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High-Index Lenses vs Trivex Lenses

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedFebruary 29, 2024

With advancements in technology and materials, various options are now available to meet the diverse needs of eyeglass wearers. Two prominent types of lenses that have gained popularity are high-index lenses and Trivex lenses. Each offers unique benefits and features, catering to different preferences and requirements.

This overview explores the distinct characteristics of high-index and trivex lenses, thickness, weight, optical clarity, durability, safety, and cost advantages. This guide aims to comprehensively understand these lens types, helping you make an informed choice that aligns with your specific vision needs and lifestyle.

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🔑 Key Takeaways

  • High-index lenses are ideal for strong prescriptions, offering thinner and lighter options due to their higher refractive index, and are beneficial for correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia.
  • Trivex lenses, made from a urethane-based pre-polymer, provide exceptional visual clarity, high-performance strength, ultra-lightweight comfort, and 100% UVA and UVB protection, suitable for safety glasses, sports eyewear and everyday wear.
  • While high-index lenses are thinner and lighter, especially for strong prescriptions, Trivex lenses are lighter but generally not as thin, offering a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing option with their lightweight nature.
  • High-index lenses provide good optical clarity but may have more chromatic aberration due to a lower Abbe value, while Trivex lenses offer superior optical clarity with less color distortion due to their high Abbe value.
  • High-index lenses are less impact-resistant and more prone to damage, making them less suitable for active lifestyles, whereas Trivex lenses are highly impact-resistant and durable, ideal for safety glasses, sports eyewear, and children's glasses.
  • High-index lenses are generally more expensive due to their complex manufacturing process, with costs varying based on refractive index and additional features, while Trivex lenses also command a higher price, reflecting their quality attributes like impact resistance and optical clarity.

1. Overview

When choosing the right eyeglass lenses, the options can be overwhelming. Whether seeking thin and lightweight lenses or prioritizing optical clarity and durability, understanding the differences between various lens types is key. For high-index lenses and trivex lenses, here are the distinct features:

High-Index Lenses

High-index lenses are specialized eyeglass lenses designed for individuals with strong prescription needs. They are made from a special plastic material with a higher refractive index than regular glass or plastic lenses.

The higher refractive index allows these lenses to bend light more efficiently, resulting in thinner and lighter lenses for the same degree of vision correction. High-index lenses are particularly beneficial for correcting refractive errors such as:

  • Nearsightedness
  • Farsightedness
  • Astigmatism
  • Presbyopia

They are available in various forms, including single-vision, bifocal, or progressive lenses​​​​​​.

🗒️ Related Article

​​Several choices are available for Nearsighted and Farsighted lenses, such as concave lenses, multi-focal lenses, and high-index lenses, to correct a range of vision issues. Discover more in our article Nearsighted vs Farsighted Lenses.

Trivex Lenses

Trivex lenses are a type of eyeglass lens made from a urethane-based pre-polymer substance, providing exceptional visual clarity, high-performance strength, and ultra-lightweight comfort.

Developed in 2001 by PPG Industries, Trivex lenses have become an excellent choice for optical lenses, especially in applications requiring impact resistance and clarity. They are crafted using a casting process that ensures uniformity and clarity, making them suitable for safety glasses, sports eyewear, and everyday wear.

Additionally, Trivex lenses provide 100% protection from UVA and UVB radiation and have a high Abbe value, which means they effectively manage light dispersal, leading to less distortion and better visual clarity​.

2. Thickness and Weight

Choosing the right lenses involves not just vision correction but also considering comfort and aesthetics. See below the thickness and weight of high-index and Trivex lenses, highlighting their advantages and how they cater to different preferences and needs.

High-Index Lenses

High-index lenses are known for their reduced thickness compared to standard plastic or glass lenses. The higher refractive index of these lenses means less material is needed to correct the same amount of refractive error, resulting in thinner lenses. This is particularly beneficial for those with strong prescriptions, as it avoids the "bug-eye" appearance that can occur with thick lenses.

The thickness of high-index lenses varies depending on the refractive index, with options ranging from 1.53 to 1.74. The higher the index, the thinner the lens. For example, lenses with an index of 1.74 can be up to 35% thinner than standard CR-39 lenses. High-index lenses are also lighter than conventional lenses, making them more comfortable for extended wear, especially for those with strong prescriptions​​​​​​.

Trivex Lenses

Trivex lenses are noted for their lightweight comfort due to their lower density than other standard plastics. They are one of the lightest materials used for eyeglass lenses, which is particularly important for those who wear glasses for extended periods, such as older individuals with more sensitive skin on the bridge of the nose.

In terms of thickness, Trivex lenses are generally not as thin as high-index lenses. While they offer a slimmer profile than other materials, they cannot match the thinness achieved by high-index lenses, especially for those with high prescription needs.

However, Trivex lenses still provide a comfortable and aesthetically pleasing option for many wearers, especially considering their lightweight nature and the use of aspheric and atoric lens designs that help to minimize lens thickness​​​​.

💡 Did You Know?

Thick eyeglass lenses, noted for their considerable width and heft, are typically necessary for individuals with stronger prescription needs to address significant refractive issues like myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness).

3. Optical Clarity and Vision Quality

The quality of vision is paramount when selecting eyeglass lenses. Here’s a comparison of the optical clarity and vision quality offered by high-index and Trivex lenses.

