How to choose lenses for your glasses

Posted by En Ming Ong on

Whether you're getting glasses or sunglasses, the most important part of the process is choosing the right lenses because they help you see and protect your eyes!

In this guide, you will learn about different kinds of lenses and how to choose the best ones for your needs.

With this knowledge, you will be able to make an informed decision the next time you have to choose between bifocal and progressive lenses and other confusing lens options.

More lens coatings are not always better than fewer, so read on to learn how to choose the best lenses for your next pair of glasses or sunglasses!

Table of Contents

  1. Prescription Types
  2. Lens Coatings
  3. Lens Indexes

Prescription Types

Single Vision Distance

Single vision distance lenses correct nearsightedness, or myopia, and help you see things that are further away. About 40% of adults in the U.S. and Europe and 80% of people living in Asia require single vision distance lenses.

Single Vision Reading

Single vision reading lenses help you see things up close, like a book. Most people start needing to use reading glasses as they approach 50.


Unlike single vision lenses, which correct only one field of vision — either distance or reading but not both — bifocal lenses help you see both near and far.

Designed for individuals who want to combine their reading and distance prescriptions into a single lens, bifocal lenses eliminate the need for two pairs of glasses.


Similar to bifocal lenses, progressive lenses correct both distance and reading prescriptions but also accommodate an intermediate visual field, offering your eyes a gradual shift from distance correction to near correction.

Another benefit of progressive lenses is that they don't have any visible lines delineating the near and far fields of vision.

Lens Coatings

Anti-scratch coating

As its name implies, an anti-scratch coating adds scratch-resistance to your lenses from everyday wear and tear.

Anti-reflective Coating

Do you ever see your own reflection, usually of your cheeks, when wearing sunglasses with the sun behind you?

An anti-reflection (AR) coating will add a layer to the back side of your sunglasses lenses to lessen reflections like those described above.

Whereas sunglasses lenses are tinted and do not need anti-reflection on the front, normal glasses lenses can have anti-reflection coatings on the front to make it easier for others to see your eyes.

Mirrored Coating

Unlike an anti-reflective coating, which seeks to eliminate reflection, a mirrored coating gives the front of your lenses maximum reflectivity, making it all but impossible for others to see your eyes.

Photochromic Coating

A photochromic coating, commonly described as transition lenses, changes the tint of your lenses when your are outdoors.

When you are indoors, your lenses will be clear, but when you are outside and exposed to direct sunlight, the lenses will darken, functioning as regular sunglasses lenses.

UV Coating

A must-have whether you're wearing sunglasses or regular glasses, a UV coating blocks 100% of UVA/UVB rays from reaching your eyes.

Polarised Coating

A polarised coating cuts glare. You can learn more about the difference between polarized and non-polarized lenses here.

Blue-light-blocking Coating

A blue-light-blocking coating prevents blue light, which refers to light with wavelengths of 405 to 450 nm, from reaching your eyes.

Purported benefits of blue-light-blocking lenses include less eye strain from digital screens and better sleep.

Lens Index

As a general rule, the higher your lens index, the thinner and lighter your lenses will be. If you have a low prescription under -3.00, regular 1.50 index lenses will suffice.

SPH (your degree)
Recommended Lens Index
0.00 to -3.00
1.50 or 1.56
-3.25 to -6.00
-5.25 to -8.00 1.67
-8.25 onwards 1.74

To learn more about lens indexes, check out our guide here.


If you've made it this far, you should have a better understanding of the various lens options and be able to make an informed decision when choosing lenses for your next pair of glasses or sunglasses!

With advancements in technology, the lens industry continues to release new lens options, but the ones above are the most common and should provide you with a strong foundation the next time your optometrist tries to pitch you on a new lens.

← Older Post Newer Post →



The best cycling sunglasses: 3 brands to know

By En Ming Ong

When cycling, sunglasses are essential. Apart from protecting your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays, cycling sunglasses will shield your face from all sorts of dust...

Read more

The best sports sunglasses: 5 brands we love

By En Ming Ong

Are you in the market for sports sunglasses? Unlike fashion or lifestyle sunglasses, sports sunglasses need to be lightweight and snug so they stay on...

Read more