Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

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choral54
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Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by choral54 »

Hi:

I have worn reading glasses for about 20 years and would like to move to prescription progressive lenses. Would I notice a big difference not doing the polycarbonate lenses? What would you recommend? I think my insurance covers only plastic lenses, but I can afford polycarbonate. My current insurance ends at the end of the month and I thought I would use the benefit before it ends and I go over to medicare and supplement where all my vision will be out of pocket. What would you do??
sailaway
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by sailaway »

It sounds like you have a pretty mild prescription. I choose polycarbonate because it is lighter and thinner for my coke bottle glasses.
crefwatch
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by crefwatch »

Polycarbonate is a plastic, but I take your point. Do you mean "internet glasses from a distant place" or a local provider for either choice?

Because I'm an active handyman type, I consider actual ANSI-rated impact protection to be very important in selecting eyeglass lenses. Cheaper is not better. I'll also observe that cheaper lenses are, sometimes, less well-made. I don't have vision care health insurance anymore, but when I started using bifocals, I discovered that the big NY City chain that my plan had "no net cost" eyeglasses with were causing me eyestrain. When I switched to paying several hundred dollars for glasses, they felt and worked much better for me.
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kevinf
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by kevinf »

Specify your type of "plastic", almost all lenses are plastic. CR-39, Poly, Trivex, all plastics.

CR-39 is superior to polycarbonate in many ways, most notably in optical clarity and scratch resistance. Trivex and other high index plastics have their own quirks such as higher reflectivity requiring high quality anti-reflective coatings. Note that poly many not be as impact resistant as you think. AR coatings used to embrittle it, not sure if still true. Poly melts if struck by hot sparks, CR-39 does not. Safety is a broad topic and very conditional. I'd always choose CR-39 unless the prescription required a very thick lens.
Last edited by kevinf on Sat May 15, 2021 4:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
CurlyDave
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by CurlyDave »

choral54 wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 8:09 am
...What would you do??
Many may not like this idea but I have gone the "redneck bifocals" route. A pair of inexpensive internet-bought readers I can either wear alone or put on in front of my usual distance glasses.

The biggest disadvantage is that it gives me a "unique" appearance. I am old enough that I just don't care. The advantages are that it is inexpensive, the main glasses can be anything you want, and I found that I kept needing stronger and stronger readers. This solution easily accommodates that. The other advantage is that bifocals are notorious for causing you to trip over things because you don't see them properly. Enough time and you may get used to this issue and it will not be a problem. I live in a rural environment and walk in the woods often. Every time I do that it is an unfamiliar route and I would trip on stuff -- the solution? Just put the reader's in my pocket and only use the distance glasses.
Answering a question is easy -- asking the right question is the hard part.
Looking4Answers
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by Looking4Answers »

Plastic is actually better optically, but unless you have severe vision problems, I doubt you would notice a difference in use. I generally get polycarbonate because it is thinner and lighter. Polycarbonate is inherently UV resistant. If you plan to wear your glasses outdoors, without sunglasses, plastic lenses would need a UV coating. If someone charges you for putting a UV coating on polycarbonate, they are probably clueless or padding their pocket.
t2cycling
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by t2cycling »

I’m a retired dispensing optician. I prefer CR-39 plastic over polycarbonate because of the superior optical quality and greater scratch resistance. Consider adding a high quality anti-reflection coating as well. This will allow you to avoid most of the annoying light reflections while driving at night and indoors under artificial lighting.
nalor511
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by nalor511 »

I hate the color distortion in poly. I use mr8 plastic, commonly called 1.60 (not 1.59, which is poly) index. I also got the blue light filtering AR coating.
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kevinf
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by kevinf »

nalor511 wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 6:18 pm I hate the color distortion in poly. I use mr8 plastic, commonly called 1.60 (not 1.59, which is poly) index. I also got the blue light filtering AR coating.
Chromatic aberration. Quite annoying if you work with print.
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tetractys
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by tetractys »

For me it’s color changes that keep me away from high index materials. I’m really bothered by looking at yellow and purple keyboards and such. There are optometrists that don’t believe those distortions are possible—which seems odd to me—so I’ve had to be very adamant at times to obtain livable specs.

