The following chart compares the price, index, and optical performance (Abbe value) of various lens materials available on sites such as Zenni and EyeBuyDirect.
Higher Abbe values mean less chromatic aberration – i.e. color fringing – which is especially noticeable when looking through the sides of a lens. Prices for Zenni and EBD include anti-reflective coatings.
Looking at the chart, here are some conclusions I would draw:
- Do not buy 1.59-index polycarbonate lenses. Either pay a few dollars extra to upgrade to the 1.6 lenses, or save some money and go with the 1.57. Both options have significantly better optical performance.
- CR-39 (1.5 index) is awesome and cheap. Do not consider anything else unless your myopia is worse than -3.00, maybe even -4.00.
- 1.57 lenses from Zenni are a steal. Choose them if you’re on an extremely tight budget and CR-39 is not an option.
- Trivex from Zenni is overpriced. 1.6 lenses are cheaper, quite a bit thinner, and almost as good optically.
- 1.6 lenses are probably the best option for most people with mid-to-high myopia (unless your myopia is really high and/or you absolutely need the thinnest possible lens).
I got polycarbonate lenses on one pair and I regret it – the fringing is very annoying. I made this chart in hopes of helping others avoid the same mistake.
Here is the data the chart is based on:
|CR-39||1.498||1.50||59||$0 + $4.95*||$0 + $6.95*|
|Trivex||1.527||1.53||44||$29.95 + $4.95*||N/A|
|Essilor Ormex||1.558||1.57||37||$0 + $4.95*||$16.95|
|Polycarbonate||1.586||1.59||30||$9 + $4.95*||$18.95|
|MR-6/MR-8||1.592||1.6/1.61||36/41||$19.95 + $4.95*||$25.95|
|MR-10||1.661||1.67||32||$34.95 + $4.95*||$40.95|
|MR-174||1.732||1.74||33||$74.95 + $4.95*||$84.95|
*Additional cost for basic anti-reflective coating.
Sources below. Please let me know if you notice any inaccuracies.