What’s the Difference Between Glass Vs Plastic Lenses?

Having a hard time picking a lens material?

Glass Vs Plastic Lenses

Lens material can be a difficult choice when purchasing glasses online, especially if you’ve never done it before. Glass vs plastic lenses, high index vs standard, polycarbonate? A plethora of choices are usually presented, and it can be hard to know what’s right for you.

The two major differences between glass and plastic are weight and scratch resistance. Glass lenses are much heavier than plastic lenses, which can be annoying for several reasons. The added weight on your nose can cause uncomfortable and unattractive pressure points as you wear the glasses all day, and it can also cause the glasses to slide down your face.

The other major difference is scratch resistance. Plastic lenses, while lighter, don’t have the scratch resistance of glass. Scratching glass lenses is a fairly difficult and unlikely thing to do unless you drop them, whereas plastic lenses are fairly easy to scratch, requiring a bit more care in handling.

If you’re trying to decide between plastic vs glass lens materials and don’t know all the differences, here’s what you need to know:

  • Plastic is much lighter than glass, making it more comfortable to wear all day and limiting the glasses’ tendency to slide down your nose.
  • Glass is much more scratch resistant than plastic, making the glasses last longer.
  • Glass lenses are also more brittle than plastic lenses. It is extremely unlikely that you will ever break or crack plastic lenses, but glass lenses are likely to crack, splinter, or shatter if dropped on a hard surface such as concrete or metal.
  • Plastic lenses are less reflective than glass lenses, making them clearer and less prone to glare.
  • Glass lenses generally have a higher index than plastic lenses, making them slightly thinner and more attractive looking.
  • Plastic lenses come in more colors and larger sizes than glass lenses, making them much more versatile. Whereas the frames you can get in glass are limited, you can get virtually any type of frame in prescription with plastic lenses.


Since the creation of the plastic lens, glass lenses are much rarer than plastic when it comes to prescription glasses. The huge reduction in weight and versatility in prescription frames has caused plastic to win out in popularity in the glass vs plastic lens material race.

If you are interested in getting prescription glasses online, hopefully this narrows your choices and gives you a good idea of the differences between glass vs plastic lenses. If you have other questions not answered here, or if you’d like to make a comment on this post, you can leave them in the comments section below. You are also more than welcome to call us if you’re shopping for prescription glasses online and have some unanswered questions. Thanks for reading, and happy shopping!

  1. Alan Lawson says:

    I’m looking at purchasing glass prescription multi-focal lenses. If I have them hardend or toughened will they chip or shell. Or would they shatter

    • Melissa Richard says:

      Since they are glass, if they were hit with a projectile or dropped they will shatter.

  2. Shirley N says:

    I have worn glasses for almost 50 years and I prefer glass lenses as they are easier to care for and are more durable. The one time I had plastic lenses I had the anti-scratch coating added, cleaned them only with the cloth and spray I was given and put them in the case nightly. The result was within 6 months I was back at the optometrists office thinking my eyesight had worsened. It was not my eyes but the coating on the plastic lenses was majorly scratched. Then had to go through the hassle of having the coating removed. My next eye exam I switched back to glass lenses.
    The only draw back to glass lenses is the fact that so few labs make them and it takes a month to get new lenses that are correct.

    • Kai Zook says:

      Hi Shirley,

      Thank you for your feedback on glass & plastic lenses! Glass is a great option for many people because of the scratch resistance and superior clarity. We offer glass lenses in many of our frames because we love the high quality that glass lenses provide.

  3. J. Ganjkhani says:

    Based on my experience, glass lenses are superior to plastic lenses in clarity and quality and plus they are not that heavy. In reality, the only advantage of plastic lenses is their weight and nothing more. I have worn glass lenses for about 25 years and have broken them only once, which is no big deal (they fell off my hand). I tried plastic lenses and I couldn’t tolerate them at all. They gave me blurred vision. I highly recommend glass lenses.

  4. Jane A. says:

    I am near-sighted. Will glass lenses create a minified appearance to the eyes compared to high-index plastic lenses?

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