How Are Prescription Sunglasses And Off-The-Rack Sunglasses Different?

Dr. Jim Martin 11/06/2017

Pick up a pair of regular sunglasses. Then, pick up a pair of ophthalmic sunglasses – the ones for prescription lenses. Do you notice any differences?

Many people get their sunglasses from retail stores. These frames are significantly cheaper than the sunglasses you could get from your eye doctor. But are they really worth it? What's the difference?

Here are the top distinctions between off-the-rack sunglasses and prescription ophthalmic sunglasses, beginning with the biggest difference: the lenses.

Lenses


Prescription lenses are specially designed to help people with less-than-ideal eyesight see clearly. The specific lens can be made from optical glass, types of plastic, polycarbonate, and other materials specifically formulated for clarity of vision, weight, and thickness.

Non-prescription sunglass lenses are usually made from glass or different forms of plastic. They have colored, polarized or darkened lenses, which help protect the eyes from sunlight or reflective light. The lenses in cheap sunglasses do not offer the greatest clarity or protection against UV rays.

Frame Manufacturing


When you compare the frames on regular sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses, you will notice some other significant differences. Those differences come down to the quality of manufacturing.

  • Sizing - Off-the-rack sunglasses are made to fit as many people as possible. They often have hard bridge pieces instead of adjustable nose pieces. Most ophthalmic frames have cushioned, adjustable nose pieces that allow for maximum comfort while positioning the lenses at the ideal position in front of the eyes.

  • Weight - People who wear prescription glasses often have them on a good deal of the day. To make them easy to wear, ophthalmic frames are often made from lightweight, high-quality materials to make them easy to wear for long periods of time. Off-the-rack sunglasses are usually made from cheaper materials that tend to be heavier in weight, not ideal for wearing all day.

  • Lens installation - To fit various prescription lenses, an ophthalmic frame has a groove cut into the frame where the lenses go. The opening for the lenses open and close using screws to allow for lens installation and replacement. With most off-the-rack sunglasses, the frame is one piece with the lenses popped into place. If the lenses get broken, you have to replace the sunglasses completely.

  • Temple construction - The temples on any pair of glasses take a lot of wear. Most off-the-rack sunglasses use a simple hinge at this critical point. Too much stress and the simple hinge will break. For prescription eyeglasses, the hinge construction is more rugged. Flex hinges are very common, allowing the hinge to bend beyond normal positions without breaking.

Can You Get Ophthalmic Quality In Sunglasses?

If you want a pair of sunglasses that are as rugged as a decent pair of prescription glasses, look no further than Oakley. This high-quality brand of sunglasses offers ophthalmic quality in all their sunglasses, prescription or not. Find the Oakley brand here at Broome Optical in Amarillo. Let us show you our many Oakley styles today.

You should still wear eye protection in the fall. Download our free UV Exposure Infographic to learn why sunglasses are important year-round.

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