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What lenses should I choose for my glasses?

What lenses should I choose for my glasses

While the hardest part of ordering glasses is the choice of glasses, the lenses you choose often will determine how happy you are with your eyewear. It may seem confusing as there are so many choices for lenses and coatings, it's easy to be confused about what's worth buying.

We created a buyers guide that will navigate you and explain the different types of eyeglass lenses and help you choose lenses and coatings that offer the best features, value and benefits for your needs.

Choosing the Right Eyeglasses Lenses

When purchasing eyeglasses frames, the frame you choose is important to your appearance and to your comfort when wearing glasses. The eyeglass lenses you choose help benefit in the appearance, your comfort, your vision and safety. There is a common mistake people make when purchasing eyeglasses is not fully understanding the choices of eyeglass lens materials, designs and coatings.

Eyeglasses Lens Materials

  • Plastic Lenses - aka "CR39" - Its light weight, low cost and excellent optical qualities, CR-39 plastic remains a popular material for eyeglass lenses.
  • Polycarbonate Lenses - It was originally made for helmet visors for the Air Force, as well as the protective covering on plains in WWII. It was also made for "bulletproof glass" for banks and other safety applications. Polycarbonate is lighter and up to 10 times more impact-resistant than CR-39 plastic, making it a preferred material for children's eyewear, safety glasses and sports and recreational glasses.
  • High-index plastic lenses. In response to the demand for thinner and lighter eyeglasses, high-index thin and light lenses were created. These lenses are thinner and lighter than CR-39 plastic lenses because they have a higher index of refraction.

Lens Material Index Features & Benefits

CR-39 Plastic

1.50

Pros: Great Optics, Low Cost

Cons: Thickest Option

Polycarbonate Lenses

1.59

Pros: Superior impact resistance, 100% UV Block Protection, Lighter than High Index Plastic Lenses

Cons: Thicker than High Index Plastic Lenses

High Index Plastics

1.60 to 1.67

Pros: Thin & Lightweight, Block 100% UV, Costs less than 1.74 Index Lens.

Cons: Less impact resistant than polycarbonate lenses.

High Index Plastics

1.74

Pros: Thinnest Lens Available, Blocks 100% UV, Lightweight

Cons: Most expensive Lens, Not available with all coatings and tints.

Eyeglass Lens Treatments and Coatings

  • Anti-Scratch Coating - All lightweight eyeglass lens materials have surfaces that are more prone to scratches. The lens that is most impact-resistant (polycarbonate), is also the one most prone to scratches. All plastic, high-index plastic and polycarbonate lenses require a factory-applied anti-scratch coating for lens durability.
  • Anti Reflective Coating (AR) - AR coatings eliminate reflections in lenses that reduce contrast and clarity, especially at night. They also make your lenses nearly invisible. AR-coated lenses are also much less likely to have glare spots in photographs. Anti-reflective coating is really important if you choose a high-index lens since they reflect more light on the lens which causes more glare.
  • Photochromic/Light Adjusting Treatment - This lens treatment enables eyeglass lenses to darken automatically in response to the sun's UV, and then quickly return to clear (or nearly clear) when you go back indoors.
  • Blue Light / Blue Cut Lens - This treatment along with a special blue cut lens, significantly reduces blue UV light that you get from staring at your computer screen or other electronic devices. Blue light can cause your eyes to be irritable and can impact the way you sleep.
  • Tint/Gradient Lens - Turn any pair of eyeglasses into sunglasses. You can get different color tints which offer UV protection from the sun as well as darkening lens which allow you to see clearer when outdoors. Gradient is when the top half of the lens is darker and gradually gets lighter on the lower half of the lens.
  • Polarized Lens - Polarized tints have special glare-reducing features that standard tints don’t. If you find that your eyes are hampered by glare from the sun bouncing off bright, light surfaces, then this feature would be a great choice for you. It increases visual comfort, since your eyes aren't constantly challenged by glare. It is also easier to view objects in bright conditions. Enhances clarity of vision and contrast for ground level objects and for seeing into water.
  • Mirrored Lens - Mirrored lens are lens with a reflective coating (called a mirror coating or flash coating) on the outside of the lenses to make them appear like small mirrors. The lenses typically give the wearer's vision of a tint of whatever the color the tint may be, in most cases brown or grey.