Are Glass Lenses Better Than Plastic Lenses?

When it comes to choosing a new pair of glasses, what are your most important choices? You’re probably thinking about options for your frame colors and materials, as well as the overall style. But sometimes, it makes sense to start the answer to that question with the basics.

Think for a moment about the core function of your glasses. Unless you wear the purely for style purposes, you probably need them to aid your vision. In other words, it’s the lens that is core to making them either function well or become unusable.

That’s why this article will focus exclusively on finding the right lens for your new pair of glasses. Style matters, of course. But without the right lens, even the best-looking glasses will not mean much as they sit around unused because they give you headaches or don’t allow you to see clearly.

When it comes to your lenses, you have a number of choices. But ultimately, it comes down to a simple question that follows up on the above: what material should you pick? Stated differently, are glass lenses actually better than plastic lenses? The answer to that question is complex, so let’s examine each option in more detail.

The Benefits of Glass Lenses

First, it’s important to understand just why so many people continue to choose glass lenses. This is the original option; before plastic alternative became en vogue, all eyewear was based on and built around glass lenses. Until today, their core benefits continue to be in effect. Some of these benefits include:

  • More durability, as eyewear with glass lenses typically has a longer shelf life than plastic lenses.
  • Better vision, because glass lenses are not affected by UV light that can add a film to plastic lenses and make them unusable over time.
  • Greater scratch resistance, which is especially important if you consider the various ways (such as dust and a dirty cleaning cloth) that can scratch your glasses.
  • Less costs, especially compared to some highly advanced plastic lenses that can drive up the price in multiple ways.

For these reasons, glass lenses continue to be popular. From safety glasses to sunglasses, these lenses help you make sure that you see better, without breaking the bank both immediately and for a potential replacement.

Understanding the Alternative of Plastic Lenses


Glass lenses, in other words, come with a wide range of advantages that seem to make the answer to the above question obvious. Of course, a more durable, clearer, and less expensive option for your eyewear would be the better choice, correct?

It can be, but not necessarily. That’s because over the last few years, plastic lenses have become advanced enough to make them a legitimate competitor when it comes to providing quality eyewear for individuals of all ages and in all populations. More specifically, some of the benefits of plastic lenses when compared to their glass counterparts include:

  • Plastic lenses tend to be thinner than their glass counterpart, which is especially important for higher-level prescriptions.
  • Plastic lenses break less frequently, which means you can feel more safely that they’ll survive even if you drop them once or twice.
  • Plastic lenses weigh less than their glass counterparts, in large part because they can be thinner as mentioned above.
  • Plastic lenses tend to reflect less light than glass lenses, reducing the glare that bright night lights and evening sun can provide.

Within the realm of plastic lenses, a number of alternatives exist. The most common is called CR 39, but only comes with some of the benefits mentioned above. A more durable material, polycarbonate, is the biggest competitor with glass lenses in terms of quality but will also cost more.

Make no mistake: plastic lenses are a viable alternative to glass lenses. Both are ultimately good choices, which brings us back to the original question. Are glass lenses actually better than plastic lenses?

The Final Answer: It Depends

Read through the above sections again. One thing becomes abundantly clear: there is no silver bullet when it comes to finding the perfect pair of eyeglasses. Both glass and plastic (CR 39 as well as polycarbonate provide their own benefit that, depending on your situation, may or may not be the variable that swings the pendulum one way or the other.

So instead of providing a simplistic answer that does not necessarily apply to you, let’s take a different approach. Here are some situations in which one of these lens material alternatives significantly outperforms the other.

  • For glasses with extended lifetime, choose glass lenses. If you don’t anticipate your prescription changing significantly over the next few years, it will be the better investment.
  • For athletic uses, choose plastic lenses. Their light weight and thin material make them ideal to help you maximize your performance.
  • For working in extreme temperatures, choose glass lenses. Plastic expands and contracts in extreme heat and cold, whereas glass lenses will remain the same and safe in your frame.
  • For the cheapest possible pricing, choose glass lenses. Not only will they cost less initially, but they also last longer and thus reduce your future bills.
  • When you need bifocals, choose glass lenses. They allow you to better blend two or even three prescriptions for a smoother lens and better vision.
  • For anti-reflective coating and other add-ons, choose plastic lenses. The coating tends to stick better, and will function better over time.

Of course, these are just a few of the many scenarios. What do you do if none of the above applies directly to you? What if all of the benefits outlined above matter equally in choosing your next pair of glasses?

In that case, it makes sense to speak with your eye doctor. They will know the difference between glass and plastic lenses, and can make an informed recommendation. Ideally, you should seek advice from an eye doctor who does not have a vested stake in either selling you one option or the other. The more neutral the expertise you seek, the better.

Finding Your Ideal Eyeglass Lens

And then, you’re off. Once you understand exactly what type of lens works best for you, you still need the rest of the glasses. That means a few things: finding a frame that matches the lens, and adding any add-ons to the lens that enhance your vision and convenience.

Of course, you should also start thinking about exactly where you want to buy your next pair of eyeglasses. Here, online is an increasingly beneficial option because it allows you to choose from a wider range of frames and lenses, allowing you to customize your order in a way that helps you get the exact pair of glasses you need.

If you’re not careful, you might end up with the wrong online vendor. To prevent that from happening, and to make sure the transaction is mutually beneficial for everyone involved, look for a website with a history of selling success and a good reputation.

It also makes sense to understand the exact warranty and return policy of the website you order from. That way, if something goes wrong, you can easily send it back and get a lens that matches both your prescription and preference. To learn more about our options, and to get valuable advice on whether to choose glass or plastic lenses, contact us.

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