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Bill MacGillivray , Master Optician
Director of EyeHealth Northwest Optical Shops and Lab

"I’ve been in optics for over 30 years, and have a lot of experience in lens materials and coatings. The products I have chosen for Eye Health Northwest to offer you are the best on today’s market for quality and performance. We go through an extensive process where we put these products to the test before we ever offer them for sale in any of our stores so you the customer benefit from getting top quality merchandise. Let us help you cut through all the confusing choices, all the marketing hype, and get you quality products that will help improve your sight and quality of your life .

If the eyes are the windows to your soul, what does that make your glasses? Offering clarity and focus to your life your glasses are at the least a very useful tool.

There are many different types of lenses on today’s market. When an Eye Health Northwest Physician makes recommendations, and one of Eye Health’s Certified Opticians fills your prescription, you are presented all the options getting the latest optical technology. There can be a significant improvement in your vision through your glasses when you have the right type of lens and lens treatments tailored to your individual needs.

When you combine this with precision surfacing, edging, and assembly by our very own Eye Health Northwest optical lab, you are getting more value for your money than most other optical stores could ever hope to offer."

Here are some of the lens types, materials, and treatments about which you should know:

Lens Types


The first lens material used for eyewear, glass dates back to the Chinese and Romans and is still used today. It still has some of the purest optics of all materials and a high degree of scratch resistance, but it is the most brittle, easiest to chip, crack, or shatter, and is also the heaviest, which can make your glasses uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. Many of today’s modern frames are not compatible with glass, but if the conditions are right we can still process and dispense this traditional material to which many people remain loyal. Most optical stores either will not make glass lenses, or they will charge you a lot more and take an extremely long time to make the lenses out of state. We can not only offer you a fair price, but we also process glass lenses in our own lab, which insures a quicker turn-around time for you as you await your new prescription.


Compared to glass, CR-39 is new; invented in 1962 It was the first plastic to replace glass, it offered lighter weight and great optical clarity, but had a difficult time overcoming glass at first because it scratched so easily. The issue of scratching was addressed later with new technology allowing a scratch-resistant coating to be applied to the surface.

The main advantage CR-39 has over glass is the lightweight, and it does not break as easily, though it is still considered to be a brittle material compared to other resins. One of the main problems with this material is the thickness; it is much thicker than any other material used to make lenses, so therefore less desirable for most prescriptions. Most of the special deals use this material because of its availability and lower production cost. Just remember if you are not discussing other materials you may not be getting the proper material for your needs.


PolycarbonatePolycarbonate came to the optical industry in the early 1980s, and it had a lot to offer. Lighter and thinner than glass or CR-39, Polycarbonate is also nearly unbreakable. The added safety it offered was a bonus to its optical properties, but it was not without its own issues. The first generation of polycarbonate had very poor clarity, and a lot of people noticed this deficiency and were understandably dissatisfied. We can thank the music industry and the process of making CD’s for giving us the technology to filter out the impurities in polycarbonate and allowing the vision to be much sharper and clearer in the lenses we use today Because of its impact resistance and lightweight it is great for both children’s eyewear and in the workplace for safety glasses.


Hi-Index between 1987-1992 chemists and engineers were developing different types of resins to use in eyewear. The desirable property of thinner, lighter lenses evolved significantly and continues to change as time goes on. This material is great to use with drill-mount rimless lenses because of its durability and resistance to solvents. The clear optics makes it worthwhile to choose instead of polycarbonate, the most benefit will be realized in a moderate to a high prescription.


In 2001 Trivex was introduced, this material features, pure optics, resistance to solvents, superior impact resistance, and the lightest weight. One of the newest to market, you will be hearing much more about this material from now on. Eye Health Northwest Doctors and staff recommend this material especially for rimless and children’s eyewear, but it works well for everyone. With more lens manufacturers starting to produce the brands we like in Trivex material, it will soon become one of the most desirable lens materials. Generally speaking, it is not offered in chains and discount stores yet, since Eye Health Northwest has access to all the Trivex distributors, we not only offer it in all lens styles, we process Trivex in our lab to serve you in a timely manner with one of the newest and best lens materials.

