OCT 22

Why Are High Index Lenses So Expensive?

Whether you are a first-time or repeat purchaser of eyeglasses, you may have heard of high index lenses. High index lenses can be an excellent choice for your new pair of glasses, yet you may hesitate to make the purchase because of one word: costs. Generally speaking, high index lenses are more expensive than your standard plastic pair of lenses. You may find the costs so expensive that any feature is negated by the damage that it will do to your wallet. This is true even if you are especially attracted to things like the inherent thin nature of high index lenses.

Because of this, if you are a budget-conscious purchaser or are simply curious, it is worthwhile to explore why high index lenses are so expensive. While you don’t necessarily need to know all the technical reasons why understanding some of the market dynamics and manufacturing practices can be insightful when you are shopping for your next pair of lenses.

In this article, you will learn why high index lenses are so expensive. With this knowledge in hand, you can better understand the value of high index lenses and make a more educated decision on whether you want to actually purchase them.

An Introduction to High Index Lenses and Their High Costs

High index lenses, if you don’t already know, are lenses that have a higher refractive index than their counterparts. But let’s take one step back. All types of lenses correct refractive errors by bending light as the light passes through the lens. One of the main benefits of high index lenses is that they bend light more efficiently.

This is signified by a higher refractive index than other types of lenses. While conventional plastic lenses may have a refractive index of about 1.50, the refractive index of high index lenses ranges from about 1.53 to 1.74. Higher refractive indexes are generally helpful for wearers who have strong prescriptions.

Along with this, high index lenses are able to bend light more efficiently and cater to strong prescriptions (in part) because of how they are made. They are typically made from a chemical synthetic blend, and this material can be up to a significant 50 percent thinner than plastic or regular glass lenses. These lenses are noticeably thinner—both to you and to the people that you encounter in your day-to-day life.

Why does all of this matter? Ultimately, high index lenses are more expensive than other types of lenses due to their inherent material. The material that is used to produce high index lenses is from a chemical synthetic blend, and the cost to simply produce sheets of the material is high.

The raw cost of these materials is higher than the alternatives, and the costs only increase as you purchase high index lenses with a higher refractive index. Therefore, if you are looking for the thinnest possible high index lenses, it is difficult to avoid the highest costs due to the raw materials of these lenses.

Along with the inherent material and makeup of high index lenses, a smaller margin of error contributes to the higher costs of these lenses. To reiterate, one of the main benefits of high index lenses is that they are so thin.

Their inherent thinness creates a much better wearing experience. Your glasses will feel less heavy on your face. You won’t need to squint or adjust the glasses on your face in order to feel more comfortable. You can also avoid the so-called “bug-eyed” or “tiny eyed” look that results from wearing thicker lenses. These benefits, for the most part, come from the inherent thinness of high index lenses.

All of this is well and good. But having said this, the thin nature of high index lenses allow for a lower margin of error. When constructing these lenses, a variance as small as 0.1 millimeters can cause technicians to discard the lens at the testing stage.

To fill the perfect prescription, a lab may need to make more than one lens. This extra work adds to the overall costs of high index lenses.

In sum, more craftmanship is involved than simply ordering a pair of plastic or glass lenses. The chemical synthetic blend that comprises high index lenses is also more difficult to cut. This is due to the stronger and denser properties of the material, meaning that several attempts may need to be made.

This added work and smaller scope of error can lead to extra work and, overall, higher prices for manufacturers of high index lenses. Unfortunately, these costs are not absorbed by the manufacturer. Instead, they are simply passed on to you, the consumer.

Finally, as with other types of products, high index lenses are also more expensive than other types of lenses because of marketing. High index lenses are a fairly recent product.

A significant amount of work went into these lenses and they are marketed as offering a better experience for eyeglass wearers with strong prescriptions. While these benefits are indeed real, this better experience can be used to mark up these lenses.

At Rx-Safety, we sell high index lenses at some of the most competitive prices on the market today. We understand that high index lenses can naturally be expensive, yet they provide many different types of benefits to wearers. Because of this, we strip away this marketing premium and ensure that you are paying the best possible price for your next pair of high index lenses.

An Investment In Your Eyeglasses

High index lenses are expensive for a variety of reasons. As with many things in life, however, a higher-priced product typically signals a higher quality product. For as expensive as they may be, high index lenses are thinner, lighter, and more aesthetically pleasing. They can feel less burdensome on your face and can help you avoid the bug-eyed or tiny eyed look that you may find in conventional plastic lenses.

All of these benefits—combined together—may make this investment worthwhile for you. As with purchasing any type of product, however, we encourage you to complete your own research. Examine the pros and cons of high index lenses and determine whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Doing so will significantly increase the odds that you make the right decision here. 

We at Rx-Safety are proud to offer high index lenses for nearly every pair of frames in our inventory. If you are interested in making this type of investment, we are happy to work with you so that you are fully satisfied. To learn more about high index lenses or to ask questions about anything mentioned in this article, don’t hesitate to click on the “contact” tab on the top part of this page.

  1. Barry says:

    Aside from appearance issues, will a hi index lense give any clearer vision or any less distortion in viewing, than a polycarb lense?
    Also same question when comparing 2 hi index lenses with different refractions.

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