The Cleveland Clinic

Eyeglasses and Your Eyes

Eyeglasses today are fashion accessories, as stylish as purses and belts. In fact, you'll find familiar names - Calvin Klein and Bill Blass to name just two - on your choice of frames these days. So don't fret if contact lenses irritate your eyes. Instead, scope out the latest fashion frames to give your face a fresh look.

What Types of Lenses Are Available?

As technology advances so, too, do eyeglass lenses. In the past, eyeglass lenses were made exclusively of glass. Today most eyeglasses are made of high-tech plastics. These new lenses are lighter, do not break as easily as glass lenses, and can be treated with a filter to shield your eyes from damaging ultraviolet light.

The following modern eyeglass lenses are lighter, thinner, and more scratch-resistant than glass lenses or the older, common plastic lenses.

  • Polycarbonate lenses. These eyeglass lenses are impact resistant and are a good choice for people who regularly participate in sporting activities, work in a job environment in which their eyeglasses may be easily scratched or broken, and for children who may easily drop and scratch their eyeglasses.
  • Photochromic and tinted lenses. Made from either glass or plastic, these eyeglasses change from clear to tinted when exposed to sunlight. This eliminates the need for prescription sunglasses.
  • High index plastic lenses. Designed for people who require strong prescriptions, these eyeglass lenses are lighter and thinner than the standard, thick "coke bottle" lenses that may otherwise be needed.
  • Aspheric lenses. These eyeglass lenses are unlike typical lenses, which are spherical in shape. Aspheric lenses are made up of differing degrees of curvature over its surface, which allows the lens to be thinner and flatter than other lenses. This also creates an eyeglass lens with a much larger usable portion than the standard lens.