And in general, it’s just nice to see true colored landscapes.
skeptical
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by skeptical »

choral54 wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 8:09 am Hi:

I have worn reading glasses for about 20 years and would like to move to prescription progressive lenses. Would I notice a big difference not doing the polycarbonate lenses? What would you recommend? I think my insurance covers only plastic lenses, but I can afford polycarbonate. My current insurance ends at the end of the month and I thought I would use the benefit before it ends and I go over to medicare and supplement where all my vision will be out of pocket. What would you do??
I would go for the best you can afford, and go through a quality local store if you can.

If you have not had progressives before, keep in mind you might still want/need reading glasses. My prescription progressive lenses allow me to read, but I cannot use them for prolonged reading, which was disappointing, so I still need to use cheap CVS reading glasses, which are better than my progressives for reading.

I bought an expensive pair from a full service shop, and also a cheap pair online. Neither are great for reading, the online pair are just OK, but I keep them in a drawer for backup. The online ones are heavier (supposed to be polycarbonate), are just not quite as good vision-wise, and don't fit really well. The store one are very light, fit really well.

I still want the progressives so that I can take one pair (and no switching back and forth) on hikes, car trips, going out for dinner, etc. They let me read menus, use the phone, etc. At home I always use the readers for reading and computer work.
hudson
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by hudson »

t2cycling wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 2:32 pm I’m a retired dispensing optician. I prefer CR-39 plastic over polycarbonate because of the superior optical quality and greater scratch resistance. Consider adding a high quality anti-reflection coating as well. This will allow you to avoid most of the annoying light reflections while driving at night and indoors under artificial lighting.
I worked in a manufacturing plant and was required to wear prescription safety glasses.
Were those likely CR-39?
Many thanks!
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kevinf
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by kevinf »

hudson wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 7:48 pm
t2cycling wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 2:32 pm I’m a retired dispensing optician. I prefer CR-39 plastic over polycarbonate because of the superior optical quality and greater scratch resistance. Consider adding a high quality anti-reflection coating as well. This will allow you to avoid most of the annoying light reflections while driving at night and indoors under artificial lighting.
I worked in a manufacturing plant and was required to wear prescription safety glasses.
Were those likely CR-39?
Many thanks!
Unlikely. Any safety eyewear is going to be ANSI rated polycarbonate. If I were to get eyewear specifically for the purpose of eye safety, I wouldn't use anything that didn't have an appropriate rating for the intended use. When I did need to wear safety glasses, I used googles or frames that fit over my CR-39 eyewear. If you are buying polycarbonate lenses just because "well they're more impact resistant than the other options"... I wouldn't bother. Any plastic lens is going to stop most anything heading towards your face and you're already better protected than anyone who doesn't wear eyewear all the time. I'd get the good stuff and use fit-over-frame safety glasses when needed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zve5PjQbLuY
t2cycling
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by t2cycling »

hudson wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 7:48 pm
t2cycling wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 2:32 pm I’m a retired dispensing optician. I prefer CR-39 plastic over polycarbonate because of the superior optical quality and greater scratch resistance. Consider adding a high quality anti-reflection coating as well. This will allow you to avoid most of the annoying light reflections while driving at night and indoors under artificial lighting.
I worked in a manufacturing plant and was required to wear prescription safety glasses.
Were those likely CR-39?
Many thanks!
Very likely polycarbonate as that is the primary standard safety lens material these days. Trivex is another lens product that is gaining in popularity for both safety and dress wear. Many patients who can’t tolerate polycarbonate lenses are happy with Trivex as it is lightweight, highly impact resistant, lower chromatic aberration and of higher optical quality.
It’s a good choice for people who engage in sports that require both sharp visual acuity and eye protection. Trivex is the more expensive choice however.
egrets
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by egrets »

Let me divert the thread for a moment and ask about safety glasses at the dentist's. I have a regular dentist and sometimes see specialists. I wear, if available, safety glasses also tinted a color to dim the overhead lights. I would like to buy a pair for myself for offices where they do not have them, but no one at the offices that have them seems to know where to buy them. When I look on the web, they seem to be sized for giant guys so do not fit properly.
t2cycling
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by t2cycling »

egrets wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 7:44 am Let me divert the thread for a moment and ask about safety glasses at the dentist's. I have a regular dentist and sometimes see specialists. I wear, if available, safety glasses also tinted a color to dim the overhead lights. I would like to buy a pair for myself for offices where they do not have them, but no one at the offices that have them seems to know where to buy them. When I look on the web, they seem to be sized for giant guys so do not fit properly.
Zorro.com offers several inexpensive options.

