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Written By: Celia Vimont Jul. 02, 2019

When you buy a new pair of eyeglasses, you have a lot of choices. Between lenses, frames, coatings and price, the options may seem overwhelming. Here are some tips to make choosing eyeglasses easier.

Lenses: Trivex and Polycarbonate Are Both Good for Safety

  • Lenses made of polycarbonate, a plastic, are light and more impact-resistant than glass. This difference makes polycarbonate a good choice for children’s eyewear, safety glasses and sports eyewear, according to Devin Harrison, MD, an ophthalmologist at Columbia River Eye Center in Richland, WA.
  • Another plastic material, Trivex, meets the same safety standards as polycarbonate. Trivex is stronger, lighter and clearer than polycarbonate. Some people find it minimizes distortion. “If you have a strong prescription and want a thinner lens, polycarbonate or Trivex is also a good choice,” Dr. Harrison says.
  • Glass lenses are now more resistant to shattering than in the past and are more resistant to scratches than other lens types. But glass lenses are heavier than polycarbonate or Trivex.
  • Polarized lenses reduce glare and the amount of UV light entering the eyes. These lenses are especially beneficial for drivers and people who spend a lot of time outdoors like boaters and fishermen. People who spend hours in front of a computer might also find polarized lenses helpful. Most lenses can be made polarized.

Frames: Metal and Soft Plastic Are Good for Durability

  • Frames made from metal, titanium or alloys stand up well to wear and tear.
  • Children can be hard on glasses. “For infants and small children, soft plastic frames are good,” Dr. Harrison says. “Soft plastic frames are bendy and less likely to hurt the child in a fall. Titanium frames are sturdy and can be a good choice for older children or for anyone who is rough on their frames.”
  • Rimless or drilled frames are lightweight. Trivex or polycarbarbonate lenses work with these types of frames. Plastic frames are the most popular. They come in a large range of price, style and colors.

Protective Coatings: Some Tints Help with Contrast

  • Anti-reflective coatings help reduce glare and reflections off the surface of your glasses. This feature lets other people make eye contact with you more easily. Coated lenses help reduce glare from headlights and other lights when you’re driving at night.
  • Brown or rose copper tints are favored by golfers because they help with contrast. Green and gray tints are helpful for cutting down on light and maintaining color balance.
  • Photochromic lenses have a tint that varies based on light exposure. They have a darker tint in sunlight and a lighter tint indoors. These lenses are sometimes called transition lenses. They are not recommended for use in cars (except convertibles), because the lenses need direct UV light from the sun to darken and car windows block the UV.
  • A special boysenberry color tint called FL41 can cut light sensitivity for some people with migraines.

Eyeglass Lens Designs: Progressive Lenses Provide Smooth Transition

  • Single vision lenses are designed to correct distance vision. They can be set to any focus, including near or intermediate vision.
  • Bifocal lenses have two sections: one to correct reading on the bottom half and distance on the top.
  • Trifocals have three sections: for distance vision, intermediate vision and near vision.
  • Progressive lenses have a smooth transition between distance and near vision. These are sometimes called no-line lenses because they don’t have the visible dividing line that bifocals and trifocals have. These lenses come closest to imitating natural vision, and offer smooth and gradual focus from far to near vision. However, they make take a while to get used to.

Price: More Isn’t Necessarily Better

A lot of people want expensive designer frames. But spending more on frames doesn’t mean you’ll end up with better-quality eye glasses, Dr. Harrison notes. “It doesn’t have to be a designer frame to be a good set of glasses,” he says.

However, you shouldn’t skimp on price when it comes to lenses, especially bifocal, trifocal or progressive lenses, he says. “Your optician will help you select good lenses with a wide reading area, to minimize distortion.”

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Tips for Choosing the Right Eyeglasses

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