When it comes to investing in a new pair of glasses, you want to know as much as possible before making the final decision. But with all the different types of lens and frame materials available, how do you know which is right for you? Hang with us as we efficiently cover the pros and cons of polycarbonate vs. CR-39 lenses, how to tell the difference, and which one may be better for you.

Polycarbonate vs. CR-39 Lenses

1. Polycarbonate Lenses: Pros & Cons
2. CR-39 Lenses: Pros & Cons
3. Polycarbonate: Scratch Resistance
4. Polycarbonate vs. CR-39: How to Tell the Difference
5. Polycarbonate vs. CR-39: Which is Better?
6. CR-39: What Does it Mean?

Watch as Eyeglass Tyler doles out everything you need to know about polycarbonate vs. CR-39 lenses.

Polycarbonate Lenses: Pros & Cons

Polycarbonate lenses are thin, lightweight, and incredibly impact resistant. They're the go-to lens material for safety glasses and extremely versatile when it comes to outfitting them with features such as Transitions, polarization, or other feature combinations. As an industry-standard, polycarbonate lenses are affordable and inherently UV-protected.

The downside of polycarbonate lenses? On the ladder of optical clarity, they're the lowest rung. Polycarbonate's ABBE value, or measurement of optical clarity, is the lowest of available lens materials.

CR-39 Lenses: Pros & Cons

CR-39 is the most basic lens material available. It is often offered with no added features, so it is commonly available with no additional fees and is therefore typically the most inexpensive option. In comparison to polycarbonate, CR-39 provides vastly superior optics, rating just one rung below the material with the highest ABBE value: crown glass.

On the flip side, CR-39 is the thickest and heaviest lens material. Its density makes it easy to crack or shatter, so it is much less compatible with frame features like rimless or semi-rimless and not compatible with drill mount designs. If you choose CR-39 lenses you commonly find that UV-protection comes at an added cost because, unlike polycarbonate, they aren't inherently UV-protected.

Polycarbonate: Scratch Resistance

Let's take a second to talk scratch resistance. Polycarbonate lenses are soft and flexible, which is what makes them incredibly impact-resistant. Unfortunately, it also means they scratch easily.

But don't worry—a good scratch coating helps immensely to keep them on par with other lens material options.

Polycarbonate vs. CR-39: How to Tell the Difference

Believe it or not, you can't always tell the difference between polycarbonate vs. CR-39 lenses at a glance. Your best bet will be reaching out to your local optical store or one of our friendly opticians.

A tool called a hand stone can help determine the difference because CR-39 will turn to dust, while polycarbonate produces a 'swarf', the term for a solid buildup that is created.

Polycarbonate vs. CR-39: Which is Better?

It all comes down to weighing the pros and cons and deciding what's best for you. It's always a good idea to consult an optician so they can consider all factors, like your choice of frame and your prescription, and help you pick the best lens material possible.

CR-39: What Does it Mean?

Eyeglass Tyler has a fun fact for our curious consumers out there!

CR-39 stands for Columbia Resin #39. This stems from it being the 39th formula of the thermosetting plastic developed by the Columbia Resins Project in 1940.

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