https://www.zoro.com/search?q=antifog%2 ... ize=Narrow
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F150HD
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by F150HD »

Specify your type of "plastic", almost all lenses are plastic
when at eye doc the options 99.999999% of the time are 'plastic' or 'polycarbonate' (my experience). They don't give you a 316 page PDF with the chemical breakdown of either lens explaining which type of plastic it is.
hudson
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by hudson »

kevinf wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 8:18 pm
hudson wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 7:48 pm
t2cycling wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 2:32 pm I’m a retired dispensing optician. I prefer CR-39 plastic over polycarbonate because of the superior optical quality and greater scratch resistance. Consider adding a high quality anti-reflection coating as well. This will allow you to avoid most of the annoying light reflections while driving at night and indoors under artificial lighting.
I worked in a manufacturing plant and was required to wear prescription safety glasses.
Were those likely CR-39?
Many thanks!
Unlikely. Any safety eyewear is going to be ANSI rated polycarbonate. If I were to get eyewear specifically for the purpose of eye safety, I wouldn't use anything that didn't have an appropriate rating for the intended use. When I did need to wear safety glasses, I used googles or frames that fit over my CR-39 eyewear. If you are buying polycarbonate lenses just because "well they're more impact resistant than the other options"... I wouldn't bother. Any plastic lens is going to stop most anything heading towards your face and you're already better protected than anyone who doesn't wear eyewear all the time. I'd get the good stuff and use fit-over-frame safety glasses when needed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zve5PjQbLuY
Thanks! Very useful info!
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kevinf
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by kevinf »

F150HD wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 9:21 am
Specify your type of "plastic", almost all lenses are plastic
when at eye doc the options 99.999999% of the time are 'plastic' or 'polycarbonate' (my experience). They don't give you a 316 page PDF with the chemical breakdown of either lens explaining which type of plastic it is.
Sometimes you need more details. Imagine someone asking about advice for cooking with and maintaining their "metal" cookware. You need to know if their "metal" cookware is Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Cast Iron, or Carbon Steel to actually provide useful info. Aside from that, I went on to explain the types available (CR-39 first as that was most likely what they meant by "plastic") and their biggest differences so I'm not sure why this is being quoted.
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by jayk238 »

t2cycling wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 8:36 pm
hudson wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 7:48 pm
t2cycling wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 2:32 pm I’m a retired dispensing optician. I prefer CR-39 plastic over polycarbonate because of the superior optical quality and greater scratch resistance. Consider adding a high quality anti-reflection coating as well. This will allow you to avoid most of the annoying light reflections while driving at night and indoors under artificial lighting.
I worked in a manufacturing plant and was required to wear prescription safety glasses.
Were those likely CR-39?
Many thanks!
Very likely polycarbonate as that is the primary standard safety lens material these days. Trivex is another lens product that is gaining in popularity for both safety and dress wear. Many patients who can’t tolerate polycarbonate lenses are happy with Trivex as it is lightweight, highly impact resistant, lower chromatic aberration and of higher optical quality.
It’s a good choice for people who engage in sports that require both sharp visual acuity and eye protection. Trivex is the more expensive choice however.
I want to second trivex here.

I thought it was a scam but went with it as it was only 10 bucks more for me. Its definitely a good product. Its a huge improvement from the polycarb. I have monocular diplopia and anyone who deals w this knows double vision is hard to treat. The blurring effect was improved simply due to the higher quality lens.
jayk238
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by jayk238 »

F150HD wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 9:21 am
Specify your type of "plastic", almost all lenses are plastic
when at eye doc the options 99.999999% of the time are 'plastic' or 'polycarbonate' (my experience). They don't give you a 316 page PDF with the chemical breakdown of either lens explaining which type of plastic it is.
Maybe at walmart or sears? Good opticians and places will give you a breakdown.
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by Mudpuppy »

kevinf wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 10:23 am Specify your type of "plastic", almost all lenses are plastic. CR-39, Poly, Trivex, all plastics.

