Different Types of Lenses For Glasses: Polycarbonate, Polarized, Photochromic + More

Choosing the perfect lenses is paramount, as they wield the power to either enhance or detract from your glasses. They do more than just sharpen your vision and keep your eyes safe; they can also brave scratches and shield you from UV rays with the right coatings.

But here’s the thing: not all glasses sport the same lenses. The best pick for you depends on your prescription and what you need from your frames. 

At Mi Vision, our SA eye clinic offers one hour service for polycarbonate and anti-glare lenses. We have the standard anti-glare lens and premium anti-glare both done in less than an hour. What’s more, we have exclusive online specials each month!


(1 hr. service)

Exam + Frame + Anti-glare + Polycarbonate Lenses

On select frames with polycarbonate (lighter and impact resistant) UV ultraviolet protection and anti-glare treatment,  single vision lenses with the following prescription parameters: +/-6 sphere & up to -4 cylinder. Not valid with any other offers, sales or vision insurance. Must mention this offer prior to purchase. Done in one hour, counting after you obtain your sales receipt. Any sales after 5pm will be complete by 11am next business day. Offer ends 03/31/2024

So, let’s dive in and explore the different lens types and what they can do for your eyes.

How Many Types of Lenses Are There?

Well, there are several lenses out there, each serving specific needs. We can break down the different types of lenses in 3 ways:

  1. By Lens Prescriptions: This includes single vision lenses for correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, as well as multifocal lenses like bifocals and progressives.
  2. By Lens Materials: Lenses can be made from various materials such as glass, plastic (including high-index and polycarbonate), and Trivex, each offering unique features like durability, lightweight, and impact resistance.
  3. By Lens Coatings: Coatings like anti-reflective, scratch-resistant, and UV protection can be applied to lenses to enhance clarity, durability, and eye protection.

Types of Lens Prescriptions

These are numerous prescription lenses available, spanning from single vision to progressive and encompassing a multitude of options in between, all crafted to optimize your vision. Let’s delve into different types of lens prescriptions:

  1. Single Vision 

These are your basic go-to lenses. They correct either nearsightedness (when you struggle with seeing far away) or farsightedness (when nearby things are a blur). This kind is the cheapest and most common because they only correct vision at one particular distance. Simple and straightforward, just one prescription for the whole lens.

  1. Multifocal Lenses

Multifocal lenses, unlike single-vision lenses, incorporate multiple corrective powers within a single lens. We’ll go over the different types of multifocals below.

  • Bifocal lenses – These have two prescription strengths in one lens. There’s a line dividing the lens into two parts—the top for seeing far away, and the bottom for up-close tasks like reading. Perfect for those of us who need a bit of help with both distances.
  • Trifocal lenses – These have 3 zones  – one for distance vision, one for intermediate vision (like working on your computer), and one for those up-close moments. Trifocal lenses visibly delineate their different zones with a visible line, but have two lines instead of one.
  • Progressive lenses – Unlike bifocal and trifocal, progressives do not have any visible lines on the lenses.  They are designed to correct for multiple viewing distances—including far, intermediate and near—in one lens. No jarring shifts, just clear vision wherever you look. They’re the modern solution for folks needing help with multiple distances.

Types Of Lens Materials

In the past, eyeglasses were made of glass. Today, they are mostly made of high-tech plastics. Here are different types of lens materials.

Plastic (CR-39 Lenses)

CR-39 lenses are lightweight and the most affordable option, offering good optical clarity and resistance to shattering. It’s commonly used for prescription glasses.

Polycarbonate Lenses

Known for its high impact resistance, polycarbonate lenses are thinner and lighter than plastic lenses. These lenses are shatter-proof and they provide 100% UV protection. They are perfect for light prescriptions since they are able to correct vision without added thickness or weight. They’re a popular choice for safety glasses, sports eyewear, and children’s glasses due to their durability.

High-Index Lenses

These lenses are thinner and lighter than traditional plastic lenses, making them a preferred choice for stronger prescriptions. They offer improved cosmetic appearance and reduce lens thickness.

Trivex Lenses

Similar to polycarbonate, trivex lenses are lightweight and impact-resistant. They provide excellent optical clarity and are often chosen for sports eyewear and rimless frames. The biggest downside is how pricey they can be, which pushes them into unaffordable territory for many people.

Photochromic Lenses

Picture this: lenses that magically adapt to changing light conditions. That’s exactly what photochromic lenses do. They darken when exposed to UV light outdoors and lighten back up when you step indoors or the sun goes down. They eliminate the need for a separate pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays. It’s like having sunglasses and regular glasses rolled into one convenient pair.


While quite uncommon nowadays due to its weight and risk of shattering, glass lenses offer excellent optical clarity and scratch resistance. They may be preferred for certain prescription types or for individuals who prioritize optical quality.

Lenses Coating

When you’re picking out your next pair of glasses, consider which of the following coatings will best suit your needs. Your eyes will thank you for it!


Blue Light Filter: A must-have for screen addicts! Lenses with our blue light filtering coating help to reduce eye strain and eye fatigue from extended use of electronic devices and may even help regulate your sleep cycle by filtering out excessive blue light. You should add this to your prescription lenses if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen, TV, or smartphone. 

Scratch-Resistant Coating: While no lenses are 100% immune to scratches, you can opt for lenses treated with a scratch-resistant coating. This customization adds an extra layer of protection to your lenses, helping them stay scratch-free for longer. No more worrying about accidental scratches ruining your vision.

UV protection: UV lens coating shields your peepers from harmful UV rays, which can cause long-term damage if you’re not careful. Blocking out UVA and UVB rays is a must for eye health. So, slip on those UV-blocking lenses and enjoy the sunshine without any worry.


Anti-reflective:. Think of this as your secret weapon against annoying reflections and glare. It helps to reduce reflections on the surface of your lenses, making your vision clearer, especially in low-light conditions or when you’re staring at screens.  Anti-reflective lenses are especially useful for high-index ones, because they tend to reflect more light. 


Tinted lenses: Tinted lenses are like sunglasses, but with a twist. They come in various shades and colors, allowing you to express your style while protecting your eyes from bright light. While some tinted lenses are purely for aesthetic purposes, others are designed with specific functions in mind, like easing migraine discomfort or improving gaming performance.


Polarized lenses: 

If you’re tired of squinting in bright sunlight or being blinded by glare off shiny surfaces like water or roads, polarized lenses are the solution for you.  They contain a special filter that blocks horizontally-oriented light waves, effectively reducing glare and improving clarity and contrast. 


Polarized lenses are particularly beneficial for those who find themselves frequently behind the wheel, fishing aficionados, or those who enjoy the great outdoors, especially around lakes, oceans or snow. 

Find The Right Lenses at Mi Vision Eye Care today. Book Same Day Appointment Now!

Discover the perfect lenses and frames for your unique needs and preferences. Make an appointment today! Whether you’re due for an eye exam or simply want to explore our extensive collection of eyeglasses and sunglasses, our team is here to assist you. Conveniently located in San Antonio, TX, and serving patients of all ages throughout Bexar County and surrounding areas, including Balcones Heights, Medical Center, Castle Hills, Leon Valley, and beyond, we offer personalized care combined with state-of-the-art technology. Call us or book online now!