The lens material you choose for your sunglasses — even more than frames — often will determine how happy you are with your eyewear.

It might sound simple, but buying sunglasses with more than adequate lenses is not an easy task. In fact, in a recent issue, Consumer Reports magazine said, “There are so many choices for lenses and coatings, it’s easy to be confused about what’s worth buying.

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Today, we will help you understand different types of lenses so that you choose sunglasses and coatings that offer the best features and value for your needs.

Why choosing the right lens material is so important

When buying sunglasses, the important thing to understand is that the lenses you choose, whatever they may be, should be influenced by these four factors: appearance, comfort, vision, and safety.

A common mistake people often make when buying sunglasses is that we do not spend enough time considering their choices of lens materials, designs, and coatings.

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This article will give you the basics you need to know about lens materials and their benefits.

Sunglass lens materials – features and benefits

Glass

Glass is, without a doubt, the best lens material there is – that is when we talk about its ability to provide exceptional vision. Natural glass is scratch-resistant and can be cleaned very easily; It is true that they weigh more and are more sensitive to falls because they can be fragmented, but lenses made from glass provide much sharper vision than any other lens material on this list.

Nowadays, fashion companies do not usually opt for this material when designing their glasses; however, Ray-Ban does continue to manufacture 80% of its collections with crystals/glass. 

Plastic lenses

In 1947, the Armorlite Lens Company in California introduced the first lightweight plastic eyeglass lenses. The lenses were made of a plastic polymer called CR-39, an abbreviation for “Columbia Resin 39,” because it was the 39th formulation of a thermal-cured plastic developed by PPG Industries in the early 1940s.

Because of its lightweight (about half the weight of glass), low cost, and excellent optical qualities, CR-39 plastic remains a popular material for eyeglass lenses even today.

Some disadvantages of using plastic lenses include: They scratch easily and much more quickly than glass. Not only is the dirt on the lenses visible, but they are a little more complicated to clean. Tous, Vogue, Arnette, Sunski are among the few sunglasses giants who choose to fashion their line of glasses using plastic lenses.

Polycarbonate 

Lenses made from polycarbonate are the lightest and yet the most resistant to impacts. The technology with which they are manufactured allows us to use them for sports. Polycarbonate lenses can survive the impact of a steel ball traveling at 160 kilometers per hour without shattering, making it a fantastic choice for low-energy impact resistance.

Did you know: Polycarbonate lenses are 10 times more impact resistant than plastic or glass lenses.

Although the vision is not as clear as what the glass can provide, elite athletes choose them because of the multitude of advantages they offer: lightness, hardness, adaptability, technology, clear vision. Many Adidas and Oakley models are made with polycarbonate lenses.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Polycarbonate lenses

Nylon

Very few sunglass companies prefer to manufacture sunglasses that feature Nylon as their lens material. One of the strongest lens materials you’ll find in the market, Nylon lenses have good elasticity and excellent optical quality, but the impact performance is not as good as the one provided by Polycarbonate lenses.

Brands like Riviera Shades use Nylon lenses, formulating a good combination between exceptional lens quality and excellent frame material such as acetate and stainless steel. 

Conclusion

Buying sunglasses can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. You should always choose the glasses that best suit your daily activities. If you’re an athlete, then buying sunglasses with glass lens material will be quite problematic. The right choice would be to go for a strong frame and lens material (Nylon or Polycarbonate.)

For more advice on which lens and frame material would provide you with greater advantages, consult and expert optometrist.

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