Glass spectacle lenses – i.e. lenses made from natural glass according to their professional classification – used to be the norm. They still have their place in optometry today thanks to their exceptional scratch resistance. Consumers will also like the fact that they are also less expensive than comparable plastics. In cases of severe ametropia, they can also provide the correction needed with relatively thin lenses – an aesthetic aspect that is not to be underestimated.
Natural glass is also recommended for bifocal or trifocal lenses because various materials can be melted together without forming a noticeable cutting edge. In principle, the increased thickness of the material makes it optically purer; the glasses appear cleaner and are free from disruptive colour fringes (so-called dispersion).
When light strikes a spectacle lens, it is broken and dispersed into its component parts. This creates a disruptive visible colour spectrum, similar to a prism. The intensity of this effect, known as dispersion, depends on the condition of the material used: high-quality material = minimal dispersion. The colour fringe effect is measured based on the so-called Abbé number: The higher the Abbé number for a spectacle lens material, the lower the dispersion. The advantage of natural glass: It produces considerably weaker colour fringes even when the refractive index is identical to that of plastic lenses.
The greater the refractive index range (also called the refraction index) of the spectacle lens material, the thinner the finished glass. For high dioptric values, it is therefore advisable to use a lens material with a high refractive index, as this will reduce the thickness of the lenses and thus the weight of the spectacles. For example: A lens with a refraction index of 1.6 is always thinner than one with a refraction index of 1.5 for an identical dioptric value.
Natural glass has a clear advantage here: Its refractive index range extends from 1.5 to 1.9, while the refractive index range of organic glass (= plastic) is only 1.5 to 1.74. Natural glass also has a greater density than plastic. The result: Even when the refraction index is the same, spectacle lenses made of glass are always thinner than those made of plastic – but they are also substantially heavier.
Our eyes are our most important sensory organ. And since each eye is as unique as a fingerprint, it requires a customised visual analysis at your optometrist.
How ZEISS lenses can help make driving less stressful and safer.
A look behind the scenes: how ZEISS developed DriveSafe
What's important for tailor-made glasses? Knowing how a patient's eyes interact.
Here's what your glasses can do for you when hunting.