Ready for Impact: Polycarbonate vs. Trivex Lenses

When it comes to choosing the right lenses for your eyewear, particularly if you’re looking for impact resistance, two popular options are polycarbonate and Trivex. Both materials offer durability and safety, but they have unique characteristics worth considering.

Ready for Impact: Polycarbonate vs. Trivex Lenses

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Polycarbonate Lenses: An Overview

Polycarbonate lenses have been a go-to choice for impact resistance for quite some time. Here’s what you need to know about them:

  • Material Composition: Polycarbonate lenses are made from a type of thermoplastic polymer known for its toughness. It has an index of refraction of 1.586 and a specific gravity of 1.20 grams per cubic centimeter (g/cc) which makes for a thin and light lens.
  • Impact Resistance: They are highly impact-resistant, satisfying the ANSI Z87.1 standard for impact resistant lenses. This makes them an excellent choice for sports and other activities where eye protection is crucial.
  • Lightweight: Despite their toughness, polycarbonate lenses are surprisingly lightweight, ensuring comfort during extended wear.
  • UV Protection: Polycarbonate lenses absorb 100% of UVA, UVB, and UVC light, protecting your eyes from excess sun exposure.
  • Not Scratch Resistant: Due to polycarbonate being a soft polymer material, these lenses are more prone to scratches and may benefit from an additional scratch resistant coating.

Ready for Impact: Polycarbonate vs. Trivex Lenses

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Trivex Lenses: The New Contender

Trivex lenses have gained popularity in recent years as an excellent hybrid between standard plastic lenses and polycarbonate lenses:

  • Material Composition: Trivex is a urethane-based pre-polymer, providing exceptional optical clarity and impact resistance. It has an index of refraction of 1.530 and a specific gravity of 1.11 g/cc, also making for a lightweight lens
  • Optical Quality: Trivex lenses have a lower Abbe value than polycarbonate meaning that there is less dispersed light through the lens. Thus, trivex lenses are known for their optical clarity, offering a sharp and clear vision. However, to the average untrained human eye, the difference may be negligible.
  • Lightweight: Similar to polycarbonate, Trivex lenses are lightweight, contributing to a comfortable wearing experience, however due to the lower index of refraction, trivex lenses will be slightly thicker than polycarbonate lenses for a given prescription.
  • Scratch Resistance: Compared to polycarbonate, trivex lenses are less scratch resistant which may be better for glasses wearers who have active lifestyles or tend to handle their frames more.

Ready for Impact: Polycarbonate vs. Trivex Lenses

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Who Might Need Impact-Resistant Glasses?

In many cases, impact resistant lenses are a great choice. If you fall under one of these categories, impact resistant glasses may be for you:

  • Athletes: If you engage in sports or recreational activities with a risk of impact, impact-resistant lenses provide an added layer of safety. Impact resistant sports glasses are especially important for sports with small projectile objects such as baseball, badminton, and squash.
  • Work in Construction or Industrial Settings: Professionals working in environments where debris or flying objects are common, such as construction sites or workshops, can benefit from the added protection of impact-resistant lenses.
  • Have an Active Lifestyle: Whether you’re hiking, biking, or simply leading an active lifestyle, impact-resistant lenses can safeguard your eyes from unexpected accidents.
  • Children: All children should have glasses that can keep up with their active lifestyles during and after school. Impact resistant lenses are a standard in all childrens glasses.

Note: It’s important to consult with your eye care professional to determine the specific needs for your vision and lifestyle.

Ready for Impact: Polycarbonate vs. Trivex Lenses

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Making the Right Choice

Ultimately, the choice between polycarbonate and Trivex lenses depends on your individual needs and preferences. Consider factors such as your lifestyle, the activities you engage in, and your prescription requirements when making this decision. Consult with your optometrist to ensure you choose the lenses that provide the best combination of impact resistance, clarity, and comfort for your unique needs.

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Catherine Ong

Dr. Catherine Ong, OD, is an optometrist based in the Bay Area, California. She earned her doctorate from UC Berkeley, School of Optometry and currently provides primary and speciality eyecare in a private practice setting. She has a passion for patient education and enjoys reshaping technical concepts into digestable topics for all patients. When she is not seeing patients, you can find her exploring new restaurants, exercising, or trying out new recipes.