QUESTION: After I choose frames for my prescription glasses, there are so many choices of lenses. Can you explain the pros and cons of each?

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You have already done the hard part, finding a frame that is flattering, comfortable and in your budget. Now for the part that should be easier, but it is essential you understand your options. Technology has advanced your choice of lenses tremendously in the recent past. Some of the choices are yours but others are dictated by your prescription and lifestyle.

Your first decision will be what material the lenses will be made from.
• The most common material for lenses is CR-39 also known as plastic lenses. Plastic lenses became popular during the 1970s because of the fashion trend for large-sized frames. Plastic lenses, also known as hard resin, are half the weight of glass lenses. This makes them more comfortable while providing excellent optics and vision correction. Softer than glass, you may opt for scratch resistant coatings.
• Polycarbonate was developed in the 1970s for aerospace applications. These lenses are thinner and lighter than regular CR-39 plastic lenses while offering 100% protection from the sun’s harmful UV light. They are up to 10 times more impact-resistant than plastic or glass lenses. Polycarbonate lenses have become customary for safety glasses, sports goggles and children’s eyewear because they are less likely to fracture than regular plastic lenses.
• Even thinner and lighter are the high-index lens materials. Thin eyeglasses are viewed as more attractive and are more comfortable than thick ones. This impact resistant design has become a popular choice of patients who want the lightest, thinnest UV protected lenses possible.

Your next decision will be what types of lenses you need. Does your vision and lifestyle require single vision, progressive or bi-focal?
• Single vision is the simplest as it corrects one type of vision only, distance or close up. If you have only one vision issue, these are great. If you need corrective lenses for vision and reading, you will need different lenses or two different sets of glasses.
• Bifocals are eyeglasses that treat two forms of vision issues—close up and distance. Traditionally, a line across the lens separates different segments. You will need to direct your eyes up or down depending on what your needs are for that moment.
• Progressive lenses provide all the benefits of a bifocal without a separating line. You get a full range of vision correction without taking glasses on and off, just changing the direction you are looking.

Your next choice is coating the lenses.
• Transitions lenses are designed to be worn indoors and will automatically adapt to a darker lenses when outdoors. Transitions lenses block 100% of harmful UV rays and give you the advantage of clear lenses indoors and at night, plus distinct benefits of sunglasses when outdoors—all in the convenience of one lens.
• An anti-reflective lens treatment (AR) is applied to both the front and back lens surface area. It eliminates reflections commonly seen with optical lenses by reducing glare during the day caused by natural and artificial light as well as headlight glare at night.
• Polarization of the lenses allows cutting down on glare from many angles which means no more squinting. They are made with a special film that is applied to the lens during manufacture. This coating is ideal for the outdoorsy person who may be bothered by reflections off of water or snow.
I invite you to visit my office for an exam to discuss eye care health for you and your family. We take most medical insurances and have a wonderful selection of frames should you need glasses. Explaining the product is very different from touching and seeing it. We will be able to show you the actual lenses to choose from so you can ‘see for yourself.’

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