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Eyeglasses | Optical Centre Smartbuyglasses UK

Polycarbonate Lenses or Trivex Lenses - Which One is Right for Me?

When it comes to eye safety, polycarbonate and Trivex lenses should be the first options you consider. Not only are they thinner and lighter than other lens materials, but they are 10 times more impact-resistant than ordinary plastic or glass lenses. They also provide 100% protection from UV rays.


These characteristics are especially key when you are considering purchasing sports or children’s eyewear but relevant for all glasses lenses. Both polycarbonate and Trivex lenses are safe and convenient choices for each, but they differ in some areas, offering a slightly varied optical experience. Read on for more information about which lens type is right for you.


Polycarbonate Lenses vs Trivex Lenses


What are polycarbonate lenses?


Polycarbonate is a specific kind of plastic invented in 1953 by Bayer’s Dr Hermann Schnell and General Electric’s Dr Daniel Fox. Polycarbonate lenses are made by injection moulding.

Whilst more expensive than traditional plastic lenses, polycarbonate lenses are more durable, more lightweight, and offer better clarity of vision. They also offer guaranteed UV protection. In comparison to Trivex lenses, they are also more cost-effective.

Polycarbonate lenses were first introduced in the 1970s for use in aerospace programs and activities. The material was used for astronaut helmet visors, as well as space shuttle windshields; proving beyond a doubt the material’s durability.

Ever since their introduction to the commercial eyewear market in the 1980s, polycarbonate lenses have become the standard for all children’s and sports eyewear, as well as commercial safety glasses. Because of their durability to withstand fractures, polycarbonate lenses are also most commonly used for both semi-rimless and rimless eyeglass frames. Polycarbonate lenses are commonly used for polarized lenses, photochromic lenses (also known as transition lenses), and sunglass lenses.

Polycarbonate Lenses Advantages 


  • Exceptional Impact Resistance. Polycarbonate lenses are difficult to shatter or fracture, and 10 times more impact resistant than plastic or glass lenses. 
  • Highly Resilient. Because of their hardcore strength and durability, these lenses are ideal for children. The great impact resistance makes it perfect for children, athletes, and even individuals working in hazardous environments.
  • UV Protection. UV light is the leading cause of eye conditions like macular degenerationcataracts, and even skin cancer in the eyelid area. Polycarbonate blocks 100% of UV rays, offering the most convenient way of protecting eyes from such long term damage.
  • Thin and light. Polycarbonate is about 20-25% thinner than plastic and glass lenses. Because of this nature, it’s recommended to those with higher prescriptions, and is also easy for children to get into the habit of wearing their glasses regularly.

Polycarbonate lenses aren’t very resistant to scratches. However, when an anti-abrasion coating is added, the extent of impact resistance diminishes. These lenses are difficult to be tinted.


Trivex Lenses


What are Trivex Lenses?


As with polycarbonate, Trivex material was actually developed for alternate uses to eyewear. Originally used by the military for fighter jet windshields and other military applications, Trivex is famously one of the most durable materials on the market. As Trivex lenses are made from a very similar material to polycarbonate lenses, they perform in much the same way in terms of their weight, durability index, and UV protection.

The key difference that sets the two materials apart, however, insofar as providing an optimum eyewear experience, is that Trivex lenses have a higher Abbe value. This is because they are made up of a urethane-based monomer, which refracts less light. Materials with a higher Abbe value provide clearer and crisper visual clarity.

What this means in real terms is; when lenses are made of materials with a lower Abbe value there can be certain aberrations depending on conditions. Ie. The wearer may notice fuzzy or rainbow halos around lights. Because of its high Abbe value, therefore, Trivex lenses can offer a better optical experience than polycarbonate lenses. This is especially the case for those with higher prescriptions, as the severity of the aberrations tends to increase with stronger prescriptions.

Choosing the right frames for your lenses


It is recommended that you choose your frames and lenses for glasses based on what you need them for. The more information you have, the more informed your choice can be.

Trivex Lenses vs polycarbonate lenses

Here’s an easy-to-understand comparison between trivex and polycarbonate lenses to help with your decision-making process:

Lens thickness

The refractive index of a material is a number that measures how well the material refracts and bends light, which depends on how fast light travels through the material. The higher the refractive index of a material, the slower light moves through it, which results in a greater bending (refracting) of light rays. The refractive index of polycarbonate lenses is 1.58, compared to trivex which is 1.53. This makes polycarbonate lenses thinner than trivex lenses by about 10%.


Durability and Impact Resistance

Both polycarbonate and Trivex lenses are durable and lightweight, making them excellent choices for all children’s eyewear, as well as for sports and safety glasses. Lenses cannot be considered in isolation, however, as all lenses must be placed within suitable frames. Wearing regular eyeglass frames during physical sports or outdoor activities is not recommended because the frames themselves can easily break or fall from your face. In this regard, you need to decide whether polycarbonate or Trivex lenses are best suited to the frames you have, or wish to purchase.



Although polycarbonate lenses use fewer materials, they are heavier than trivex lenses by about 10%.


UV Protection

Both polycarbonate and trivex lenses block the harmful UV rays without requiring specific UV filtering lens coatings.


Clarity in Vision

As discussed, trivex lenses offer a superior optical experience to polycarbonate lenses because of their high Abbe value.

In situations where clarity is key, you may wish to invest in Trivex lenses for their higher Abbe value, and so increased visual clarity. Additionally, if you have a stronger than average prescription you may wish to invest in Trivex to avoid annoying abnormalities in your daily vision, such as haloed lights or distorted peripheral vision.


How To Clean Polycarbonate Lenses


It’s difficult to focus on any task if the lenses on your glasses have smudges or marks on them. Cleaning your glasses not only ensures clear vision but also keeps bacteria-caused infections at bay. Follow these steps to clean and sanitize your eyeglasses.

  1. Start by wetting your lenses with lukewarm water. Particles such as dust and dirt stick to your lenses. This means that there’s a high chance that if you dry wipe them, you can move them around and even create micro-scratches on your lenses. Avoid using ammonia and alcohol-containing household chemical cleaners on your lenses as these can degrade your lenses. After you have rinsed your lenses, gently shake off any surface droplets on the lenses.
  2. Then gently blot your glasses with a good quality microfiber optical cloth. Gentle dabs are all you need. Avoid paper towels, tissues, or napkins. While they seem soft, their textured surfaces may scratch your lenses, deteriorating their life. Also, avoid wiping with the ends of your shirt. All SmartBuyGlasses eyeglasses are delivered with optical cloths for this purpose.
  3. After your lenses are dry, apply a drop of dishwashing soap to your fingertips. Wet your lenses again, using your fingertip to spread it around and eliminate any oil and finger smudges that might be left.
  4. Blot the glasses dry just like in step 2.
  5. Rub a disinfecting wipe along the frame to kill germs on the temple and nose pieces.


For more information, speak to our expert opticians or check out our Arise Clarity HD Lenses for a great option for prescription glasses. The Lenses offer unbeatable clarity, comfort and durability for any situation. 


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