Despite advances in contacts and vision correction surgery, eyeglasses a staple in modern fashion. They are the most common form of optical correction for refractive errors. Even people with perfect vision are adding non-prescription eyewear into their wardrobes.
With so many different frames, lenses, and treatments, picking a new pair of glasses can be overwhelming. This guide will explain all the different types of glasses available.
Types of Prescription Glasses Lenses
The lenses you need for your glasses will depend on your eyeglass prescription. Before shopping for new glasses, schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor. They will determine what type of vision correction you need.
Single vision lenses are the cheapest and most common type of eyeglass lenses. They have the largest field of vision because they only correct vision at one specific distance (either far or near). This separates them from the multifocal lenses described below.
Your doctor will likely prescribe single vision lenses if you have one of the following:
Bifocal lenses are multifocal, meaning they have two different "powers" in them. These different sections of the lens correct distance vision and near vision.
Bifocal lenses are prescribed for people with multiple vision problems.
Trifocal lenses are similar to bifocals. But they have an additional power to correct intermediate vision. For example, the intermediate portion may be used to view a computer screen.
The main shortcoming of bifocals and trifocals is that they have a distinct line between each field of vision. This makes the sections of the lens produce drastically different vision. Most people get used to this and don’t have an issue. But this drawback has led to the development of more advanced lenses, such as progressives.
Progressive lenses are another type of multifocal lens. They work for anyone who needs bifocals or trifocals. Progressive lenses provide the same correction for near, intermediate, and distance vision. They do this without the lines between each section.
Many people prefer these multifocal lenses because the transition between fields of vision is smoother.
Where to Buy Glasses + Contacts
Best Overall: Warby Parker
Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect
Also Great: Liingo
Best Place to Buy Contacts: 1800 Contacts
Types of Lens Materials
Besides the standard prescriptions, there are many lens options when choosing your glasses. The most common lens materials are the following:
Glass lenses provide excellent visual acuity. However, they are very heavy and prone to cracking and shattering. Their substantial weight and potential safety issues have made them unpopular. They’re still available, but most lenses are made of plastic now.
Plastic lenses are the most common type because they can produce similar results to glass. Plastic is cheaper, lighter, and safer than glass.
High-Index Plastic Lenses
High-index plastic lenses are even thinner and lighter than most plastic lenses.
Polycarbonate and Trivex Lenses
Polycarbonate lenses are standard in safety glasses, sports goggles, and children’s eyewear. They’re lightweight and impact-resistant, making them much less likely to crack or shatter.
Similarly, Trivex is a lightweight and durable plastic used in high-risk environments. These lenses are thinner than basic plastic lenses but not as thin and lightweight as high-index lenses.
Types of Lens Technologies
If you need lenses that provide better visual acuity, you can choose from the following:
Aspheric lenses are flat and thin. This makes them a great choice for stronger prescriptions that need thicker lenses. They also reduce unwanted magnification of the wearer’s eyes. They may increase visual acuity in some cases.
HD lenses use computer-controlled surfacing technology to create free-form or wavefront lenses. This type of lens can take your visual acuity to the next level. They will be much more expensive than traditional lenses.
Types of Lens Treatments
Lens treatments are add-ons that can be applied to your prescription lens for a different reasons. Here are the most common types of lens treatments:
Photochromatic (Transition) Lenses
Photochromatic lenses, commonly known as Transitions, are a popular choice. They darken when exposed to UV rays, eliminating the need for sunglasses. They’re available in all prescription lens types.
Applying a clear scratch-resistant coating to the front and back of lenses increases their durability. Most modern lenses come with scratch-resistance built-in. If yours don't, you can usually add it for a small additional cost.
Anti-reflective coating, also called AR coating or anti-glare coating, eliminates reflections from your lenses. This increases comfort and visibility, especially when driving, reading, or using a screen at night. It also makes your lenses nearly invisible so that others can see your eyes through your lenses.
Anyone with glasses in a cold climate is familiar with the fogging that happens to your lenses. Anti-fog coating can help eliminate this effect. There are permanent anti-fog treatments available, as well as weekly drops to treat your lenses yourself.
UV-Blocking Lens Treatment
Think of this as sunblock for your eyeballs. Adding a UV-blocking dye to your lenses will reduce the number of UV rays that reach your eyes. UV light contributes to the development of cataracts.
Types of Glasses Frames
Choosing the right eyeglass frames is very important. You should find a pair that fits your lifestyle, is comfortable for long-term wear, and expresses your style.
