Glass vs. Plastic: Which Lenses Are Right for You?

Popular frames with plastic lenses from Sunglass Warehouse

How many times have you been asked paper or plastic? How about about glass or plastic? Never? That’s what I thought. Well do yourself a favor and when it comes to sunglass lenses ask yourself that very important question. Each material has its own benefits and drawbacks and it’s important to know the difference so you can choose the lens that’s right for you. So which material would win in a fight? The answer to that is easy: it depends on the battle!

Round 1: UV Rays
Most glass will absorb UV radiation, but when it comes to protecting your eyes from the sun’s damaging rays, plastic is the best bet. Because plastic is less transparent than glass, it helps block the rays from your eyes.
Winner: Plastic


Round 2: Extreme Temperatures
Plastic lenses will expand and contract when exposed to hot or cold temperatures whereas glass lenses will retain their shape. So if you frequently find yourself leaving your shades on the leather seat of your car to soak up the rays all day long, you might want to go glass.
Winner: Glass

Round 3: High-Impact
If you’re looking for durability, then you may want to choose plastic. Plastic lenses are less likely to shatter than glass and this makes them perfect for children and to use during sports and other physical activity.
Winner: Plastic

Round 4: Scratching
Glass is more resistant to scratching than plastic, but to reduce your plastic lenses’ susceptibility to scratching you can apply an anti-scratch coating.
Winner: Glass

Round 5: Weight
While glass lenses won’t exactly weigh you down, they are significantly heavier than plastic. (twice as heavy, in some cases!) Along the same lines, plastic lenses are less bulky than glass ones.
Winner: Plastic


Round 6: Clarity
If you’re looking for the highest optical quality, glass is the way to go. Glass lenses are clearer than plastic and will provide you with the crispest visual experience.
Winner: Glass


Round 7: Price
As a general rule of thumb, glass lenses will cost you more than plastic ones. So if you’re on a budget, you might want to pick plastic
Winner: Plastic


Round 8: Anti-Reflective Coating
Anti-reflective coating works better and is easier to apply to plastic lenses than glass ones. Chalk up a point for plastic.
Winner: Plastic

Still unsure which lens to choose? Maybe weighing the pros and cons will help break the tie.