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Are Sunglass Lenses Made From Glass Actually Heavy?

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

When it comes to choosing the perfect pair of sunglasses, several factors come into play, including style, durability, and, of course, lens material. One misconception that has persisted for years is whether glass lenses are truly heavy compared to their plastic or polycarbonate counterparts. In reality, plano (non-prescription) glass lenses, when paired with a well-balanced and properly fitting frame, can be just as comfortable as other materials. It is the prescription glass lenses that tend to be heavier due to their thickness.

Over the years, eyewear technology has evolved significantly. In the past, glass was the primary material used for sunglass/eyeglass lenses due to its optical clarity and scratch resistance, and that plastic and polycarbonate had not yet been adopted for optical use. However, one of the main drawbacks of glass lenses was their weight, when used with prescription. People often associated glass lenses with a cumbersome feel, leading to a shift towards lighter alternatives.

The introduction of plastic and polycarbonate lenses brought a revolution to the eyewear industry. These materials offered a much lighter and more comfortable experience for wearers. Plastic lenses are lightweight and can be easily tinted, making them a popular choice for sunglasses. On the other hand, polycarbonate lenses are not only lighter but also highly impact-resistant, making them ideal for sports enthusiasts and individuals with an active lifestyle.

The truth though, is that plano glass lenses, also known as non-prescription lenses, have often been unfairly associated with being heavy. However, it is essential to understand that being of heavy weight is not an inherent quality of glass lenses themselves. Instead, it depends on various factors, primarily the thickness of the lens and the frame design.

The weight of sunglasses significantly depends on how well the frame balances the lenses and how it fits the wearer's face. A well-designed frame that properly distributes the weight of the lenses can make a substantial difference in comfort. When fitted correctly, plano glass lenses can be surprisingly light and provide an exceptional visual experience without feeling burdensome. The lenses themselves are not that heavy, but if the frame is unbalanced and all the weight is being transferred to the front, it will feel like the lenses are heavy. If the frame is fitted correctly, and the weight of the sunglasses is equally on the ears and nose, you likely will not feel any weight for at least hours, unless you are especially sensitive. If you are not sure whether or not you are very sensitive, you are not. You would have noticed by now.

There are some cases where this is more easily said than done.


For example, the Persol 649 line (pictured), which also includes the 714, 9649, and many more offshoots, has a difficult balancing act, literally.

The lenses are so large, and the frame so light, combined with the arms not having much tension on them due to the Meflecto system in the stems, means the only way to get this pair to properly stay on your face is to have the temple tips wrap around your eyes fairly aggressively. I find I wear mine for fancier outings where I do not need them on the whole day and where I will not be sweating much, if at all.

Serengeti and Maui Jim use thinner glass that is even lighter than other brands. Serengeti's Ultra Light glass lenses claim to be a full 20% thinner and lighter than regular glass lenses, and Maui Jim's SuperThin Glass claims to be 32% thinner and lighter than standard glass. I have worn both extensively and in my opinion, both are slightly lighter but do not make much difference when the balance is off. If the fit and balance are right, the sunglasses will be great no matter what brand, and visa versa. When I wear Oliver People's, Ray-Ban, or Randolph I do not feel uncomfortable even after wearing them most of the day, and there is no way for me to exercise my nose or ears more than you. One thing I will say is that sometimes it can take wearing the frame for a day or two for you to get used to a new shape or balance, and just a little bit of patience will pay off. But no one is making sunglasses that will hurt customers to wear.

While plano glass lenses can be lightweight, the situation changes when they are customized for vision correction. The stronger the prescription, the thicker the glass lenses become. As a result, high-prescription glass lenses tend to be heavier compared to their plastic or polycarbonate counterparts. In such cases, opticians might recommend high-index plastic lenses, which are thinner and lighter, or polycarbonate lenses for individuals seeking a lighter option. This is one of the reasons plastic and polycarbonate became so popular, as more and more people started wearing prescription eyeglasses the materials and manufacturing process became cheaper while glass stayed relatively expensive.

In conclusion, the idea that all glass lenses are inherently heavy is simply not true. Plano glass lenses can be as lightweight and comfortable as plastic or polycarbonate lenses, provided they are paired with a well-balanced and properly fitting frame. It is only when glass lenses are used for vision correction, leading to increased thickness, that they may feel heavier. Ultimately, the choice of lens material depends on individual preferences, prescription requirements, and lifestyle needs, but nobody should be scared of sacrificing the superior optics glass lenses provide because of the weight of the lenses.


My Top Picks For Glass Lenses

Constructed with carbon fiber, this style presents a hypoallergenic, lightweight and durable framework. One Way brings versatility to the forefront with a streamlined construction and rubber temples for a customizable fit – perfect for leisure and active lifestyles.


Resolutely modern and dynamic, Delio, with his versatile design, will fit urban escapades as well as wilder getaways. Made in Italy, expertly produced and cured from all-natural cotton, Cellulose Propionate Acetate is not only handcrafted to be lightweight but can be made into beautiful patterns and brilliant hues. Pliable when heated, it is ideal for custom fitting. As the pioneer of Photochromic technology, Serengeti® leads the industry in creating lenses that adapt to any light condition in any setting. Serengeti® Photochromic lenses are activated by the amount of UV radiation in the atmosphere and engineered to transition from light to dark, gradually. Specific and unique to Serengeti®, Spectral Control technology provides you with the ultimate High Definition vision of everything in sight.


The Aviator, the top-selling icon style worn by celebrities and fighter pilots. Engineered to military specs, designed and handcrafted in the USA. SkyTec™ Glass lenses with Vector™ Anti-Reflective & Blue Wave™ lens technology. Designed & Handcrafted in the USA in over 200 steps.


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