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PLASTIC, POLYCARBONATE, TRIVEX WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
We recently had a patient who filled her prescription in our optical with new frames and lenses. Later, she was out shopping and stopped by another eye doctor’s office. When she did, she talked to their optician who looked at her frames and lenses and said something to the tune of “I can’t believe that they filled your prescription with something other than polycarbonate. Your lenses could shatter.” This inaccurate comment made by a well meaning, yet less informed, optician stimulated me to write and clarify the unique differences in the lens materials that we offer.
In the beginning (well, a long time ago) most lenses for vision were made with glass, henceforth, “glasses.” Then, along came a revolutionary product called plastic. Or, what we commonly call in the business, CR-39 which was lighter, more shatter-resistant, but scratched easily. Because of the superiority of that product, people began to prefer plastic lenses over glass. Then, advances in polymer technology created new plastic lens products. The first was polycarbonate or “bullet-proof plastic.” The impact-resistance of polycarbonate was far superior and therefore all safety glasses started being made in polycarbonate. As you may remember from the past however, older polycarbonate lenses did not provide the clarity that a typical plastic or glass lens would because polycarb lenses do not transmit light as clearly. Following polycarbonate, “higher index” plastic lenses were developed which allowed us to make lenses thinner and lighter especially for high prescriptions. “Trivex” is the most recent advancement in polymer technology. It provides nearly the impact resistance of polycarbonate but in a clearer, more visually effective lens. In the near future, we will have even more impact-resistant and clearer lenses made with Biofilm, Nano technology and other scientific advancements.