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Top Tips for Choosing Thick Eyeglass Lenses for Durability and Clarity

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedFebruary 29, 2024

According to The Vision Council, 63.7% of adult Americans, or about 167 million, use prescription glasses. This highlights the need for carefully designed lenses, especially for strong prescriptions, as poorly made thick lenses can lead to discomfort and dissatisfaction. Therefore, precision in eyewear design is crucial for effective vision correction.

This article will provide tips for choosing thick eyeglass lenses, which are important for those with strong prescriptions. We'll also look at the best alternatives for thick lenses and some tips about material and frame selection to ensure these lenses meet the needs for comfort and style.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Thick eyeglass lenses are characterized by their substantial width and bulk. They are often required for people with higher prescription strengths to correct severe vision issues like nearsightedness or farsightedness to provide the required level of vision correction.
  • High-index lenses are thinner and lighter while offering effective vision correction, even for those with a high prescription. Their aspheric design provides better vision quality and a wider range of frame styles, making them more versatile.
  • Lens materials like polycarbonate and Trivex made lenses lighter, easing the load on the nose and ears and making the glasses more comfortable for extended periods.
  • Lens coatings like anti-reflective and UV protection enhance lens clarity, durability, and eye health. They help reduce glare and improve vision quality, while UV coatings protect the eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays.
  • Edge polishing makes thick lenses look less bulky by giving the edges a crystal-like transparency, making the lenses appear less bulky. This process not only improves the aesthetics of the glasses but also contributes to the wearer's comfort.
  • Choosing metal frames helps provide the needed support and durability for the weight of heavy, thick lenses. They ensure the glasses are structurally sound and can withstand the additional weight.
  • Opting for smaller and correctly shaped frames can help minimize the bulky appearance of thick lenses. The right frame choice can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal of the glasses while ensuring proper fit and comfort.
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What Are Thick Eyeglass Lenses?

Thick eyeglass lenses are characterized by their substantial width and bulk, often required for those with higher prescription strengths to correct severe refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness).

Source: Kraywoods

The strength of the prescription is directly proportional to lens thickness: the higher the prescription, the thicker the lens. Higher-power lenses require more material to achieve the necessary degree of light bending for correct vision.

Lenses for nearsightedness are thinner in the center and thicker at the edges, limiting frame options for those with strong prescriptions. On the other hand, lenses for farsightedness are thicker in the center, potentially magnifying the eyes, which might cause some to feel self-aware about the appearance of their eyes behind their glasses.

🩺 Health Note

Blurry vision can be a symptom of various health conditions, not just errors in eyesight like myopia or hyperopia. It can indicate serious health issues, such as type I diabetes and hypertension.

If you experience sudden or persistent blurry vision, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional promptly to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Top 8 Tips for Choosing Thick Eyeglass Lenses

Recognizing the delicate balance between eyeglass lenses' thickness, durability, and clarity is essential in making informed choices. Now, let’s turn to specific tips to guide you in selecting the best thick eyeglass lenses for your lifestyle.

Optimizing Lens Thickness

Transitioning to a thinner lens profile enhances aesthetic appeal and contributes to overall visual performance. Here are some ways to optimize your lens to reduce the bulk and weight of strong prescriptions while maintaining optimal clarity and protection.

1. Opt for High-Index Lenses for a Sleeker Profile

When choosing thick eyeglass lenses for individuals with high prescriptions, high-index lenses offer thinner and lighter alternatives to glass lenses. These lenses are made of specialized plastic designed to bend light more efficiently.

The thickness of an eyeglass lens is greatly influenced by its refractive index, a measure of how much the material bends light. Higher refractive index materials bend light more efficiently, allowing for thinner lenses.

For example, a lens with a refractive index of 1.74 will be significantly thinner than a refractive index of 1.50. This particularly benefits those with stronger prescriptions, as higher-index lenses can be made thinner and lighter, enhancing comfort and aesthetics.

High-index lenses can have a refractive index as high as 1.74, making them up to 50% thinner than regular plastic lenses with an index of 1.50 for the same optical prescription.

The reduced material leads to a lighter lens, enhancing comfort for daily wear, and allows for a broader choice in frame styles, including the possibility of selecting rimless or semi-rimless options that might otherwise be unsuitable for thick lenses.

