Sunglasses with polycarbonate lenses offer lightness, shock resistance, and ultraviolet protection, but why are they the number one choice of today’s optometrists? You might have heard of polycarbonate lenses before, but there are things that you should know before you buy them. 

A promising story about Polycarbonate

Originally designed for the cockpit cover of warplanes, polycarbonate provided the pilots with superior vision and impact resistance that helped them fly across the blue skies. In the 1970s, the popularity of Polycarbonate took flight (literally) into outer space when NASA began using it in helmet visors for space shuttle astronauts and windshields.

NASA Astronaut Wearing Polycarbonate Visor Helmet

Polycarbonate was presented to consumers in the 1980s as a safe and accessible alternative to traditional plastic and glass lens. Later, glasses featuring Polycarbonate began mass manufacturing in response to a demand for light and impact-resistant lenses.

What makes Polycarbonate a better option compared to other lens materials?

This might sound like advertised praise to you, but the truth is that Polycarbonate lenses are up to 10 times more resistant to shock than conventional plastic or glass lenses. They are usually thinner and lighter than normal organic lenses and not only that, but they also provide almost 100% protection against ultraviolet rays making them one of the best options to go for when choosing the right lenses for your glasses.

Also called the WONDER-PLASTIC, Polycarbonate material constitutes an excellent alternative to the TAC and glass lens. Widely accepted for its durability, Polycarbonate outperforms the FDA’s basic requirements for impact resistance, exceeding standard figures by more than 40 times.

The tolerance and resistance of Polycarbonate lenses is much higher than any conventional organic material, and this is one of the reasons why they are highly recommended for outdoor and rimless glasses significantly reducing the risk of cracks or breaks in the lens.

Studies and test have shown polycarbonate lenses to be the toughest. There are demonstrations online that show someone driving a nail through the lenses with no cracks surrounding it. The lenses prove to be so tough, that in order for a nail to even begin to penetrate, a board must be placed behind the lens. This shows you the power that is involved with this material.

Sport Polarized Sunglasses and Athletic Wear

What makes Polycarbonate the safest lens option?

Compared to other materials, the difference in the production process makes the Polycarbonate lens stronger and much more resistant to shock. Most other plastic lenses use a molding process which requires a liquid plastic material to be melted for a prolonged period. This is repeated until the liquid solidifies and the lens takes shape.

Polycarbonate, on the other hand, is a thermoplastic material that is produced by the condensation polymerization between bisphenol A and either carbonyl chloride or diphenyl carbonate. The first stage of manufacturing the polycarbonate lenses begins from a solid source, eliminating the molding process, using instead a process called injection molding, during which the particles are heated to the point of casting.

Once in a liquid state, the polycarbonate is injected into the molds of the lenses. At that stage of the process, the lens molds are compressed under pressure and cooled to form the finished lenses in a matter of minutes.

Polycarbonate lens has a variety of uses in sports and safety these days. Some examples include:

  • Indoor sports where the risk of impacts or blows is high, as in the case of squash where protective glasses should always be worn although no graduation is required.
  • If you have graduation and no contact lenses are being used – They are also a very good option for sports spectacles such as in basketball, handball, futsal, etc. since they ensure that the glass does not splinter when it takes a hit, avoiding any damage to the eyes.
  • Outdoor sports where Polycarbonate lenses can provide ultraviolet protection  and impact resistance (mountain biking, cycling, mountaineering, skiing, hunting or clay pigeon shooting, etc.).
  • It is widely used in glasses made for safety or work protection although for certain trades or professions (welders, workers who use radial, etc.) Many specific eye protection accessories are currently available for polycarbonate visors that professionals like gardeners, firemen, and police can use.

Disadvantages of Polycarbonate lenses

There are a few drawbacks to the use of polycarbonate lenses in proportion to their benefits, but it is good to take them into account before you make a choice.

  • The biggest drawback of Polycarbonate lenses is that they scratch more easily than those made from natural organic material. This can be resolved in part by incorporating a hardening treatment that should always be offered as essential. 
  • Another point you should keep in mind is that the optical quality of the Polycarbonate lenses is somewhat lower than that of the low index organic lenses. This is, so that chromatic aberration (the appearance of colored shadows around the objects) becomes more evident when looking through the lateral ends of this type of lens. We are talking about some minimal differences that can be resolved with the incorporation of optimized and customized lens designs.
4 Polarized Sunglasses on The Sand

Are Polycarbonate Lenses Worth It?

Yes! Polycarbonate lenses will save you time and money in the long run. Make the investment now to reap the polycarbonate eyeglasses benefits later. You can find numerous brands that use Polycarbonate in the manufacturing of sunglass lens so if you’re ever shopping for a stylish pair of glasses for yourself, just go online and you will find plenty of help.

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