There are two main types of material used to make glasses frames:
Manufacturers use several types of plastic to make frames, including:
- Zylonite, also known as Zyl or cellulose acetate
- Cellulose acetate proprionate
- Nylon blends
- Optyl® epoxy resin
- Variety of colors
- Lower cost
- Less durable
- Color can fade
There are many different metals used to make glasses frames, including:
- Stainless steel
The price of metal frames varies depending on the material used. They can cost the same as plastic frames or reach double to triple the price.
- Can be more expensive
- Can cause negative skin reactions
- Fewer colors to choose from
There are three types of frames:
Full frames completely outline the lens. They are the most durable frame type, and we recommend them for thick lenses.
Semi-rimless frames cover the top portion of the lens. They are lighter and more comfortable but expose the lens to chips and cracks.
Rimless frames provide the largest field of vision and are the most lightweight option. However, they are more delicate than other frames.
Best Frame Shapes for Your Face Shape
One of the best ways to narrow down your frame options is to determine what face shape you have. Here are the seven basic face shapes and what frames usually go well with them.
Round Face Shape
Round faces have a circular appearance with no strong edges or angles. Your face is short, with your cheekbones being the widest part. Frames with sharp angles will help balance out your features.
Ideal Frame Types:
- Clear nose bridge
- Bold colors
Square Face Shape
A square face shape has a similar height and length. You have a wide, angular jaw and a broad forehead. Rounded, wider shapes at the top will complement your face shape and add softness. Oval and rectangular frames will add balance and structure.
Ideal Frame Types:
A heart-shaped face has a broader forehead, prominent cheekbones, and a narrow chin. Round frames help soften angles, while rectangular frames, or frames that are wider at the bottom, can add balance.
Ideal Frame Types:
Oval Face Shape
An oval face shape has balanced proportions. Your cheekbones are wider than your forehead, and you have no sharp angles on your jaw or chin. An oval face is longer than it is wide. Frames just as wide or wider than your cheekbones will help maintain your natural balance.
Ideal Frame Types:
Oblong Face Shape
An oblong face shape is longer than it is wide, similar to an oval shape. The difference is an oblong face shape has a long, straight cheek line. Thick, angular frames will balance the round features.
Ideal Frame Types:
Diamond Face Shape
Diamond-shaped faces are the rarest. They have narrow, angular jaw lines, prominent cheekbones, and narrow foreheads. Rounded frames will add softness and balance.
Ideal Frame Types:
Base-down Triangle Face Shape
A base-down triangular face has a broad jawline, wide cheeks, and a narrow forehead. Glasses with a wider top rim help to balance features.
Ideal Frame Types:
Types of Non-Prescription Glasses
Non-prescription glasses serve various functions, including:
- Preventive eye care
Reading glasses are available over-the-counter (OTC) or via prescription. They improve your ability to see things up close, especially when reading books, newspapers, laptops, and phone screens.
OTC reading glasses work well for people with the same vision in each eye and good distance vision. These come in strengths from +1.0 to +4.0.
Schedule an eye exam if you're suffering from digital eye strain, double vision, or getting headaches from your reading glasses. These are signs that you might need an eyeglass prescription.
Digital Protection (Blue Light Blocking)
Blue light glasses, also called computer glasses, are becoming increasingly popular, especially among millennials.
Most adults spend a significant portion of their day on computers, phones, and tablets. These glasses can help protect your eyes and improve your sleep schedule.
Many professions use safety glasses, including:
- Science labs
- Electrical work
- Auto repair
Professionals who use devices that emit UV light, such as medical lasers, also wear safety glasses. They can be purchased very cheaply for basic protection.
If you need vision correction, you can get goggles that fit over your regular glasses or buy prescription safety glasses. They can be fitted with the same lenses and treatments as regular frames.
You can purchase sunglasses with or without a prescription. They can have polarized lenses or UV protection.
Non-Prescription (Fake) Glasses
There has been an increase in the popularity of non-prescription glasses recently. These are usually fashion accessories that don't have prescription lenses. However, they may also serve as safety glasses in certain low-risk situations.
Glasses come in different lenses, frames, and materials. Before choosing your prescription glasses, visit your eye doctor first. They can perform an eye exam and help you choose the best glasses for your needs and preferences.
What type of lenses are there for glasses?
The main types of lenses used for vision correction are single vision (monovision), bifocals, trifocals, progressives, toric lenses, and prism lenses.
What are the different types of frames?
The three main categories of eyeglass frames are full-frame, semi-rimless, and rimless glasses. They can be made from metal or plastic and come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.
In this article
Best Places to Buy Glasses
Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.
Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.
Best on a Budget
EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.
Best Places to Buy Contacts
1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.
GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.