Additionally, the unique aspheric design of high-index lenses often results in flatter lens curvature, reducing the magnification of the eyes that can occur with lenses for farsightedness.

2. Apply Lens Coatings for Enhanced Protection and Performance

If you opt for high-index lenses, consider adding lens coatings, as they help preserve and enhance the visual quality and durability of eyeglass lenses. Here are the different lens coating types to choose from:

  • Anti-reflective coatings: Enhance vision clarity by eliminating surface reflections, which is crucial for high-index lenses that can reflect more light.
  • Scratch-resistant coatings: These strengthen the lens surfaces against daily wear, extending the longevity of your eyewear.
  • Anti-fog coatings prevent vision obstruction due to temperature changes, maintaining consistent clarity.
  • UV treatments: Protect eyes from harmful rays, preventing lens-induced eye damage.

3. Consider the Lens Edges

Edge polishing is a technique applied to the edges of the lens to reduce the appearance of the lens thickness. The process involves either manual buffing with a polishing wheel or an automatic polisher for a consistent and even shine.

This enhances the aesthetic appeal by giving the lens edges a crystal-like transparency and contributes to comfort by reducing the bulkiness at the edges.

4. Choose Lightweight Lens Materials for Comfort

Selecting lightweight materials for thick lenses enhances both comfort and durability. Here are some lightweight materials to consider:

  • Polycarbonate: It is ideal for safety glasses and sports goggles due to its high impact resistance and low likelihood of fracture​​.
  • Trivex: Offers clearer peripheral vision with less chromatic aberration and sharper central optics; slightly lighter than polycarbonate​​.

Both materials have the following characteristics:

  • Thinner and lighter than standard plastic lenses, easing the load on the nose and ears​​.
  • UV protective, blocking 100% of UV rays, negating the need for additional coatings​​.
  • Impact-resistant, comparable in their ability to withstand stress​​.

Selecting the Right Frames

Whether opting for thick lenses or not, choosing the right frames is crucial to adequately support the lenses to ensure comfort and stability for everyday wear. Below is a breakdown of what to consider when choosing your eyeglass frames.

5. Choose Sturdy Frames to Accommodate Lens Weight

Strong prescriptions require sturdy support, so full metal frames are one of the best eyeglass frames for thick lenses. Aside from being durable, they can also handle the weight of thick lenses without warping.​​

For those with nearsightedness, frames that don't accentuate the rims are better as they minimize the appearance of lens thickness​​. Frames with spring hinges and nose pads are also beneficial as they offer increased durability and stability.

Also, the lens's edge thickness increases with the frame size, so a smaller frame can prevent lenses from looking overly bulky​​. It's also important to consider the vertical space within the frame, especially if you need multifocal lenses to ensure enough area to accommodate the different prescriptive strengths​​.

There are also many materials available for frames. Here are some of the sturdiest materials to choose from:

  • Titanium: Known for its exceptional strength and lightweight profile, this material stands out for its corrosion resistance and hypoallergenic properties, making it an optimal choice for individuals with metal allergies.
  • Monel: These excel in flexibility and corrosion resistance and are made of a blend of materials. However, they include elements like nickel, potentially problematic for sensitive skin. Nonetheless, many monel frames are treated with a protective coating to alleviate this concern.
  • Beryllium: These frames are characterized by their lightweight and robust nature, offering a cost-effective alternative to titanium. They are notably malleable, which is ideal for customization and adjustment. Beryllium features exceptional corrosion resistance, which is particularly advantageous for individuals exposed to marine environments.
  • Stainless Steel: These frames balance strength and weight, although they are marginally heavier than titanium. Stainless steel frames are a budget-friendly metal option and are noted for their corrosion resistance.
  • Flexon: Flexon, a titanium alloy, is known for its extraordinary flexibility, maintaining its integrity even after being bent or twisted. This attribute and its lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and hypoallergenic properties make it an ideal choice for children's eyewear, particularly active ones.
  • Aluminum: Predominantly utilized in high-end eyewear, aluminum is renowned for its robustness, flexibility, and resistance to corrosion. It is a premium choice in metal frames, catering to those seeking top-tier eyewear solutions.

