High optical clarity and durable properties which include scratch resistance, CR-39, ophthalmic grade plastic, is the preferred choice of lens material in prescription eyewear and used in all of RENEE’S READERS reading eyewear.
Plastic CR-39 lenses are made from high-quality raw materials that are manufactured using technically advanced processes. The name CR-39 comes from the Columbia Resin Chemical Company who invented it in 1942 and because it was their 39th formulation.
CR-39 maintains its material properties such as a consistently clear state, lens stability and has the highest scratch resistance of any uncoated optical plastic. Since all plastics do scratch, it’s good to apply a hard coat to increase its scratch resistance- which we do.
Polycarbonate is another ophthalmic lens material used in reading glasses. You will find it in rimless and very thin frame readers whose frame design requires lens strength and impact resistance. Chromatic aberrations are higher and with an Abbe Value of 30 (a measure of clarity), polycarbonate has poor optical clarity.
Acrylic lenses, whose technical name is poly methyl acrylate, have become customary in most ready-made reading glasses. The index of refraction (1.49) and the Abbe value (58) are the same for both acrylic and CR-39 so in itself as a plastic material they should offer the same clarity.
The discernible difference between these two plastic materials lie in their characteristics and in the manufacturing process of the lenses themselves.
Acrylic is by nature, flexible. This makes acrylic optical lens surfaces prone to irregularities so that its use for reading lenses is not optimal. A smooth and uniform lens surface is especially important in reading clearly as it creates a direct, uninterrupted path for visual images- making reading clear, effortless and comfortable. If the lens surface is irregular, your reading will become struggled ultimately causing eye strain.
CR-39 lenses have excellent optics and lens integrity does not change over time. They do not flex as acrylic lenses and they do not scratch as easily.
There is no comparison for the optical clarity of our CR-39 ophthalmic plastic lenses that go through several rounds of inspections before they are edged into a frame and after the lenses are inserted into that frame they are checked again for compliance with optical standards. You will not find acrylic lenses in an optical lab and they are not used for prescription lenses in any optical store.
Our reading glasses, both frame and lenses are optical store quality- you will notice the difference.