenses. But if you're hard on your glasses or you're buying eyeglasses for your kids, ask about adding an anti-scratch warranty to your eyeglass lens purchase.

  • UV-blocking treatment.
    Too much exposure to the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can harm your eyes. Over time, this can cause age-related eye problems including cataracts and macular degeneration.

    For this reason, people should protect their eyes from UV beginning in early childhood. Polycarbonate and nearly all high-index plastic lenses provide 100% UV protection. If you choose CR-39 plastic lenses, these lenses need a special coating applied to block all UV rays.

  • Tinted lenses.
    Sometimes, a light or dark hint of color on the lens can help you see better. A yellow tint may increase contrast. A gray tint to your sunglasses won't change the colors of things. A light tint can hide signs of aging around your eyes.