Lens Treatments and Tints


A good quality Anti-Reflection treatment is something Eye Health Northwest recommends for everyone. This technology enables more light to transmit through the lenses of your eyewear, and it virtually eliminates unwanted reflections that cause annoying and distracting glare. Anti-reflection is most beneficial under low light conditions, such as reading indoors, watching TV, a movie, a play, a sporting event, or driving at night. A high-quality anti-reflection treatment starts with a “primer” coating that is both scratch-resistant and flexible enough to allow for changes caused by hot or cold weather, this provides the foundation for several different types of metal oxides to be heated, vaporized and bonded to the lens surface in super thin layers. The last important part of the process is a protective top coating that makes the lens surface extremely easy to clean. You need an expert like our certified opticians to help guide you through the choices, for better vision and a product on which you can rely.

Scratch Resistant Coating:

The scratch resistance of any plastic lens can be greatly enhanced by applying a scratch-resistant treatment to both lens surfaces. Some optical stores will apply it only to the front side of the lens, when you order from Eye Health Northwest you will get a good quality scratch-resistant coating on both sides of the lens. We recently upgraded our production facility with a state-of-the-art machine that applies the scratch-resistant coating to the lens. There are many companies and many different types of coatings on today’s market, we have tested most of them and selected the best to offer you, another reason to purchase your next lenses from an Eye Health Northwest location.

Photochromatic tints:

Transitions© is the most well-known brand of photochromatic tint, which is a lens that turns color automatically when you go outside, activated by the ultraviolet light from the sun. This is really helpful when you don’t have time to reach for your prescription sunglasses. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can really benefit from a lens like this because the sun and clouds are always taking turns, and with weather like that, it makes Transitions© extremely convenient and comfortable for your eyes. Transitions© is available in all major lens designs and materials, provides 100% ultraviolet protection, and something we definitely recommend.


Polarized lenses are unique, they feature a film that is tinted and polarized with the lens material molded around it. Since it is the polarized film that is tinted and not the lens material, the color of the lens is limited to the color they are able to dye the film. The two most popular colors are grey and brown, with some variations. To be effective, the polarized film must be tinted darkly enough to absorb light. Polarized lenses are used in sunglasses because they not only absorb light, they block additional glare from polarized light that is reflected off flat surfaces, like the road or water. They are the most effective sunglass lens made when it comes to reducing glare because of this ability, and there are several quality lenses manufactured for today’s market.

One of the newest products that are receiving rave reviews from customers is a lens called Drivewear©, a photochromatic polarized lens. Drivewear lenses change to three different colors, which were specifically made to enhance your vision while driving a car. The quality of the image and comfort you get from looking through this lens is amazing, and we recommend you look through some of our in-store samples in our optical department to experience it for yourself.

Mirror Coatings:

A mirror coating can be applied to the front surface of a lens to make it reflect light, which makes the lens darker by allowing less light to pass through the lens. Mirror coatings can be applied evenly over the entire surface, or done in a gradient or double-gradient fashion. There are many differences in quality and durability, the Eye Health opticians are trained to order only the best mirrors on the market. For the ultimate sun protection get a polarized lens with a mirror on the front side of the lens, and an anti-reflective coating on the backside. Ask our experts which sunglass frame and lens will work the best for you.

Ultraviolet Protection:

Most of today’s new lens materials have a UV inhibitor built in so you get this benefit as part of the lens. Standard plastic and glass need to be treated to protect you, but it can be done. Eye Health Northwest recommends UV protection to help protect your eyes from any adverse effects or premature aging of the eye. We test the sunglasses we sell to make sure they offer a high degree of protection, so you can wear them with confidence.


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At EyeHealth Northwest, our Opticians are committed to helping you get the best pair of glasses you have ever had. Opticians are Nationally Certified by the American Board of Opticianry and participate in ongoing continue education courses to deliver the best possible care with the most advanced technology and fashion. We can take stress out of the process, making it enjoyable for you and your family.

With more than 60 years of experience in Portland, we are now driving the Portland look by designing and curating original frame collections based on our optical expertise - Bridge City Spex. We understand the importance of individuality, functionality, and quality. The Bridge City Spex Collections can be found exclusively at our eleven EyeHealth Northwest optical shops.