Learn about the many lens choices in today’s optical industry

“I can’t see the board.” “It’s getting hard to see the road signs.” “I can’t read my phone anymore.”

If you or someone you know has uttered these phrases, chances are good that it’s time to join the estimated 60 percent of Americans who use some form of vision correction. If you’ve just visited your eye care professional and have been issued a prescription for glasses, what happens next? This guide will help you navigate your options.


Single Vision: Single vision lenses are used to treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia (an aging change that makes it difficult to read and view near objects). A single power is used throughout the lens.

Bifocals: Bifocals have two different-powered prescriptions to allow the patient to see distance and near. A visible line divides the powers with distance viewing in the top of the lens and near viewing in the bottom.

Trifocals: Trifocals are similar to bifocals but incorporate a third prescription for intermediate viewing. This allows the patient a wider range for viewing things at arm’s length, such as a computer. This lens has two visible lines dividing distance, intermediate and near vision.

Progressives: Progressives are sometimes called “No-Line Bifocals.” There is no visible line. Technology creates a corridor of increasing near power in the bottom of the lens. This allows the patient to view near objects through a wide range of distances. It is also favored for its cosmetic appeal.


Glass: Glass is still available but seldom used today. Safer and lighter plastic lenses are more common.

Plastic: Plastic is the material used most often today. CR-39 is the most common and provides lightweight lenses at a good value.

High Index Plastic: High index materials are used for stronger prescriptions to make the lenses thinner and lighter.

Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate materials can also be used for thinner and lighter lenses. Polycarbonate lenses are impact resistant and are a great choice for children, safety glasses and sports prescriptions.


Scratch-resistant: Scratch-resistant coatings help protect lenses from scratches related to day-to-day use. Coatings do not make the lens scratch proof, as some patients like to believe.

 UV Protection: UV coatings protect us from the sun’s harmful UV rays. UV rays have been associated with cataract formation and damage to the retina.

 Anti-reflection (AR) Coating: Anti-reflective coatings are added to reduce reflections and glare. They provide relief from headlights and office lighting.

 Tints: Tints can be added to make your lenses sunglasses or to enhance contrast.

As you can see, there are many considerations that go into choosing the right pair of glasses. Ask your eye care provider or local optician for guidance. They are always happy to help.