While most eyeglasses were traditionally made with just glass, there is a newer material that has become a widely used preference. This material is called polycarbonate, and it is used in everything from CDs to bulletproof glass. It was originally developed in the 1970s by the space program for use in outer space. The appeal of polycarbonate for eyeglass wearers is that the material will stand up to the glasses being dropped or smashed with a considerable amount of force without breaking. Another very strong appeal for polycarbonate lenses is that they are less prone to scratching. Any glasses wearer will tell you that scratched lenses are definitely a pet peeve. Scratches on the lenses can be very costly to people who wear glasses, as one scratch can ruin someone’s vision, resulting in the need for an entirely new lens or a brand new pair of replacement glasses. Polycarbonate is 10 times more impact resistant than plastic or glass lenses, so it’s an excellent alternative.
Another great feature of polycarbonate lenses is that the material is able to bend light at a much better degree, resulting in thinner lenses. It is called a refractive index, and polycarbonate’s is much higher than that of glass. This is especially nice for people who usually have strong prescriptions and have to wear heavier, thicker glasses. For vanity purposes, it is definitely a much better choice and many people claim that the polycarbonate makes their eyesight even better than traditional glass. It is also a good material for sunglasses as well. The polycarbonate is combined with UV filters to provide excellent sun protection. Most sunglasses of this material are 100% UV resistant. It is important to note, however, that the polycarbonate is not inherently UV resistant. It must be treated with a special coating to ensure the UV rays are avoided. It is a typically material used to make safety glasses as well as regular prescription (eyeglasses). The material helps to prevent warping of the lenses as well, making it the most durable and practical choice on the market today.
General Electric markets polycarbonate as something called Lexan. It can be found at most hardware stores or specially ordered, and in this application is typically used as building materials. For eyeglasses wearers, they must request that their eye doctor prescribe the polycarbonate lenses when they go to special order the glasses. While they do typically cost more, they are certainly worth it since they’re almost guaranteed to last much longer than traditional glasses. The polycarbonate is actually much lighter than regular glass as well, resulting in a nice feeling on the head and nose for people who wear glasses. Sometimes, people can get a headache from wearing the thicker, heavier glasses too long. Most polycarbonate lenses are about 43% thinner than traditional lenses. The heaviness is practically non-existent with polycarbonate lenses. It also makes a great choice for kids, since they tend to play rough and drop their glasses much more often than adults do.