“How much do glasses cost?” is one of the most frequently asked questions an optician is asked regarding glasses & contacts. While the question may seem straightforward enough, the answer is, “it depends,” as there are a multitude of options that affect the final cost. These options include frame style, lenses type and material, coatings, edge treatments, as well as other options.
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The first option you need to consider is the material the lenses are made from, and lens material has a direct relationship with your prescription.
Glass has been the standard lens material since the invention of eyeglasses and is still the preferred choice of some patients. The main benefit of glass lenses is its higher Abbe value that provides superior visual acuity. The Abbe value is a measurement of how well light is dispersed through a transparent material. Additionally, glass has superior scratch resistance. The downside of glass lenses includes heavier weight, greater thickness, and lower impact resistance. Glass lenses also have a tendency to discolor over time.
Cr39, or plastic, lenses are generally considered the optical standard. When compared to glass, Cr39 lenses are lighter, thinner, and are not prone to becoming discolored. Plastic lenses can be made in a fraction of the time as glass lenses, so you will usually get your glasses much sooner. On the downside, Cr 39 lenses are prone to scratching and will even shatter with mistreatment or an accidental impact. However, Cr39 lenses are less likely to shatter than glass lenses.
Polycarbonate, or “poly,” lenses are even lighter and thinner than Cr39, and are the best-selling of all eyeglass lenses. Poly lenses are high scratch resistance and virtually shatterproof. The only real downside to polycarbonate lenses is a minor loss in Abbe value, but most wearers do not notice any visual deficits.
High-index lenses are available in several types, with each type designated by the index of the refraction value. These values, such as 1.60, 1.65, 1.69, etc., designate the thickness of the lenses, with the lower the number the thicker the lenses. High-index lenses have similar properties to Cr39, but with a slightly lower Abbe Value with each successive index increase. High-index lenses are normally recommended only for patients with prescriptions of +5.00 or above.
Eyeglass Main Use
Once you have selected the lenses material you will have to decide how your glasses will be used, such as for reading, night driving, computer work, constant wear, etc. This is an important part of the decision-making process, as these choices will help the optician to narrow down the options to those that will actually benefit you.
Anti-reflective, or AR, lens coating allows for reduced glare and greater clarity by increasing the light transmission to your eyes. A side benefit of AR coating is aesthetic, as the coated lens is virtually invisible and will eliminate the glare eyeglass wearers typically produce in photographs. AR coating is primarily for patients who wear their glasses for extended periods of time, such as when driving or working on a computer. The only real downside to AR coating is it can scratch easily if the glasses are not handled with care and can actually rub off if the lenses are cleaned too aggressively.
Transition lenses, known scientifically as photochromic lenses, are made with ultra-violet reactive materials that causes the lenses to change shades when exposed to varying degrees of UV light. This causes the lenses to darken in bright sunshine and lighten indoors, eliminating the need for a separate pair of sunglasses.
Transition lenses will change from completely clear to very dark in about one minute, but can take roughly two minutes to return to clear. However, transition lenses do a have a couple of downsides. First, transition lenses will not darken in a vehicle as windshields on most U.S.-made cars filter out UV rays. Second, transition lenses will acquire a minor residual tint after approximately six months of use.
Polarization changes the way light is transmitted through the lenses of sunglasses via a special filter embedded into the lenses. Because this changes how light enters the eye, polarized lenses reduce reflective glare and improves your ability to see in bright conditions. Polarized lenses are suited for wearers who spend a lot of time outdoors driving, skiing or are engaged in water-based activities, such as boating or fishing.