You have just seen your eye doctor, you now have your prescription, you go to pick out a set of frames you like. After searching for just the right style, color and comfort, you find frames that you absolutely adore. They fit just within your budget. The optician fits them and you are ready to check out.
But wait! Now your optician starts asking about what kind of lenses you want for your new prescription glasses. Huh? Any good optician worth their salt will be able to explain the different kinds of lenses and what they do based on your personal preferences. But just for your own information so that you are not completely blindsided by completely new words and information, here is a list of common lens styles and add ons that your eye doctor or optician might bring up:
Glass vs polycarbonate - This has to do with the material in which your lens is made. Polycarbonate is a type of plastic, but is an impact resistant lens used in most safety glasses and 90% of glasses for kids. Although glass may be more scratch resistant, it is not used as much as polycarbonate lenses because it is noticeably heavier than polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate is the material used by the military in their eye wear because it is unmatched in its durability and weight.
Your eye doctor or optician is likely to suggest a glass lens for your eye glasses if you prioritize clarity and want something more scratch resistant.
Your eye doctor or optician is likely to suggest a polycarbonate lens for your eye glasses if you want something lighter, or if you tend to drop your eye glasses, as polycarbonate is more impact resistant. Your eye doctor or optician is very likely to suggest polycarbonate lenses for your kids.
Plastic or CR-39 - Plastic is one of the most inexpensive lenses on the market today. The plastic lens is actually named CR-39 which is an abbreviation for “Columbia Resin #39", which was the 39th formula of a thermosetting plastic developed by the Columbia Resins project in 1940. Plastic lenses are not as light or scratch resistant as polycarbonate, plastic lenses have one of the clearest optics, second only to glass.
Your eye doctor or optician is likely to suggest a plastic or CR-39 lens for your eye glasses if you prioritize clarity, but are concerned about the price of a glass lens.
Trivex - Trivex is a thin light weight lenses like polycarbonate, and are impact resistant lenses. The biggest difference is how they are made, which has big scary words like “urethane-based monomer,” “thermoplastic,” “cast molding process,” and “injection molding.” These are just fancy words for the way trivex and polycarbonate lenses are made. Trivex is made similarly to plastic lenses so they have the spectacular optical quality, but they have the scratch resistance and impact resistance much like polycarbonate lenses. Trivex is like the best of both worlds. The only real drawback is that it’s a little more limited in the strength of the lenses. That means if you have a stronger prescription this lens may not work for you but fear not, our amazing opticians can help you find the best lens for your eye wear.
Your eye doctor or optician is likely to suggest trivex for the clarity, unless your prescription requires a thicker lens. For those that are not already aware, the stronger prescription you have, the thicker your eye glass lens will be.
Mid-Index and High-Index - These lenses range from an index of 1.60 to 1.74. These numbers can be scary and confusing but really your optician will help you determine if you need these lenses and which one is best for you. These lenses can be used for any prescription but are most often used for medium strong to very strong prescriptions. These lenses will offer very clear optics almost as good as plastic, CR-39 lenses, and help people get the thinnest lenses for those stronger prescriptions so you don't have the “Coke-bottle” lens the people are so afraid of.
Your eye doctor or optician is likely to suggest getting a mid-index or high-index lens for those with a stronger prescription to help reduce the thickness of the lens.
Anti-reflective or non-Glare - This is the lens treatment that is done to the lens so you don’t see the glare on your lenses, or helps cut the glare from reflective surfaces. This helps to reduce eye strain and eye pain. Any good optician will do whatever it takes to get you into a pair of glasses that has anti-reflective on it because it makes a huge difference. Fun fact, if you use mid-index or high-index lenses you should always have anti-reflective lenses because those lenses are so compact that they let a lot more light into your eyes including the light that causes eye pain and eye strain.
Myths about Anti-reflective-
“Anti-reflective lenses scratch easier.” FALSE! Scratches will show up more on anti-reflective lense but they don’t scratch easier. With proper care your glasses shouldn't scratch, unless you are in a sand storm. But the scratch resistance of an anti-reflective lens is based on the lens material used before the anti-reflective is applied.
“The anti-reflective coating peels off so easily.” FALSE! Anti-reflective treatments do not peel off. The scratch coating is what peels off, and this happens in 1 of 2 ways:
The hard coating was defective. If this is the case, this will happen within a few months of the purchase of the glasses.
The lenses have very deep scratches that caused the lenses and the hard coat to separate from each other. With proper care this should not happen. Your optician can teach you how to care for your glasses properly.
“Anti-reflective lenses have the bright blue reflections on the lenses.” FALSE! That bright blue reflection is the blue light filter that protects your eyes from the harmful blue light that is emitted from all electronic devices. Real anti-reflective lenses will have a very faint purple or green reflection under direct light but it is not very noticeable.
Many eye doctors and opticians are likely to suggest getting an anti-reflective coating to all of their patients in order to reduce glare and strain in their eye glasses, which is better for your overall eye health.
Blue light - Blue light is a real thing and is both good and bad. Most people do not know this, but most of our blue light exposure comes from the sun. The sun gives us good natural blue light. The artificial blue light is the bad kind. This is the blue light we get from computers, televisions, and all mobile devices. Even if you have a blue light filter on your screen you are still being exposed to artificial blue light. Artificial blue light is one of the lights that cause eye pain and eye strain but most importantly, it stops the natural production of melatonin in your body so your body does not wind down naturally. People who suffer from insomnia oftentimes are exposed to too much blue light. Blue light glasses will help you filter that light out so your body can naturally produce melatonin.
Your eye doctor is likely to suggest a blue light filter in your eye glasses if you are experiencing a lot of eye strain and work on a computer all day.