CR-39 is superior to polycarbonate in many ways, most notably in optical clarity and scratch resistance. Trivex and other high index plastics have their own quirks such as higher reflectivity requiring high quality anti-reflective coatings. Note that poly many not be as impact resistant as you think. AR coatings used to embrittle it, not sure if still true. Poly melts if struck by hot sparks, CR-39 does not. Safety is a broad topic and very conditional. I'd always choose CR-39 unless the prescription required a very thick lens.
kevinf wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 6:23 pm
nalor511 wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 6:18 pm I hate the color distortion in poly. I use mr8 plastic, commonly called 1.60 (not 1.59, which is poly) index. I also got the blue light filtering AR coating.
Chromatic aberration. Quite annoying if you work with print.
I'm also one of those folks who can't stand the poor optical quality with polycarbonate. The last time I let an optician talk me into polycarbonate lenses to get thinner lenses for my prescription, I sent them back after a week and got CR-39. For me, it's a mix of the chromatic issues, poor peripheral vision, and in that particular set of frames the lens edges would reflect rainbows when the light hit them. For similar reasons, I opt for separate reading/computer glasses instead of progressives. I really do not adapt well to my peripheral vision being changed.

So to the OP, this is going to be highly subjective, based on how your vision responds. It's very important to find out what the optical shop's policy is on returning lenses and swapping out for different lens material. Do they cover the first lens swap free of charge or is there a fee? What if the second set of lenses also causes issues after a normal adjustment period? What would they charge to swap again? Also find out their policy on replacement for damaged lenses and frames, since you'll be wearing this pair continuously instead of intermittently.

Edit to fix quotes
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kevinf
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by kevinf »

Mudpuppy wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 1:01 pm
kevinf wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 10:23 am Specify your type of "plastic", almost all lenses are plastic. CR-39, Poly, Trivex, all plastics.

CR-39 is superior to polycarbonate in many ways, most notably in optical clarity and scratch resistance. Trivex and other high index plastics have their own quirks such as higher reflectivity requiring high quality anti-reflective coatings. Note that poly many not be as impact resistant as you think. AR coatings used to embrittle it, not sure if still true. Poly melts if struck by hot sparks, CR-39 does not. Safety is a broad topic and very conditional. I'd always choose CR-39 unless the prescription required a very thick lens.
kevinf wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 6:23 pm
nalor511 wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 6:18 pm I hate the color distortion in poly. I use mr8 plastic, commonly called 1.60 (not 1.59, which is poly) index. I also got the blue light filtering AR coating.
Chromatic aberration. Quite annoying if you work with print.
I'm also one of those folks who can't stand the poor optical quality with polycarbonate. The last time I let an optician talk me into polycarbonate lenses to get thinner lenses for my prescription, I sent them back after a week and got CR-39. For me, it's a mix of the chromatic issues, poor peripheral vision, and in that particular set of frames the lens edges would reflect rainbows when the light hit them. For similar reasons, I opt for separate reading/computer glasses instead of progressives. I really do not adapt well to my peripheral vision being changed.

So to the OP, this is going to be highly subjective, based on how your vision responds. It's very important to find out what the optical shop's policy is on returning lenses and swapping out for different lens material. Do they cover the first lens swap free of charge or is there a fee? What if the second set of lenses also causes issues after a normal adjustment period? What would they charge to swap again? Also find out their policy on replacement for damaged lenses and frames, since you'll be wearing this pair continuously instead of intermittently.

Edit to fix quotes
I had gone to Pearle Vision for an eye exam and new pair of glasses. The optometrist was great, the opticians not so much. When I was having my prescription filled, I specified that I wanted CR-39 and nothing else for the lenses. When I received the glasses I noticed severe chromatic aberrations and poor optical quality. The opticians tried to gas-light me into believing that the lenses weren't polycarbonate and that chromatic aberration wasn't a thing that existed so that I wouldn't send the lenses back. They kept trying to stall until the return period was up until I demanded that they redo the order with the material I had specified. To nobodies surprise, I received new lenses that were actually CR-39 and didn't have the extreme CA.

