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How Are Eyeglass Lens’ Edges Polished?

Shu Kie

Written By:

Shu Kie

Updated: 03 February 2023 •  

For the most part, we wear eyeglasses to correct our eyesight, and they have become a necessity for many of us.
 
That said, it never hurts to take things up a notch and make our bespectacled lives as aesthetically pleasing as they can be.
 
On that note, have you heard of polished lens edges? Nope? If your curiosity is piqued, you’ve come to the right place as we’re delving into what it is, how it’s done, and whether it’s a viable option for you and your specs.

What are polished lens edges?

If you’ve seen or worn rimless or rimlon (frames with only top or bottom eyewires) glasses, you might’ve noticed that the edges of the lens usually have a matte finish and a cloudy, frosted look.
 
That is to say, exposed lens edges usually appear kind of dull.
 
two pieces of unpolished lens with frosted finish

Unpolished lens edges with their original matte, frosted finish. Source: WestEnd Eye Care

 
On the other hand, if the edges are actually polished, it results in a transparent and shiny finish that is almost crystal-like. This makes them more pleasing to the eyes and is the reason why many eyeglass wearers opt for lens edge polishing.
 
a piece of polished lens that look shiny and transparent

Polished lens edges with a shiny and transparent look. Source: WestEnd Eye Care

 
Lens edge polishing is possible for various lens materials, so whether your frames are plastic or metal, you can get it done.
 
It is most commonly done for people with high prescriptions, as they normally wear thicker lenses that protrude outside of the frame. Polishing helps the edges appear thinner than they actually are.
 

How are lens edges polished?

Fabricating lenses comprises two major stages: surfacing (generation, fining and polishing, and hard coat) and finishing (edging, mounting, and inspection).
 
Polishing the lens’ edges is a treatment that happens right before they are mounted on the eyeglass frame. It is done through a polishing machine (lens edge polisher). Commonly, opticians utilize a polishing wheel (or a buffing wheel) to attain the desired lustrous finish.
 
a manual polishing machine for polishing lenses

A manual polishing machine. Source: Machine Mart

 
The buffing wheel is how polishers manually achieve the polished effect for lens edges. It is usually paired with a polishing compound.
 
In a controlled manner, the edges of the lens get oscillated against the rotating wheel as its dull edges are smoothened and its cutting lines are removed. Occasional application (pressing) of some polishing compound to the rotating wheel helps achieve the sheen and glossiness.
 
For this method, it is important to avoid putting too much pressure and holding the lens too long in one place as these may cause the edges to burn, resulting in marks that may be hard to remove. Therefore, pressure must be just firm enough and lenses must be kept moving from one side to another in order to achieve an even luster.
 
The thicker the lenses are, the longer it takes to buff them.
 
an automatic lens edge polisher

An automatic lens edge polisher with adjustable levels. Source: OptiSource

 
There is a more convenient way to conduct the process, however, and that is with an automatic lens edge polisher. All it takes is inserting the lens, setting the time, and voila! The rest is just waiting as the machine will automatically rotate the lens for an even polish.
 

Pros of having polished lens edges

woman wearing a pair of rimless glasses with polished lenses

Rimless or semi-rimless glasses look more aesthetically pleasing when the lens edges are polished.

 

They’re more aesthetically pleasing

 
Prescription glasses don’t have to cramp your style. On the contrary, they should elevate it, and that’s what lens edge polishing can do for you.
 
As we mentioned earlier, polishing works best for rimless or semi-rimless spectacles. At Mouqy, all glasses with these two types of frames are automatically polished, so that’s one less thing to worry about.
 
Here are some of our recommended designs to get you inspired:
 
zen rectangle tortoise front view

Mouqy’s tortoiseshell rectangular browline Zen frames

 
classy rectangle black gold front view

Mouqy’s black and golden rectangular Classy specs

 
dapper rectangle black front view

Mouqy’s black rectangular Dapper glasses

 
innocent oval silver front view

Mouqy’s oval silver Innocent eyeglasses

 

Polished lens edges are good for high prescriptions

 
man wearing a pair of round glasses for strong prescription with thick lenses

Eyeglasses with thick, high prescription lenses benefit the most from polishing as it makes them appear thinner.

 
High-prescription glasses usually have lenses that are so thick they jut out of the frame. Polishing the edges can help, as it adds transparency to the lenses and shifts attention away from how thick they are.
 
One thing to note: certain frames accommodate thicker lenses better than others. Here are some pointers for picking out the best frames for high-prescription lenses.
 

Cons of having polished lens edges

a woman wearing a pair of rimless glasses with polished lens using her phone with excessive light shone in her face

Polished lens edges can be more light-reflective.

 

Could cause distracting light reflections and glares

 
While lens edge polishing makes your glasses look more, well, polished, it may also make you uncomfortable due to an increase in internal light reflections and distracting glares. A clear edge surface allows more light to enter the lenses, causing optical aberration which disrupts your vision.
 
Fortunately there is a way to minimize this, and that’s by adding a layer of anti-reflective coating to your lenses. This way, unnecessary light reflections can be avoided and everyday life with glasses will be bearable again.
 

Driving at night can be hazardous

 
man driving while wearing glasses with polished lens

High-reflective lenses can get dangerous especially when driving.

 
When you’re driving at night, headlights and traffic lights come at you from all directions, putting a lot of glare in your line of sight.
 
As such, it becomes difficult to see clearly and worse, navigate and steer safely while driving.
 
During the day, glare can also be a problem when the sun shines extra brightly. Once again, anti-reflective or anti-glare coating for your lenses will save the day.
 

How to decide if polished lens edges are right for you

So, with all this talk about how appealing it is to have your lenses’ edges polished, there’s still more to consider by asking yourself the right questions, like:
 

  • Have you worn rimless or semi-rimless glasses before?
  •  

  • Have you experienced any distracting reflections or rainbows while wearing them?
  •  

  • If not, will you like how they look on you?
  •  

  • Does your current prescription require it?

 
That aside, comfort is also a vital factor to take into account. Your glasses are a necessity that you’ll likely have to wear for life, so make sure they actually feel good above everything else.
 

So, are polished lens edges right for you?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for polished lens edges, so if you’re unsure, it is best to consult your optometrist to get a more in-depth understanding of whether they’re right for you.
 
Before you go, you might want to learn more about the different types of lenses out there too.
 
If you do decide at the end of the day that polished lens edges are right for you, swing by Mouqy anytime as we polish all lens edges for rimless and semi-rimless eyeglasses.

Shu Kie

Written by:

Shu Kie

Shu Kie is Mouqy’s certified optician with over 5 years of experience in the optical industry. She earned her certification from Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO).

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