Different Types of Sunglass Lenses

Jun 08, 2012 Olympic Eyewear


When you put on a pair of sunglasses, you are not just putting on a fashion accessory. You are putting on protection for your eyes to ensure that your peepers are at the peak of their health. Choppers sunglasses protect the eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays and from glare. The lenses are usually coated with special material that can filter the light.

The lenses are made of various materials: plastic, glass or polycarbonate lenses. Because of innovations in lens technology, you can now choose from a number of lenses and coatings, depending on your needs.

Let's take a look at the different types of sunglass lenses and coatings.

High Index Plastic Lenses. These are actually a special kind of plastic that comes with a coating that enables the lens to provide complete UV protection. High index lenses are light and thin but will need additional coating to make it more scratch-resistant.

Glass Lenses. These are a bit heavier and thicker than high index plastic lenses but provide superb optical clarity and are scratch resistant. However, since they are made of glass, their chances of being chipped or shattered are greater as compared to other types of lenses. An additional coating is required to enable it to provide 100% UV protection.

Polycarbonate Lenses. These have an amazing ability to hold up under impact, about 50 times more than the other types. These lenses can also be made thinner and lighter than all the other types of lenses. They already are able to provide 100% UV protection, even without the extra coating. However, they need additional coatings to minimize lens reflections and scratches.

Polarized Lenses. These effectively eliminate glare and light reflections while allowing other light to come in. As a result, the user can see clearer colors, minus the glare. The polarized lenses can be added as a layer or coating to the lens. Polarized lenses will work for most outdoor situations, but is not advisable for icy conditions or when viewing LCD displays.

Photochromic Lenses. These adjust to the amount of light. When the lenses are exposed to UV rays, these grow darker to protect the eyes. Under dim light, they become clearer and brighter. Photochromic lenses make it more convenient for the user, since you don't have to change from sunglasses to glasses, depending on whether you are outdoors or indoors.

Lens Coatings

The coatings for the sunglass lenses include:

  • Anti-reflective coating. This is attached to the back of the lenses so that light will not reflect, making the wayfarer sunglasses more comfortable for the wearer.
  • UV coating. This prevents the sun's harmful rays from penetrating and provides complete UV protection and is applied to plastic and glass lenses.
  • Mirror coating. This provides further protection in preventing the light to penetrate the lens. It does so by reflecting the light.
  • Scratch-resistant coating. This protects the lenses from scratches. The coating is attached to the two sides of the lens, particularly for light lenses such as high index plastic and polycarbonate. Also called flash coatings and can come in various colors. The coating also comes in varying densities.

Please note that a pair of sunglasses may have more than one coating and this can affect the price. Other coatings that may be added include anti-fog coating (to prevent fogging up during strenuous activities or humid weather) or hydrophobic coating (for water-resistance).

Different lenses and coatings for your needs
Depending on whether you plan to wear sunglasses for your everyday activities, for outdoor sports, for winter activities and so on, it will be helpful to have a collection of various lenses and coatings. You can think about buying sunglasses in bulk.

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