A very common question people ask when they look into buying new sunglasses is, "Do I want a glass or plastic lens?" Well, each has its own benefits, as well as its disadvantages. Glass lenses are nice because they provide the most optical clarity with the least distortion. Glass lenses are also extrememly scratch resistant. This is nice because they can be easily cleaned with a t-shirt or a rag. On the down side, glass is much stiffer than plastic, and therefore more brittle. So, in a high impact situation, it can shatter. This can cause injury to the eye or the surrounding area. Glass is also more expensive and in some cases, can be 2-3x heavier than a traditional plastic lens.
Plastic lenses are valuable in that they are lighter on the wearer's face. This relieves problems with pressure points on the bridge of the nose. Another important factor is that a good plastic lens is shatter resistant. This is good because if the wearer is mountain biking or spring skiing and takes a digger, the lens typically will not blow up in the face of the wearer. Plastic lenses are also generally a bit easier on the wallet. Now, this is where the decision becomes tough. Plastic lenses are hard pressed to match the clarity given by a glass lens. Plastic lenses do have an anti scratch coating, but they are still much less scratch resistant than a glass lens and because of this, the lenses will scratch much easier. The medical downside to this is that getting a scratch in your lens can actually damage the eye over time. This is because the pupil is more dialated to the shade and tint of the lens. Rays of sun are able to shine into the scratch and can damage the lens in the eye that is exposed and prone. In time, this can put the eye at early risk of cataracts. This is somewhat extreme but can happen if the scratched lens is worn in bright conditions over long periods of time.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a lens to wear in high impact conditions such as spring skiing or mountain biking as well as in fishing scenarios, it may be beneficial to consider a plastic lens with the sidenote that you will take very good care of the lens. This means not letting them hit the floor, always storing them in a case, and cleaning them with a good microfiber cloth. If you are going to only fish in your new glasses, it may behoove you to consider the glass lens as your best option for better clarity and scratch resistant.
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