So you’ve heard buying glasses is boring? Well, it all depends on how you look at it. Many people think picking out a pair of glasses is only about choosing frames to go with whatever lenses their optometrist prescribes for them. Luckily, you have more options than that. You can actually add special enhancements to your eye prescription that fit your needs and match your style — just like all the add-ons you imagine in your ideal, custom luxury car or dream home. OK, maybe glasses are not as glamourous as all that, but you get the idea: You’ve got options.
And although you have many features to choose from, that doesn’t mean shopping for eyewear is rocket science, either. Here’s a breakdown of some options for when it’s time for you to buy new glasses.
We’ll start with the basics. Glasses’ lenses can be made out of the following materials:
- Plastic lenses — Since it was first introduced in 1947, plastic (specifically a plastic polymer called CR-39) has been a popular material for lenses because of its light weight, low cost and excellent optical qualities. However, these lenses tend to be thicker than other types of available lenses.
- Polycarbonate lenses — Even more lightweight and up to 10 times stronger than CR-39 plastic lenses, polycarbonate lenses are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, polycarbonate is the preferred material for children’s wear, safety glasses and sports eyewear.
- High-index plastic lenses — With individuals seeking thinner and lighter eyewear, some manufacturers now offer high-index plastic lenses, which are the thinnest lenses available. They’re designed to improve comfort and attractiveness for those with high prescriptions.
- Glass lenses - Glass is actually rarely used nowadays because it’s heavy and can shatter easily, which could cause serious damage to your eyes. Chances are you won’t ever buy this type of lens, but we included it just so you know almost all contemporary “glasses” actually don’t have any glass in them.
Single Vision, Bifocal or Trifocal
Once you choose a lens material, your doctor will prescribe you single vision, bifocal or trifocal glasses. Single vision lenses are prescribed if you need correction for one field of vision (there are three: distance, intermediate and near vision). Bifocals generally focus on distance and near vision, and trifocals focus on all three. In a nutshell, bifocals and trifocals allow people to see clearly at different distances without having to change glasses depending on the situation.
In addition to your lens type and material, you can add lens enhancements to improve comfort and protection. Below is a list of some of your options:
- Scratch-resistant coating — A clear coating that reduces the likelihood of your lenses becoming scratched.
- Anti-glare (anti-reflective) coating — A coating that increases a lens’s light transmission. It also reduces the amount of light reflected from the lens surface and eliminates ghost images.
- No-line bifocal or trifocal (progressive) lenses — Line-free lenses whose prescription strength smoothly transitions from distance to intermediate to near vision.
- Light-to-dark (photochromic adaptive) lenses — Light-sensitive lenses that darken when exposed to sunlight and lighten when sun exposure is reduced.
- UV protection — A lens treatment that absorbs the harmful portion of UV light found in sunlight.
The last step is to find the frames that speak to you. This is generally a matter of style preference and comfort, and there are many frame materials that range from plastics to metals you can choose from. The rule of thumb here is to find frames you like and fit your face comfortably. So make sure you try them on to get a feel for how they fit and look. The goal is to have glasses that don’t make your eyes sore but will look so good you’ll be a sight for sore eyes.
Here at VSP Direct, we want to help with your eye care needs. With one of our vision plans that start as low as 57¢ per day, you could end up saving hundreds annually when you buy glasses. If you haven’t yet enrolled in a vision plan, take a few minutes to compare plans and find the right individual insurance plan for you.