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High Index Lenses Vs Polycarbonate

High Index Lenses Vs Polycarbonate

Reviewed by Thomas Stokkermans, OD, PhD on July 13, 2023

When you buy eyeglasses from Eyebuydirect, you can get plastic, polycarbonate, or high-index lenses. Before deciding which type to get, it’s important to understand all the pros and cons of each type, especially polycarbonate vs. high-index.

The choice that’s best for you depends on the vision correction you need, how often you wear your glasses, your personal taste, and many other criteria. Read on for more details to help you compare polycarbonate and high-index lenses:

A pair of square eyeglasses with pink translucent frames

What Are Polycarbonate Lenses?

A polycarbonate lens is made from a type of plastic that is famous for its durability and impact resistance. This makes it a great lens material if you live an active lifestyle or if you’re worried about damaging your eyeglasses. They’re tough enough to play sports in, and for your rough-and-tumble kids to wear.

Fun fact: Polycarbonate is also used for airplane windshields and astronaut helmets! 

Premium polycarbonate lenses are thin and lightweight, which means they work with most vision prescriptions and frame styles. The material contains a natural ultraviolet (UV) filter, so they also come standard with 100% UV protection. 

What Index Are Polycarbonate Lenses?

Our polycarbonate lenses come in a 1.59 index.

What Are High-Index Lenses?

High-index lenses are constructed with a special plastic that is great at bending (or refracting) light. Because of this, high-index lenses can be much thinner than a standard plastic lens while still having the same prescription. They’re especially useful if you have a strong vision prescription.

Glasses with a thinner lens are very appealing to a lot of wearers because they generally appear more natural in a thinner eyeglasses frame. The sides of high-index lenses are less visible than thicker conventional lenses, helping to avoid the “Coke bottle” look. 

Less material in these lenses also means the glasses will be lighter-weight and more comfortable when you wear them.

What Index Are High-Index Lenses?

We offer high-index lenses in thicknesses of 1.67 and 1.74.


What Lens Material Is Used for Each Lens Index?

The lens index describes the thickness of your lens. At Eyebuydirect, we use the following lens materials for these lens indexes:

  • 1.5 – Plastic
  • 1.57 – Plastic
  • 1.59 – Polycarbonate
  • 1.6 – Plastic
  • 1.67 – High-index 
  • 1.74 – High-index 


LEARN MORE: Find the recommended lens index for your vision prescription.

An image comparing polycarbonate lenses with high-index lenses

High-Index Lenses vs. Polycarbonate Lenses

Check out the charts below for the pros and cons of polycarbonate vs. high-index lenses:

                                                                  Polycarbonate Lenses 

                                  Pros                                                                            Cons

  • Extra durable and unlikely to break.
  • 10 times more impact-resistant than regular plastic lenses.
  • Natural UV protection.
  • Cheaper than high-index lenses.
  • More suitable for lower prescriptions.
  • Thicker than high-index lenses.
  • Heavier and less comfortable than high-index lenses.
  • Can scratch more easily than some other lens materials.
  • Low Abbe value, which can cause visual distortions when looking at lights.


                                                                 High-Index Lenses

                                   Pros                                                                           Cons

  • Lightweight and comfortable.
  • Fit neatly in thin frames.
  • Great for strong prescriptions.
  • Avoid the “bug eye” look that can occur with farsighted prescriptions.
  • High Abbe value, meaning less light scattering.
  • More expensive than standard lenses.
  • Can be more breakable than standard lenses.


What Other Lens Options Are There?

At Eyebuydirect, we offer tons of features for your lenses. All our high-index and polycarbonate lenses come standard with scratch-resistant, anti-reflective, and UV-protective coatings. 

If you spend a lot of time outside, you can turn your regular specs into prescription sunglasses by adding a tint to your lenses. Or you can choose light-adjusting Transitions® lenses, which are clear indoors and darken automatically in the sun outside. Transitions® lenses give you the benefits of sunglasses AND eyeglasses in a single frame!

A pair of eyeglasses with clear frames hanging over the edge of a table

Other great lens options we offer include:

  • Water-repellent coating 
  • Impact-resistant coating (only for polycarbonate lenses)
  • Blue-violet light filter 
  • Dust-repellent coating 
  • Easy Clean coating 
  • Smudge-resistant coating 
  • Night vision enhancement
  • Party Glasses™ (a decorative crystal in the corner of one of the lenses)

With so many features available, it’s important to pay attention at the checkout screen so you get everything you want and need in your next pair of glasses.

We hope the information here has helped you decide what type of eyeglass lens material is best for you. No matter what amazing frames you decide on for your new glasses, you know you’re getting a great deal at Eyebuydirect!



  1. Polycarbonate lenses: The safest choice for kids. All About Vision. February 2019.
  2. High-index lenses: Transform thick glasses to thin glasses. All About Vision. February 2019.

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