6. Select Smaller Frames to Complement Thick Lenses

The size of your eyeglass frames significantly influences the thickness of your lenses. Choosing larger frames results in using more lens material, particularly at the naturally thicker edges. This increases lens thickness and weight, potentially leading to an unwanted look with protruding edges.

Conversely, smaller frames can reduce the lens thickness and weight, improving the glasses' aesthetics and durability. Smaller lenses also minimize visual distortions, particularly in peripheral vision, enhancing overall visual clarity.

7. Pick the Right Frame Shape to Reduce Distortion

The design of the frame can alter the lens's curvature, which can influence light refraction and affect the clarity of vision. Here are the different frame shapes and how each can affect functionality and comfort:

  • Round Frames: Best for lower prescriptions, offering a subtle look and lighter feel, which helps to reduce lens thickness​​.
  • Square Frames: Versatile and suitable for a wide range of prescriptions; larger lens size can evenly distribute thickness for a less bulky appearance​​.
  • Cat-eye Frames: Ideal for lower prescriptions, enhancing style without adding to the lens's bulkiness, which can detract from the frame's flattering design​​.
  • Aviator Frames: Suitable for various prescriptions; their larger size helps balance the weight of thicker lenses, combining comfort with a classic look.

8. Ensure a Perfect Fit

Ensuring a perfect fit is essential as it affects everything from comfort to visual acuity and the longevity of your glasses:

  • Accurate Measurements: Key dimensions like lens width, bridge width, and temple length must be tailored to your facial structure to prevent issues like eye strain and discomfort​​.
  • Facial Alignment: Glasses should complement your face shape and features, align with your pupils, and not cause pressure marks, ensuring they look good and feel right​​.
  • Weight Distribution: Properly adjusted nose pads and temple lengths ensure glasses stay in place, providing stability for thick lenses and preventing slippage that can lead to damage​.

For the best results, consult an optician who can make precise adjustments​.

Final Thoughts

Carefully selecting frames, high-index materials, and suitable coatings delivers an optimal experience when thick eyeglass lenses are unavoidable.

To best accommodate thick lenses, ensure proper professional fittings and regular eye exams to monitor changes over time. With attention to personalized characteristics like facial features, high prescription strengths, and lifestyle needs, thick lenses are custom-made for lasting comfort and natural sight.

Advancements in specialized coatings, lightweight materials, and precision manufacturing have transformed bulky, heavy glasses into more functional optical accessories. These advancements have revolutionized the experience of wearing higher-prescription glasses, making it possible to achieve clear vision without compromising functionality, comfort, or style.

FAQs on Thick Eyeglass Lenses

What are the strongest lenses for glasses?

The strongest eyeglass lenses are high-index materials, typically with an index of refraction around 1.74. These extra-thin lenses can correct prescriptions up to -20.00 or +20.00 diopters.

At just 1-2 mm thick, 1.74 index lenses are up to 50% thinner than regular plastic lenses for the same prescription power. This allows them to be mounted in more frame styles with less distortion for those with extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Why is one lens thicker than the other?

If there's a significant difference in prescription strength between your eyes, one lens may be noticeably thicker. Prescriptions are often not symmetrical, so one eye might have a higher grade than the other.

Do prisms in glasses make them thicker?

Yes, prism correction for conditions like double vision will increase lens thickness. The higher the prism prescription, the thicker the lens will be, although different frame styles can minimize the appearance of thickness​.

What is the highest eye prescription possible?

The highest eye prescription possible generally refers to the level of refractive error in a person's vision, measured in diopters. There isn't a definitive upper limit, but prescriptions that exceed -20.00 diopters for myopia (nearsightedness) or +10.00 diopters for hyperopia (farsightedness) are considered exceptionally high.

What are the best eyeglass frames for thick lenses?

The best frames for thick eyeglass lenses are plastic ones, especially those with thicker ones. They help hide the thickness of the lens better than other materials. They can also help enhance other facial features.

Are thick eyeglass lenses better?

It depends on the user. Thick eyeglass lenses are more affordable but can only correct mild prescriptions. However, thinner high-index lenses accommodate a wide range of vision needs, including higher corrections, though at a higher cost. The lightweight profile of extra-thin materials creates stylish and comfortable glasses suitable even for extreme nearsightedness and farsightedness.