Youth Prescription Lens Guide: Everything you need to know about prescription lenses for kids

While picking out frame shapes and styles tends to be the exciting part of purchasing new prescription glasses, selecting the proper lens is critical to your child’s comfort for all-day wear. We understand that lenses can be a bit tricky to narrow down, so we’ve created this complete guide to help you find the best lens configuration for your child’s next pair of prescription glasses.

While there are two main types of prescription lenses, single vision and progressive/multifocal, you only need to consider single vision lenses for your child as multifocal lenses include reading magnification for seeing up close. Luckily, their young eyes won’t need the reading magnification, so single vision is the way to go!


Prescription Lens Materials

While many doctors will recommend a lens material based on your child’s prescription, not all doctors will. Worry not though, we’re happy to help you pick the perfect lens material for your son or daughter’s new prescription glasses.

Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate is the industry’s most popular lens material as it is lightweight, impact-resistant, optically clear, and is by nature 100% UVA/UVB blocking. Most mild to average prescriptions work best with Polycarbonate which is why approximately 90% of patients select this material.

If your child plays sports, this is a great choice thanks to impact resistance and durability.

Trivex: Trivex is similar to polycarbonate in the sense that it is shatterproof, UVA/UVB blocking, and lightweight. Trivex does boast better optical clarity than polycarbonate, which is why it tends to be labeled as more of a premium lens material. It is also slightly more scratch resistant than polycarbonate.

Trivex also works well for children with slightly stronger than average prescriptions as Trivex material will result in a thinner lens than in polycarbonate.

High Index: High index material is another plastic-based lens material, but due to higher density this material was specifically designed with strong prescriptions in mind. High index lenses are available in 1.67 and 1.74 densities, and to simplify your lens buying process, our expert lab technicians will select the best density to best correct your child’s vision needs. 

For children with strong prescriptions, this material will provide the thinnest and lightest lens available.

 

Prescription Lens Tints, Treatments and Coatings

A standard sunglass lens is a non-polarized, tinted lens, made of any of the materials listed above. While there are almost infinite lens tint choices, here are the most popular:

Grey: This is the most popular sunglass lens tint due to its neutral color perception and darkness. Many people enjoy grey lenses for everyday use as it does not alter color perception. Those with light sensitivity tend to prefer lenses with grey base tints because they are naturally darker than other more contrast-enhancing tints.

Brown: This is the second most popular lens tint for everyday use, and a top pick for sports use due to contrast enhancement and neutral aesthetics. Brown lenses are as great for everyday use as they are for active lifestyles as they enhance contrast, allowing you to differentiate between objects easier. Those with light sensitivity can still enjoy a brown lens, but we recommend pursuing a dark brown, or adding a mirror finish to further darken your lens.

Grey-Green: Ray-Ban is the company that really put grey-green on the map with their G-15 tint. Grey-Green is a great lens tint for those who like grey lenses but want a little bit of contrast enhancement. The green undertones help enhance contrast without drastically altering color perception.

Rose: This tint is a hyper-contrast enhancing tint which is best suited for sports use because it tends to be a bit too light without a mirror finish for everyday use, and alters color perception a bit. Golfers, fishermen, trail runners, and mountain bikers tend to enjoy the brightening and contrast enhancing qualities rose offers. Many people enjoy a rose lens with a black or silver mirror finish which neutralizes the aesthetic of the lens while further boosting contrast and repelling glare.

Amber: Amber is essentially a brown lens with more yellow undertones, but the tint itself will vary from company to company. Some ambers are a dark brownish-yellow, while others are quite light which more closely resemble honey-colored fossilized amber.

Copper: While Amber is brownish-yellow, Copper is a more rosy-brown. The rosy undertones paired with the brown base really enhance contrast to make colors pop. Copper is a desirable tint among fresh water fishermen especially, but also makes a great lens for everyday use if you like the added contrast.

Grey/Brown Gradient: These lenses are darker on top than they are at the bottom of the lens and they gradually lighten from top to bottom. These lenses do not adapt to sunlight (see Photochromic/Transitions below) but rather always have a darker top and a lighter bottom. These lenses are best for those who do not suffer from light sensitivity and are most popular in fashion-forward frames.

Anti-Reflective Coating: Also known as A/R coatings, these treatments reduce reflections, thus improving optical clarity. By reducing reflections, especially from overhead light when indoors, others will be able to see your child’s eyes and expressions through their lenses. Your son or daughter will also enjoy distraction-free wear from the classroom to the playground.

All of our clear and Transitions lenses feature an anti-reflective coating by default because we find this essential to comfortable wear. We do offer an upgraded premium A/R coating which boasts kid-proof smudge and scratch resistance, and also features a 1-year scratch warranty.

BlueShield Blue Light Coating: Kids today are spending more time than ever looking at a screen, whether it be a computer, cell phone, or television. What do all of these devices have in common? They all emit damaging blue light which leads to eye fatigue, dry eye syndrome, and even macular degeneration and loss of night vision.

Our BlueShield coating protects your child’s eyes from this harmful blue light simultaneously providing a more comfortable viewing experience. Added bonus: our BlueShield coated lenses are clear and do not boast the traditional yellow tint that computer glasses are known for. BlueShield is also scratch and smudge resistant and helps reduce glare.

Transitions or Photochromic: Transitions is the brand that popularized photochromic lenses, lenses which lighten and darken according to light conditions. Transitions lenses are excellent for children for a number of reasons. First, instead of asking a child to care for a pair of prescription glasses and sunglasses, you’ve only got to keep track of one pair as Transitions lenses serve as both glasses and sunglasses. Second, for school-aged kids who enjoy time both inside the classroom and outside on the playground, you can rest assured that your son or daughter’s eyes are corrected so he or she can play and learn safely. Finally, Transitions lenses are excellent for kids who play sports as these lenses will adapt perfectly to light conditions whether inside or outside.

There are three main types of transitions lenses: Adaptive, Xtractive, and Vantage.

Adaptive: This is your standard clear to tinted Transitions lens. These lenses will start as a completely clear lens indoors or at night, and will darken to your choice of grey, brown, or grey-green in direct sunlight.

Xtractive: Xtractive Transitions were created to darken in the car and to transition from light to dark and dark to light faster than standard Adaptive’s. In addition to darkening while in the car, these lenses also carry a very slight hint of tint at their clearest, offering an additional barrier of protection for indoor use. This tint is so faint, we find it unnoticeable but worth mentioning. Currently available in clear to grey and clear to brown tints.

Vantage: The Vantage Transitions lens is the world’s first lens which polarizes as it darkens. This means that your child can enjoy comfortable unobstructed vision while working at the computer as well as glare-diminishing polarized lenses when outside. The Vantage Transitions are only available in clear to grey at this time.

Polarization reduces glare from the sun as it reflects off of water, snow, ice, or pavement. Polarization also improves optical clarity and color vibrance.

Mirror Finish: While mirror finishes aren’t as popular on prescription eyeglasses, many people enjoy the benefits of a mirrored lens with Transitions. Mirror finishes serve three main functions: aesthetics/looks, repel glare, and boost contrast. On a Transitions lens, the mirror will look like a shiny anti-reflective coating when clear, allowing people to see your child’s eyes through the lens. As the lens darkens, the mirror finish becomes opaque meaning their eyes will be hidden from lookers on.

Whenever a mirror coating is applied to the front of a lens, a backside anti-reflective coating is added to prevent reflected light from becoming trapped behind the lens for distraction-free wear.

If you have any other questions about which lenses and coatings are best for your child, we would love to be of further assistance! Please reach us via email or phone with additional questions at info@saltcityoptics.com or 888-507-1230.