Poly is an absolute garbage lens material and I believe its only good use is for $10 safety glasses. My prescription lenses were always CR-39 and after my lasik when I buy sunglasses, I buy brands that use real glass such as Serengeti and Maui Jim. The only poly lenses in my house are safety glasses.
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by Mudpuppy »

kevinf wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 1:29 pm I had gone to Pearle Vision for an eye exam and new pair of glasses. The optometrist was great, the opticians not so much. When I was having my prescription filled, I specified that I wanted CR-39 and nothing else for the lenses. When I received the glasses I noticed severe chromatic aberrations and poor optical quality. The opticians tried to gas-light me into believing that the lenses weren't polycarbonate and that chromatic aberration wasn't a thing that existed so that I wouldn't send the lenses back. They kept trying to stall until the return period was up until I demanded that they redo the order with the material I had specified. To nobodies surprise, I received new lenses that were actually CR-39 and didn't have the extreme CA.
Finding a good optician is just as important as finding a good optometrist, and you aren't always going to find both at the same location. For the place that tried to sell me the polycarbonate, and also tried to gaslight me about the issues I was having with those lenses (although they did admit it was polycarbonate), that was my last time using the optician at that optometrist. I still used the optometrist, but I took the prescription to an independent optician to get my actual glasses.

That was in a different town, but I actually use two different opticians in this town. One is for normal orders and one specializes in repairs. The woman who does my normal orders is good about working with my particular quirks and preferences, but her shop does not do welding or similar frame repairs. Anything beyond replacing screws or nose pads is beyond her shop's capabilities. But she referred me to another shop that does do welding repairs when I had a pair of metal glasses break and my backup pair just had too old of a prescription to be usable. That repair allowed me to get a new exam (it was close enough to that time anyways) before ordering new glasses, rather than rushing things along to be able to see properly again.
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I prefer high index

Post by Bogle7 »

All you people praising CR-39 don't have a prescription of -9.50.
Just saying.
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by otinkyad »

t2cycling wrote: Sat May 15, 2021 8:36 pm.
Trivex is another lens product that is gaining in popularity for both safety and dress wear. Many patients who can’t tolerate polycarbonate lenses are happy with Trivex as it is lightweight, highly impact resistant, lower chromatic aberration and of higher optical quality.
I’m part of a smaller cohort that can’t stand Trivex, and whose prescription essentially precludes CR-39, so for me it’s polycarbonate or bust. I’ve got an expensive optometrist that gets this right. I’ve gotten cheaper Poly lenses around town that never felt right, complete with gaslighting. I’m also a fan of progressives and Transitions, and avoid coatings since in my experience they tend to wash off. I thought I would get computer glasses, but three pairs of glasses is just too many. I lowered my monitors instead. Reading with them doesn’t bother me, though I can’t tilt my head back when watching TV.
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Re: I prefer high index

Post by kevinf »

Bogle7 wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 3:03 pm All you people praising CR-39 don't have a prescription of -9.50.
Just saying.
True, but with that severe of a correction there aren't any GOOD options, just less bad ones. That's at the point where lasik or corneal implants to move the correction down into a more reasonable range should be considered. I was fine with CR-39s thickness and weight at a -3 diopter.
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by Mudpuppy »

otinkyad wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 3:26 pm ... I’m also a fan of progressives and Transitions, and avoid coatings since in my experience they tend to wash off. ...
My trick to avoid washing off the coatings is to wash with a drop or two of dish soap in room temperature water (or a little bit cooler, but not so cold as to be uncomfortable for my hands while washing the glasses). I found the coating would flake if I washed it in warmer water, but haven't had any issues with flaky coatings in the last half decade or so now that I've switched to room temperature water.
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kevinf
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Re: Eyeglasses--Plastic Vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Post by kevinf »

The coatings are generally vapor deposition and my understanding is that it is molecularly bonded as part of the lens itself. The only way for it to peel off would be to remove the surface material of the lens.

I had the same lenses for 10 years and I washed them under warm running water with liquid soap and blew them dry. The AR coating was in perfect condition after a decade. If you're in the habit of cleaning your glasses off on your shirt or a paper towel, all of the plastics are going to get scratched and the surface worn down eventually. Those were CR-39 though, which is significantly more scratch resistant that poly which would likely be harmed much faster with improper care.

I laugh whenever I see someone with a $100+ pair of poly Oakleys that are absolutely riddled and hazy with lens scratches.
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