High-Index Lenses

High-index lenses offer good optical clarity and are effective for strong prescriptions due to their high refractive index. They can provide crisp, clear vision with good peripheral vision when paired with an aspheric design.

However, one downside is that high-index lenses can have a lower Abbe value than other materials like Trivex. A lower Abbe value can lead to more chromatic aberration, which might cause slight color distortion or a "fringe" around lights, particularly under certain conditions and with high prescription powers. This issue can affect the overall quality of vision, especially in the peripheral areas of the lenses​​​​​​.

Trivex Lenses

Trivex lenses are known for their exceptional optical clarity, owing to their high Abbe value, which results in less chromatic aberration. This means that they cause less distortion of colors and offer clearer, sharper vision both centrally and peripherally.

The manufacturing process of Trivex lenses, which involves a casting method, also contributes to their superior optical quality, as it ensures uniformity and minimizes vision distortion. Trivex lenses are particularly suitable for those with strong prescriptions who do not want to compromise on visual clarity.

Additionally, the aspheric and atoric lens designs of Trivex lenses reduce unwanted magnification and minification found in more traditional eyewear, further enhancing the quality of vision​​​​​​.

4. Durability and Safety

When considering eyeglass lenses, it's essential to factor in their durability and safety features. Here are the characteristics of high-index and Trivex lenses that relate to their robustness and suitability for various scenarios.

High-Index Lenses

High-index lenses are generally less impact-resistant than other materials like polycarbonate or Trivex. This makes them less suitable for children's eyewear, sports eyewear, or safety glasses where durability and resistance to impact are crucial.

High-index lenses are also more prone to cracking or shattering upon impact. While they offer the advantage of being thinner and lighter for strong prescriptions, their reduced durability is a factor to consider for those who lead an active lifestyle or require safety eyewear. It's essential to handle high-index lenses with care to prevent damage​​​​​​.

Trivex Lenses

Trivex lenses are durable and safe. Originally developed for military applications, they are highly impact-resistant, making them an excellent choice for safety glasses, sports eyewear, and children's glasses.

This high-performance strength minimizes the risk of injury during vigorous activities. Trivex lenses also resist many chemicals, including household products like:

  • Bleach
  • Saltwater
  • Window glass cleaner
  • Suntan lotion
  • Nail polish remover

They retain their shape well over time, even in rimless mountings, reducing the need for frequent adjustments or replacements. In addition, Trivex lenses are scratch-resistant and can be further protected with anti-scratch coatings, enhancing their longevity and maintaining clear vision​​​​​​.

5. Cost Considerations

Cost plays a significant role in the decision-making process when choosing eyeglass lenses. Here’s a breakdown of the costs associated with high-index and Trivex lenses.

High-Index Lenses

High-index lenses are generally more expensive than standard plastic or glass lenses. The cost is higher due to the more complex manufacturing process and difficult materials to grind. The price can vary depending on the refractive index of the lenses, with higher index lenses (e.g., 1.74) being more expensive than lower index options (e.g., 1.60). For example, at Rx Frames N Lenses, the price for 1.60 high index lenses is $79, 1.67 high index lenses are $93, and 1.74 high index lenses are $182​.

Additionally, the cost may increase if you opt for additional features like anti-reflective coatings, photochromic properties, or specific lens designs such as aspheric or progressive lenses. For single-vision high-index lenses, costs typically range from approximately $150 to $200; for progressive lenses, the price can be between $300 and $400​​​​​​.

Trivex Lenses

Trivex lenses are also known to be more expensive compared to standard lens materials. Their cost reflects their high-quality attributes, such as impact resistance, optical clarity, UV protection, and lightweight comfort. The price of Trivex lenses can vary depending on whether they are single-vision or progressive, as well as any additional coatings like anti-reflective or anti-scratch treatments. At Rx Frames N Lenses, Trivex lenses start at $85 for single vision and are available as an option for progressive lenses.

While Trivex lenses have a higher initial cost, their durability and optical quality can provide long-term value, particularly for individuals needing safety lenses or with active lifestyles.

📔 Related Articles

For a more in-depth comparison related to vision, please refer to the following articles:

Wrap Up

Choosing between high-index and Trivex lenses depends on individual needs and preferences. High-index lenses are ideal for those with strong prescriptions who value thinner, lighter glasses, while Trivex lenses offer superior clarity, durability, and impact resistance, suitable for active lifestyles and safety needs. Both types have higher costs due to their advanced features.

Ultimately, the best choice balances prescription requirements, lifestyle, and budget, with professional guidance ensuring a perfect fit for optimal vision and comfort.

FAQs on High-Index Lenses vs Trivex Lenses

Who should use Trivex lenses?

Trivex lenses are suitable for those with active lifestyles, outdoor enthusiasts, and children due to their durability, UV protection, and resistance to impact and chemicals​.

Can Trivex lenses be used for sunglasses?

Yes, Trivex lenses can undergo surface treatments like tinting, making them an excellent option for sunglasses. They also provide 100% UV protection, adding to their suitability for sunwear.

How do high-index lenses compare to standard lenses in terms of appearance?

High-index lenses offer a more attractive appearance due to their thinner and lighter profile. They allow for a wider variety of frame choices, including rimless and semi-rimless frames, and reduce the magnified or minified appearance of the eyes.​