Polycarbonate vs Plastic Lenses

As an expert in plastics and a polycarbonate supplier to many industries, we understand the advantages of using a plastic such as polycarbonate and the effectiveness of the many applications it is used for. With so many benefits across thousands of applications, it’s easy to see why polycarbonate is used across so many industries.

Protective eyewear and headgear is important particularly with the need for PPE now and polycarbonate is being used as one of the primary materials for creating that PPE. 

Eyewear lenses are certainly one of the applications suitable for polycarbonate plastic and one of the most popular and consistently produced items for public consumption. Let’s take a look at the considerations for polycarbonate lenses.



Prescription Lenses

Prescription lenses require thin glass or plastic in order to cope with higher index prescription needs. Thickness of glasses affect weight, comfort and style and ideally thinner lenses are needed for corrective prescriptions. Polycarbonate is perfect for prescriptions because essentially it is protective against UV light without needing an additional layer, such as with standard plastic.

Lenses need to be durable, strong and lightweight in order to create a comfortable fit, style and range, offering versatility. But which is better for eyewear generally? Plastic or Polycarbonate both have benefits particularly in regards to glasses, so which should you choose?



Benefits of Plastic

Used throughout numerous industries and incorporated in the designs of millions of products, plastic is an effective material and in particular, for eyewear. So what are the key benefits of plastic in glasses?


  • Lightweight
  • Impact Resistant
  • High Clarity
  • Easy Fit
  • Cheap and affordable
  • Easier to tint & apply UV coatings



Negatives Of Plastic

  • Vulnerable to scratching
  • Even additional coating doesn’t protect from rough surface drops and scratches
  • Requires extra coating for UV protection (base material is not UV protective like Polycarbonate is)
  • Not as effective at light refraction as Polycarbonate
  • Glasses designed with plastic not always as high-quality as Polycarbonate versions (due to design and style aspects)



Benefits of Polycarbonate

  • Lightweight
  • Thinnest Material
  • Higher refraction rate than standard plastic
  • More versatile (used in safety eyewear, shielding, medical equipment)
  • Large portion of the optical market so more designs
  • Impact resistant nature
  • Shatter-proof
  • Stronger protection for Accidents
  • Standard UV protection from base material
  • Ideal for strong prescriptions requiring thin lenses for higher index corrective lenses



Negatives of Polycarbonate

  • Inherently scratches easily due to thinner compound but only when an extra coating isn’t present
  • Chromatic aberrations can occur (higher dispersion of light causes this issue)
  • Not as clear- clarity levels suffer compared to standard plastic lenses
  • Generally a little more expensive



On the face of it, polycarbonate doesn’t initially stand out as the obvious choice for eyewear, specifically prescription lenses and sunglasses however, despite the clarity issue and cost associated with it, polycarbonate offers more benefits across the board, from it’s lightweight nature and shatter proof offering to its suitability for prescription glasses and thin application over standard plastic. Ideal for children’s products, sport and industrial work, there really is no better option.

Lenses are not just associated with glasses and PPE but also microscopes and lab equipment too and with mass production in full swing across so many industries, there are too many benefits with polycarbonate to ignore it as the perfect choice, both in terms of durability, versatility and availability.