Sunglass Lens Materials – Glass Vs Polycarbonate

With so many options to choose from like tinted, polarized or non-polarized, transition, gradient, frames, and more, there’s almost no end to the type and style of sunglasses you can find. Even the material of the lenses give you two main options- glass or polycarbonate. Glass has been around since the beginning, whereas polycarbonate is (relatively) new. Here’s a few things you should know about the materials to help you decide which is right for you!

Glass has stood the test of time, roughly 1,000 years of eye protection. Although it seems to be slowly losing popularity, glass has a lot of good qualities to make it a solid option for sunglass lenses. By far its best quality is its resistance to scratches. Obviously it is still susceptible to scratches, but its inherent qualities make it difficult to scratch and therefore does not need any additional anti-scratch coating for protection. If you’re the type of person to have a pair of sunglasses for a long time, than glass is the better choice. Keeping them stored in a case and using a microfiber cloth to clean the lenses will help prolong the life of your sunglasses!

Glass is also said to be the most optically clear material, which is why it is used in many scientific and medical instruments like microscopes, binoculars, and camera lenses. However, the biggest issue most people have with glass lenses is how often and easily they shatter or crack when dropped. Glass has very little impact resistance, whereas polycarbonate lenses are very durable- up to 10 times stronger than glass and won’t shatter on impact. This quality makes polycarbonate the safer option for kids, safety equipment, and extreme sports. 

Polycarbonate inherently blocks 100 percent UV rays without needing any additional coating, making them the better choice for the long-term health of your eyes compared to glass which need an additional protective coating to be able to protect your eyes from UV rays. Finally, the lightweight polycarbonate material are preferred by many over the heavy glass that can become uncomfortable to wear for longer periods of time. There are some people who argue that some visual acuity and clarity is lost when looking through polycarbonate lenses compared to glass lenses, but they represent a very small percentage of the population.

Depending on the individual and what their uses for sunglasses are, one lens type may be more preferable than the other. While some still swear by glass, the greater majority opt for the more impact resistant polycarbonate. Whatever type you choose, make sure they are of good quality and can properly protect your eyes!