While the use of glass as a vision aid has been around since 1000AD, the first pair of wearable glass aids dates back to about 1284. These devices of convex-shaped glass surrounded by crude frames proved helpful in magnifying letters for the aged, and a new technology was born. The very term we use to this day, “eyeglasses,” derives from a simple description of the invention.
We’ve made a lot of progress in the industry in the last seven centuries, including the development of plastic and polycarbonate lenses, and glass lenses now account for less than 3% of the eyewear market. The main reason for this startling transition is that plastic lenses are much lighter than their glass counterparts. Glass lenses are also more prone to breakage during everyday use.
Despite this precipitous drop in popularly, glass hasn’t completely disappeared from the eyeglass industry, and the ages-old material continues to earn its keep. Glass allows for a higher index than plastic, so certain high-index prescriptions are not available in plastic form. Glass lenses feature far better scratch resistance than plastic lenses, and in terms of optics and clarity, glass cannot be beat.
Before deciding that plastic or polycarbonate is the only way to go, take a quick look at the various advantages and disadvantages of glass lenses.
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