What Are Polycarbonate Lenses?

What Are Polycarbonate Lenses?

Every time you break your glasses, you probably feel a little like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. After all, a pair of busted glasses is a big deal, even as an adult. The cost of purchasing a new pair of glasses is high, and it never comes at a financially convenient time. 

Enter polycarbonate lenses. Polycarbonate material is a true game-changer in terms of eyeglass durability. Developed in the 1950s, this virtually unbreakable form of plastic helps create incredibly strong glasses and might just save you some cash in the long run. 

Here’s what you should know about polycarbonate glasses and how they can seriously level up your eyeglass game. 

What Is Polycarbonate?

In short, polycarbonate is a type of plastic that was invented in the early 1950s by both the G.E. and Bayer companies. For all you history buffs out there, Bayer developed it first in Germany, followed by G.E. in the U.S. When both companies applied for U.S. patents, Bayer was given priority. G.E. was later granted a patent for their particular brand of polycarbonate.

Why is polycarbonate so important?

The discovery of this material was useful for two main reasons:

  1. It is transparent but strong. Polycarbonate is clear (like plastic or glass) but is extra durable. It is heat resistant (or, in some cases, can be flame resistant). It can be impact-resistant and shatterproof. Polycarbonate is also super lightweight. Polycarbonate is the hottest material on the market right now. But don’t worry, because it’s also fire resistant

    Polycarbonate isn’t just for eyewear. It is the chosen material for airplane windows because it is the toughest material plastics out there. How tough, you may ask? Well, have you seen Fight Club?

    All jokes aside, polycarbonate is 250 times stronger than glass and 30 times stronger than acrylic. Even though it’s a tough plastic, it has almost a glass level of clarity, which makes it perfect for eyewear. 

  2. It is easy to make and Earth-friendly. This new plastic was able to be created at room temperature and could be reformed without the use of heat, making it amorphous. At its melting point, it could easily be reused as something else, making it one of the first successfully recyclable materials. 

This new technology found its home in millions of products. In fact, you’re probably using some today. Your car’s headlights are housed in polycarbonate, and if you're still carrying around a compact disc, that’s made from polycarbonate, too. 

The use of polycarbonate in everyday items means increased performance, product durability, and recyclability.

Here’s how it works on your glasses: 

Why Do I Need Polycarbonate Glasses?

Even if you are incredibly careful with your glasses, your specs may break because you wear them so frequently. Everyday wear takes a toll on the life of your lenses and frames. Even if you take extreme care to never misplace or abuse your eyewear, accidents happen. 

Your first thought might be to switch to titanium or metal frames, and those can be good options. However, in terms of lenses, your best option is to use lightweight and transparent materials, which can be customized with your prescription if you wear corrective lenses. 

That leaves you with a few plastic options or polycarbonate. For impact resistance, polycarbonate wins every single time. 

Top 5 Benefits of Polycarbonate Glasses

They aren’t just impact-resistant, folks. Polycarbonate glasses have numerous benefits. Here are the top five.

1. Impact Resistance

We know, we already said they were durable, but just how durable, you might ask? So durable that in impact studies, polycarbonate has beaten out every other material. It’s the material of choice for safety glasses manufacturers, who work closely with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop high-impact resistant lenses and frames. 

Whether you’re pelted with a rock while mowing the lawn or take a rogue ball-bearing in the shop, polycarbonate lenses won’t shatter and fragment into your eyes. 

2. Comfort

You’d probably assume a material as structurally sound as polycarbonate would be heavy and uncomfortable sitting on your face. Not quite: polycarbonate is an extremely lightweight material. 

One of the reasons it’s been such a great material for the eyeglass industry is because it’s so much lighter than traditional eyeglass material, making it a better option for virtually every eyeglass wearer. 

3. UV Protection

Polycarbonate is naturally UV protective. Unlike glass or other lens materials, polycarbonate is naturally 100% UV blocking without requiring an additional coating or treatment. This means your standard eyeglasses or safety glasses can protect your eyes from sun damage without the use of dark lenses or shades. 

However, it does not mean you won’t still squint if you are in direct sunlight without sunglasses. Darker lenses are required for blocking out visible light. 

4. Prescription Availability

No matter your prescription, polycarbonate lenses can accommodate. This makes polycarbonate a superior alternative to glass because it is more durable, less expensive, and still able to correct your vision with proper curvature.

Want extras like blue-light blocking lenses or anti-fog coating? You can get those, too, simply by asking. If you need safety glasses, polycarbonate should be your one and only option. At Stoggles, it’s the only material we use for our lenses and frames. 

5. Polycarbonate Sunglasses Exist

All hail the power of indestructible sunglasses. If you’re any kind of outdoors person, you can appreciate glasses that both shield your eyes from the sun and are durable enough to withstand your chosen activities. 

Wakeboarding, snowboarding, or racquetball; no matter your sport, you can depend on polycarbonate sunglasses to keep your eyes safe and shielded from the sun without shattering and creating a dangerous situation that could seriously impact your vision.

BONUS: Cost Savings

The bonus of polycarbonate lenses is that they’re much more affordable than you’d expect. While polycarbonate can sometimes be slightly more expensive up front, the benefit of not having to buy additional pairs of frames and lenses later on because of cracks and breaks will save you money long term. 

If you’re tired of purchasing new glasses every quarter, polycarbonate is definitely for you.

Stoggles Safety Glasses and Polycarbonate Powers

Although Stoggles started off as an alternative to standard (read: not attractive) safety eyewear, many of our users wear their Stoggles around the clock. Because we offer eye protection that is aesthetically appealing, you’ll find our safety glasses go from 9-5 very easily.

Plus, if your 9-5 involves any kind of screen, Stoggles offers blue light filtering powers that can help protect your eyes from some of the potentially harmful effects of blue light

Every pair of Stoggles is crafted from polycarbonate and available in a wide range of prescription strengths. You’ll also enjoy the anti-fog coating that comes standard on every pair (no extra charges here). Our glasses are the solution for people who need safety glasses and refuse to stop caring about style. If you can have both, why not? 

With SunStoggles, you can now get the same great style and protection you expect from every pair of Stoggles, but with the benefit of darkened lenses to block out visible light. No more shoving your sunglasses under bulky safety goggles to do outdoor home improvement or squinting because you only have one pair of safety glasses. 

SunStoggles offer the same protective ANSI Z87.1 features as regular Stoggles and all the same great style and design. 

Polycarbonate Your Life

Sometimes plastic can look cheap, like when it involves furniture or dishes. But when plastic meets eyewear, the result is glasses that are durable, impact-resistant, and surprisingly stylish. A glass monocle may make you feel like an old-timey detective, but when it cracks and shatters, you’ll be left wanting more.

Polycarbonate is impact-resistant, fire-resistant, scratch-resistant, and nearly crystal clear: the quadruple threat. Not only can polycarbonate take you through life’s toughest and messiest challenges, but it will give you the seamless clarity that rivals glass. 

So, why not go ahead and order those safety glasses you know you need? Eye damage can happen at work and at home, no matter how careful or professional you are with your projects. 

Trust the team at Stoggles to deliver the best polycarbonate lenses and frames available, and keep your eyes (and your wallet) safe. 



Polycarbonates - an overview | Science Direct 

Shatter Resistance of Spectacle Lenses | JAMA 

Flame Retardants in Commercial Use or in Advanced Development in Polycarbonates and Polycarbonate Blends | Research Gate

Blue light has a dark side | Harvard Medical

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