Polycarbonate vs. Trivex Lenses: Which One to Choose

Polycarbonate and Trivex Lenses are both materials for you to choose from when it comes to glasses. Either has advantages and disadvantages.

Anyone who wears glasses knows the difficulty of certain activities is increased because you must keep your glasses on your face while active. Glasses become a burden if you are participating in sports, doing anything that makes your face sweat, or engaging in an activity in which you have a higher risk for your glasses breaking. Luckily, there are specially designed glasses for those who need prescription lenses for proper vision, but who want to lead an active life, especially outdoors. Not only are these specially constructed glasses great for athletes and casual sports enthusiasts, they are also ideal for accident-prone children. There are even glasses that protect the eyes of those who do not need prescription lenses, but who want to protect their eyes during certain activities.

Most protective eyewear is made from polycarbonate or Trivex. This kind of glasses is thinner than traditional eyeglasses and it is also lighter weight. This makes wearing the glasses much more comfortable than regular eyewear. Despite being thinner, they are 10 times more impact resistant than traditional lenses and they offer complete protection for eyes from the sun.

Then how do you know which of the two, polycarbonate or Trivex, is right for you? Compare the benefits and shortfalls of each and then determine which of these protective options suits your needs best.

Trivex Lenses

Trivex lenses are made from a lightweight, impact-resistant material. It was developed in 2001 by PPG Industries as an alternative to polycarbonate. Trivex lenses are made from a urethane-based monomer. Creators use a mold to construct the lenses in much the same way regular plastic lenses for glasses are made. Trivex is known for creating protective eyewear that offers the ability to see more clearly than other options. Most users describe their vision as crisp and clear when using these glasses.

Polycarbonate Lenses

Polycarbonate was the original type of protective prescription eyewear. It was developed in the 1970s and widely used until Trivex came along. It was originally intended for aerospace applications and is still in use today for various reasons in the industry. Polycarbonate hit the market during the 1980s for use in common eyeglasses and offered an impact-resistant lens that was not bulky or uncomfortable.

Over time, designers continued to make improvements in polycarbonate eyewear. Today, the material is used to make sports goggles and safety glasses, as well as children’s glasses. Many modern rimless styles of eyeglasses utilize polycarbonate to create a stronger pair of glasses without the protection of plastic or metal rims.

Unlike Trivex, polycarbonate lenses are not made in the same way as traditional eyeglasses. The material is a thermoplastic and begins its life as small, solid pellets. Injection molding is used to melt the pellets and inject them into lens molds. Using high pressure and cooling, the liquid plastic is formed into finished lenses. The entire process takes only a few minutes. Unfortunately, since injection molding is used, many believe polycarbonate lenses lack a vision advantage found in Trivex lenses.

Comparing Polycarbonate and Trivex

Once you have chosen the appropriate frames, all that is left to do is to determine if Trivex or polycarbonate is the best material for your lenses. There are several differences between the two, so before making your decision, carefully consider:

Scratch-Resistant Protection

Both types of lenses provide an impact-resistant option that is great for active people. Polycarbonate and Trivex are soft plastics, which make it possible for them to absorb impact without fracturing. Traditional glasses are somewhat brittle and if hit with a ball or debris during an activity, they are more likely to crack or shatter completely. Both types of lenses are also covered with a scratch-resistant coating to protect the surface from scratches. Basically, wearers get the best of both worlds. Their glasses have some flexibility, but the material that makes them less breakable is protected by a coating that makes them hard and durable.

Weight and Thickness of the Lenses

Polycarbonate lenses are about 10% thinner than Trivex lenses. However, Trivex is about 10% lighter than polycarbonate.


Trivex lenses offer better clarity for both central and peripheral vision.

UV Protection

Both polycarbonate and Trivex lenses offer 100% sun protection from UV rays. Neither needs additional UV protection coatings to achieve complete protection.

Impact Resistant

Each of the two materials offers comparable impact resistance.

Cost and Availability

Trivex lenses are typically more expensive than polycarbonate glasses, but by just how much varies from case to case. There might also be a disparity between different versions of polycarbonate glasses. There is a wider range of options for polycarbonate eyewear, so you can expect to pay more if you have additional needs for your prescription. For instance, progressive lenses or bifocals made from polycarbonate will be more expensive than a basic prescription using polycarbonate.

If you are interested in protective eyewear for a specific activity or you believe polycarbonate or Trivex lenses might be right for you or a loved one for other reasons, speak with your optician about creating a pair of glasses that are made from one of these impact resistant and durable materials.

Choosing Frames for Your Polycarbonate or Trivex Lenses

No matter what one you choose, it is important to choose the correct frames for your protective eyewear or you might reduce some of the effects of using special lenses. You can purchase frames that are designed especially for use during sports and exercise, or there are other high-quality frames that might work best for your needs. Your optician can guide you toward the right frames if you intend to wear your polycarbonate or Trivex lenses as safety glasses.

If you intend to wear these glasses during sports and other physical activities, it is important to choose frames that are designed for athletes. Certain frames are rated for sports eyewear and offer additional protection against the impact that could occur. Even if lenses do not shatter or crack, without proper frames, the lens could dislodge and injure your eye if the frame breaks.

If you are purchasing eyewear for children, choose frames that are lightweight and sturdy. These frames compliment polycarbonate or Trivex lenses well and make it as easy as possible for your child to feel comfortable in his glasses.



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