Trivex material is a popular choice for rimless frames.

A survey asking opticians about their lens material preferences in order to understand the usage of plastic lenses unearthed some interesting results.

What’s the best lens material for your patient? There are a lot of elements that go into that answer. To discover what lens materials opticians use and why they use them, we surveyed an assortment of opticians (45 responded) across the U.S. to get a feel for not just what works for patients, but what sells as well.

The first question asked was: “Which lens material was sold most in your office?” With the options of CR-39®, Trivex® material, polycarbonate, 1.60, 1.67, and 1.74 to choose from, 40% of opticians said that they sell polycarbonate over any other material. With the option of elaborating on the reason for this, most opticians attributed their preference to the cost effectiveness and safety of the material.

While several stated that price was a factor, many noted that safety makes polycarbonate desirable for them. They also find that polycarbonate is offered in a wider range of lens designs. CR-39 was the second most sold material with 31.9% choosing it. Like polycarbonate, respondents mentioned that most companies offer all of their lens designs in CR-39. In contrast, Trivex material is not as available, neither are the other materials listed in this question.

Hilco’s Orchid Sun Reader has impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses that offer UV protection.

The answer to: “What material do you primarily use for rimless frames?” was interesting. Assuming that polycarbonate would again be the winner, Trivex material took top honors with 36.17%. When asked to expand on this, the majority of opticians stated that they choose Trivex material over polycarbonate primarily for the chipping problems that they experience when mounting drilled frames with polycarbonate lenses.

Noting the issues of “starring” around drill holes that is repeatedly seen on drill mounts with polycarbonate lenses, Trivex material provides industrial safety performance without the chipping problems of polycarbonate. Even though Trivex material is more expensive than polycarbonate, opticians apparently see its value over polycarbonate for rimless.

Polycarbonate was the second favorite material for rimless eyewear with 31.9%. Even with the issues opticians experience with this material, when it comes to drill mounts, this data indicate that many patients (and possibly opticians) are price-conscious. The next most popular materials were 1.60 and 1.67. For these materials, respondents indicated that they like the thinness they can obtain and that the optics of these materials are superior to polycarbonate. It is logical to infer that these opticians were probably thinking about higher powers when responding to this question.

Things to Consider When Choosing Lens Materials
– Make sure to check out a patient’s prescription first.
– Choose the best material for their prescription and then note the frame type they are wearing.
– If you would normally choose CR-39® for a prescription but see that the patient is in a drill mount or grooved frame, then weigh the option on an impact-resistant material. If you feel Trivex® material works best because of the optics, tell them that is what they need and only downgrade to polycarbonate if price becomes a factor.
– If you don’t have the confidence in the benefits of a certain material, your patient won’t either.
– If you would normally put your patient in 1.74 but have chosen a rimless frame, choose a safety-resistant material like 1.67 that will still be lightweight but also thinner and lighter for their Rx.
– Know you’re the expert and convey that confidence to your patient. It will show and they will be less likely to question your choices.

It’s no surprise that polycarbonate topped the chart with 72.34% in response to which lens material eyecare professionals (ECPs) preferred for kids’ eyewear. In contrast, Trivex material received the remaining 27.66% since the respondents did not indicate any other lens material for use with kids’ eyewear. While polycarbonate getting the highest response was not a surprise, what was startling was the high percentage it received. In the first question, polycarbonate and Trivex material had reasonably close scores, but for this question, polycarbonate far outpaced Trivex material. The possible reason for this is cost, since many parents are very price-conscious about their children’s eyeglasses and polycarbonate is less expensive. Availability may be another reason.

Along with kids’ eyewear, 59.57% of responders revealed that polycarbonate was also the most popular option for “sports frames.” With the lowest price, its durability, impact resistance, UV protection, and light specific gravity, polycarbonate received more than half of the votes for this category. Not surprisingly, NXT®/Trivex material was the second lens material chosen by respondents with 36.17%. The only other material chosen for sport frames was CR-39, with only 4.26% choosing it as an option for sport frames.

WestGroupe’s 2013 Evatik sun collection comes in CR-39 and polarized lenses.

When asked what material provides the clearest vision, 48.94% preferred CR-39. Attributing this to the best Abbe value, the second preference was actually a fill-in. Many opticians asked: “Where is the option for glass?” Glass was specifically left off the options list since this survey was attempting to understand the usage of plastic lenses by ECPs. Write-in comments indicated that CR-39 is still the easiest and clearest option for good optics. In another question, 55.32% of responders chose CR-39 as their favorite material for fashion frames, due in large part to its tintability.

Bollé’s B-Thin Active Design Rx program includes a choice of polycarbonate or Trivex material.

To see the trends in lens material usage according to prescription, a series of questions asked which lens material was generally used for Rx’s within a specific range. Respondents chose CR-39 as the best option for prescriptions ranging from +/-0.00D to +/-2.00D, with 48.94% preferring it. The second and third options chosen for these lower powers were polycarbonate with 25.53% and Trivex material with 23.4%. CR-39 and Trivex material have indices that are well suited to this Rx range, which explains their popularity in this category. Trivex material and polycarbonate offer industrial-level safety that many patients find valuable today so many offices recommend them in this Rx range.

Topping the chart again was polycarbonate with 44.43% as the favorite for prescriptions ranging from +/-2.00D to +/-4.00D. Polycarbonate was preferred over Trivex material, which garnered 21.28%, and 1.60 and 1.67 represented 17.04% each. It’s interesting to see that polycarbonate and Trivex material received almost identical scores in this Rx category as they did in the 0.00D to +/-2.00D category.

Shamir’s InTouch lens comes in a variety of lens materials including SuperLite 1.60, 1.67, and 1.74.

The most preferred lens material for prescriptions ranging from +/-4.00D to +/-6.00D was 1.67 with 61.7% choosing it over the second favorite material, 1.60, that held most of the remaining votes with 25.53%.

For the highest prescriptions over +/-6.00D, the majority of responders chose 1.74 as their favorite material with 55.32% choosing that option. Considering that 1.74 is the thinnest and lightest material possible for the highest prescriptions, this result is not surprising. The only other option indicated by respondents in this category was 1.67 with a respectable 36.3% rating.

These data indicate that ECPs choose lens materials for different reasons within certain eyewear categories. They also show that as the prescription gets higher, opticians revert to higher-index materials. Obviously frame choice is a factor, as are edge thickness, optical clarity, durability, and cost, along with available designs, options, and configurations.

Sarah Hobbs is a fashion blogger and certified optician at Insight Complete Eye Care in Dallas, TX.

Ed De Gennaro is Director, Professional Content of First Vision Media Group.


800-222-6553 • bolle.com

800-955-6544 • hilco.com

PPG Industries, Inc.
800-323-2487 • ppgtrivex.com

Shamir Insight, Inc.
877-514-8330 • shamirlens.com

800-361-6220 • westgroupe.com


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