Ah lens ‘extra’s’. Apparently we all need every single one of these lens ‘ad-ons’ no-matter what our prescription is, or what we use them for. Well, it’s time for me to myth-bust, and tell you that it’s simply not true. Unfortunately in our industry these days there is a culture (especially in the big groups and/or chain stores) to ‘upsell’. This absolutely infuriates me as we -as Eyecare specialists -should be here to help people with the best eye health solutions for them. There is no ‘standard’ or ‘one lens to suit all’; consumers should always have a choice, and be educated on what their options are and why.
Believe me, there are a lot of us out here still that take the time to go though each of these options with every single one of our customers, but it seems a lot of consumers are having trouble finding us. So, let me bring the information to you.
I’ve compiled a list below of the most common lens ‘extra’s’, so when you next go to purchase glasses you will at least have an idea of what you would like to pay for. You’ll be armed with enough information to ask the right questions if one is suggested for you, but not explained. I’ve also added a few general optical terms to help you understand the lingo as you go 😉 And remember, you ALWAYS have the right to ask questions, and leave if you are not happy with the information you’re given, or the discussion around what you are being invoiced for.
Most common Prescription Lens ‘Extra’s’.
Single Vision Grind lens: When your lens or prescription requires you to have your lenses made from scratch. This is most commonly required for high prescriptions, when you require prism, or to match a non-standard base curve for example, in wrap around sunglasses.
High Index material: Lenses can be made out of different materials for all kinds of reasons. Basically, the higher the index number, the more compact the material is. This results in lighter weight, clearer vision (less aberrations in the lens due to the more compact design) and a more impact resistant and strengthened finished product compared to a standard 1.5 lens material. The standard lens index is CR39, or 1.5. From there, you go up to (1.53, 1.54), 1.6, 1.67 and 1.74. The most common reasons to use a high index lens would be for a high prescription, better strength and impact resistance, premium clarity, a rimless or semi-rimless design or anyone who is weight sensitive on their nose.
Photochromic: Also known as ‘Transitions (brand name)’. Photochromic lenses are a material the lens is made from which, when activated by direct UV rays turns darker into a ‘tinted’ lens. The more direct UV on the lens, the darker it will go. While the activation of photochromic lenses has improved a lot over the last few years, they are not, and never will be instantaneous. They take longer to go back to clear than they do to go dark. Photochromic lenses have a very general life span of 18-24 months of full activation before they start to lose their ability to change, dependant on prescription, use and lens material.
Multicoat / Anti-Reflective coating: A clear coating that is infused into the top part of lenses designed to cut back glare and reflections. While not an actual colour, these coatings may have a very slight green or purple bloom to them in some lights. However, they are designed to make your lenses look invisible when worn, compared to the white light you see on people who don’t have the coating at all, which is extremely noticeable in photographs. This coating is also a super-tough hard coat and while nothing can ever make your lenses completely scratch proof, this does add an extra layer of protection from everyday marks and fine scratches. Years ago this coating was very hard to clean and came across as ‘smudgy’, but rest assured these days, the finishes are beautiful. I wouldn’t go without this on any of my specs.
Back surface Multicoat: Mainly recommended for sunglasses to stop reflections coming in from behind you onto the back of the lens (closest to your eye). This is useful on the water, or for anyone who is glare sensitive and uses their sunglasses for driving, prescription lenses or not.
Blue control coating: This is the newest technology for prescription eyewear and goes by a lot of different names. Basically, it is a coating similar to a multicoat (see above) but designed specifically to reduce blue light glare and reflections from technology. Aimed towards office workers, students and/ or gamers, this coating has a very slight yellow colour to it as the blue blocking technology blocks the colour from passing through the lens. By using this coating you will get less eye strain from computers and phones. This aides in a more ‘rested’ eye, and also is said to assist with a better sleeping pattern.
Polarised lenses: Polarised lenses are a premium form of sunglass lense designed to reduce glare. Not to be confused with ‘Polaroid’ (brand name), polarised lenses should be the go-to for almost anyone if possible. Traditionally, polarised lenses were available in three main colours; Grey, Brown and Green. Now, they come in a much wider colour palette, which includes graduated colours too (darker at the top, and graduates down to a lighter colour at the bottom of the lens). Both your basic tint sunglass lens and polarised lenses offer you high UV protection, but they are made very differently. Your base option – a ‘tint’ – starts as a clear lens and has a UV and colour tint wash added to the surface. This can fade over time, and only offers minimal (if any)reduction in glare. Polarised lenses however, have the polarising filter, UV, and colour all made within the lens itself, meaning better optics and no fading. Perfect for driving and all outdoor use, polarised lenses cut back glare from from roads, car windscreens, any shiny or bright surface and especially water. I’ll be doing much more on polarised lenses coming into summer.
This is a very short list, with basic info and by no means an ‘all-encompassing’ account of everything available. Before placing an order for new lenses, always make sure all of your options are discussed in detail with your Optometrist and / or Optical Dispenser. Each person and each pair of glasses is unique and requires individual considerations. And lastly, always – ALWAYS ask for an itemised quote before you place an order for lenses, so that you know exactly what is included. That way, nothing can be added to your order without your permission.
The Eyewear Girl xo