When 700 years old you reach… Look as good you will not. For the majority of their history, eyeglasses have been made of just that – glass.
These Are the Lenses You Are Looking For
Glass has, believe it or not, changed over the past few decades. There’s been plenty of advancements in making it thinner and stronger than ever before. The best example of this is probably sitting in your pocket right now. Cell phones use glass as their screen protection, as is the case with many different pieces of technology. This type of need for a strong, scratch resistant material is what has spurred on the development of new glass technologies. In our little corner of the optical galaxy, however, it seems like glass has taken more of a backseat to other materials.
I’ve heard people say they didn’t even know glass was still available, or hear that they tell their patients they can’t get it. That’s really the last thing that I want to hear, so *Waves hand* This is the material you are looking for.
I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This
Some of the negative perceptions about glass stem from this idea that it’s somehow ‘less safe’ than other materials. There seems to be this stigma of a fearsome litigation beast lurking around the corner if you use glass. I’m not really sure where this idea came from, maybe it was a message from the Empire to progress their plans of market domination with plastic lenses? The fact is, glass lenses are required to be more rigorously tested than plastic lenses, which should give you more confidence in glass, not less.
With the current FDA drop ball testing requirements, every single glass lens produced has to be tested. That’s right, we test them – test them all. Non-glass materials (plastic, polycarbonate, etc.) don’t have that stringent of a requirement. They only require that you test a “statistically significant” sample. So when you give a pair of glass lenses to a patient, you know that each of those actually passed drop ball. When you dispense a pair of non-glass, you can only assume they’d probably pass the test, since their friends did. Man, if only colleges had that kind of a rule.
Glass also has the distinct advantage of the quality of vision that it gives to wearers. I’ve even seen it myself where people will be skeptical about glass, but try it anyway so I stop bothering about it. They then tell me how it’s the clearest lens that they’ve ever had. Just getting them past their preconceptions is the hardest part, but after that the product speaks for itself. That’s when you know you have a winner, as there’s really not a lot of things that we can do to really get that ‘wow’ moment any more. Especially when we have patients that have been wearing glasses for years – what can we give them to impress them? We want to keep the engagement with them, and keep them interested. Most of all, we want to make sure that our customers know we’re still adding new technology and options for them. Otherwise, what good are we? It’s our job to be able to recommend them the best possible eyewear options, so we need to give them the options at our disposal.
When we look at anything else in the world that uses lenses – especially anything precise – they all tend to have glass lenses. For example, your phoropter, lensometer, or most other things in the office are going to have glass lenses Sure, you can still see out of other materials, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the clearest vision possible. It’s a lot like cleaning your lenses – you could see just fine and didn’t even know they were dirty, but now that you’ve cleaned them you can see clearly and understand just how blurry everything was before.
We Can’t Repel Scratches of that Magnitude
Scratches are inevitable in lenses. No matter how careful you are with them, a stray piece of dirt is always going to get somewhere and scratch it at least a little bit. Fortunately, the eye can put up with a lot of junk in the way of vision, so all of the tiny scratches tend to ‘blend in’ when we’re wearing the lenses. It’s usually when we go to clean them that we notice “Wow, these are really scratched up”. Of course, all of those scratches compromise our vision and make our eyes work harder. We don’t necessarily notice it, since we’re used to it, but it’s there.
Since glass is so scratch resistant, it doesn’t face this kind of an issue. It takes a lot to scratch glass, and this is one reason why it’s used in so many commercial applications. I do sometimes wonder how long a cell phone would last with a polycarbonate screen, but I think we can all guess how well that would go over. If a piece of glass less than a millimeter thick is good enough for use in a cell phone, I think it might be a useful thing to make lenses out of. This is where the newer glass comes into play. Eagle Thin & Clear with Corning Plus is the newest generation of glass, giving you all of the benefits of glass while making it thinner than ever before.
This new glass can be more than 25% thinner than plastic for the same Rx. This is because standard CR39 has a minimum thickness of 2.0mm, while this glass can be surfaced to a 1.5mm thickness. This material still, of course, passes drop ball testing with flying colors. Since plastic needs to be 2.0mm thick, Corning Plus glass now becomes ideal for certain lower prescriptions. Since it can be thinner than plastic, it gives you better cosmetics with a negligible difference in weight. As glass being ‘too heavy’ has been the main complaint, that’s now been addressed, making it possible to get all of the benefits of glass without one of the major negatives.
I Find Your Lack Of Glass Disturbing
You don’t want to have to deal with glass, I get it. However, this isn’t some sad devotion to an ancient material – it’s about making the best lens we can. If nothing else, glass fits the perfect niche of an ultra-premium product. It’s very nature makes it easy for you to find a place at the top of your lens offerings. Apart from the superior optics and scratch resistance, it feels like it’s a premium product. When it comes to eyewear, there’s a lot that your customers have to take on faith. Comparing different progressive lenses, for example. It’s really hard to show them how design A and design B are different, and why they should pay more for design B. With glass, you have something that’s real. They can feel it, touch it, hug it, and call it George. Or something like that.
By giving the customer this tactile benefit, it helps them justify why they would pay more for the product. That’s good for you, as you can charge more and make more money for it. This is especially good for things like sunwear, as that’s the realm where fashion tends to dictate more than anywhere else. Having glass lenses is one of those retro-cool trendy things, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t give your customers that option.
I’m not saying that every lens you sell should be glass – every material has its own pros and cons. What I am saying is that glass still has a number of areas where it should be considered, and that there’s no reason to not offer it for you high-end eyewear options.
– Dr. O.D. Wan