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What is Optical Lens?

Custom optical lens

We all know the fundamentals and the basic knowledge of optical lenses, but have you really ever asked yourself, “what is optical lens?” Most of us know it by heart, but some can’t really wrap their head around what the topic is.

So, in this guide, we will go through optical lenses completely. We won’t miss out any information that might be useful, and so, we’ll provide the necessary data and information about optical lenses, so that you don’t have to look for them any longer!

What is Optical Lens?

Figure 1: An image of a single optical lens

Since we have the grasp of what an optical lens is, it’s easy for us to identify. However, for the benefit of everyone, an optical lens is a type of optical component that’s used to direct the light that passes through it to different directions.

In simpler terms, optical lenses are materials that are made from plastic or glass (or combined), commonly used as transparent instruments for forming images through the movement and positioning of the rays of light.

What Do Optical Lenses Do?

Figure 2: A vertically-aligned optical lens

Through a more scientific approach, optical lenses help by either diverging or converging light produced from a peripheral object. These then form the image of an object.

To give you an example, imagine the lens of a camera. Without it, an image wouldn’t be captured since there’s no way for the rays of light to reach the subject directly, hence, there’ll be difficulty in the identification of the subject.

How Do Lenses Function?

The main function of the lens is to diverge or converge light to a single focal point (subject) to be able to produce an image. Through the combination of a concave and a convex lens, aberration correction occurs, allowing the image or the subject to be straight and not inverted.

If you want to learn more about chromatic aberration, focal points, and anything related to optical lenses and how they function, you can check out Canon Imaging Asia’s video that discusses it!

What are Optical Lenses Made Of?

Figure 3: A pair of polycarbonate optical lenses

Optical lenses aren’t made from a single piece or type of material. The most common include:

  • Glass
  • High-Index Polymers (Polymers)
  • Polycarbonates
  • Polyethylene
  • Trivex

All of these have varying uniqueness and characteristics that make them unique in the functionality that they have.

Why Do We Need Lenses?

Lenses are essential in various industries for manipulating and focusing light. Imagine a world without lens, you wouldn’t be able to read this information in the first place.

In healthcare, they correct vision anomalies in eyeglasses, while in photography, lenses capture and magnify images through the manipulation of light. Industries like telecommunications rely on lenses for optical fiber construction, enabling efficient data transmission.

Scientific instruments, such as microscopes and telescopes, utilize lenses for precise observation. Lenses also play a key role in entertainment through cameras, projectors, and virtual reality devices.

So, yes, they are important. Their applications span from the simplest act of enhancing visual clarity to the ever-complex contribution to laser systems for precise cutting in manufacturing.

How Are Optical Lenses Used?

Figure 4: Optical lenses are used in many different ways, depending on the industry

Oftentimes, optical lenses are used for the purpose of focusing light to be able to magnify, produce images, correct optical aberrations, and to project the subject. In other words, optical lenses control either the convergence or divergence of light in industries like instrumentation, laser applications, photography, and microscopy.

What are the Types of Optical Lenses?

Figure 5: Three different types of optical lenses according to their shape

There are numerous ways of classifying optical lenses, but among these classifications, the most common would be by their shape. So, the following are the most common types of optical lenses:

Concave Lenses

Probably the most common type of lenses out there, concave lenses are the lenses that curve inward. They efficiently spread-out parallel light rays. More so, they are widely used for the correction of nearsightedness and are crucial components in eyeglasses and certain optical devices.

Overall, they ensure precise vision by diverging incoming light properly.

Convex Lenses

The opposite of concave lenses are convex lenses. Convex lenses are curved outward and they converge parallel light. They’re the best in facilitating applications like magnifying glasses and addressing farsightedness in corrective lenses.

Thanks to their functionality of converging light, they are fundamental pieces in optical instruments that enhance visual clarity and focus.

Plano-Concave Lenses

Convex and concave lenses are among the most basic ones, but have you ever heard of plano-concave lenses? These are the lenses that feature a flat side and an inwardly curved side and their main purpose is to diverge light efficiently and effectively.

This unique design finds application in a ton of business sectors and industries, including beam expansion setups and optical systems requiring controlled dispersion because they contribute to image clarity and precision.

Plano-Convex Lenses

Plano-convex is the exact opposite of plano-concave. Instead of an inward curve with a flat side, plano-convex lenses have a flat side with a slightly outward curved side and is used for converging the light that passes through it.

They’re widely used in applications of magnification and imaging systems. Furthermore, they play a crucial role in capturing and enhancing visual information, making them indispensable in various optical setups

Double-Concave Lenses

Double-concave lenses are two inwardly curved surfaces that excel at diverging light. They are typically applied in situations that require light dispersion.

These lenses help and contribute to the expanding beams, correcting myopic vision and ensuring accurate representation in optical systems.

Double-Convex Lenses

Last but most definitely not least in this list are double-convex lenses. Boasting dual outwardly curved surfaces, double-convex lenses efficiently converge light.

Double-convex lenses are Integral components to magnifiers and imaging systems. They play a heavily crucial role in focusing and enhancing visual elements, making them essential in applications that have a high demand of accuracy and precise optical performance.

NOTE: These aren’t the only ways of classifying and categorizing optical lenses. There are other lens types that are common, such as anti-reflective lenses, UV lenses, and others!

How Are Optical Lenses Made?

Optical lenses are manufactured and produced differently. Instead of strictly following a step-by-step process, several manufacturers and suppliers follow their own set of rules and methodologies.

However, if we were to give you the typical process of how they’re produced, here’s how it’s made.

Step #1: Finalizing the Concept and Design

The first step is to make sure of the design and the structure of the lenses. Engineers will create the blueprint, specify the measurements and dimensions, finalize the curvature, and come up with the materials based on the lens’s intended purpose.

Step #2: Selection and Gathering of the Materials

After the design, the next step would be to select and gather the materials to be used. High-quality optical glass or plastics are the ones usually chosen and used because they’re the ones that for sure have clarity and durability.

NOTE: The selected material will depend on the application, industry, and the lens type to be manufactured.

Step #3: Cutting, Forming, and Shaping

When done, the material will be shaped, formed, and cut based on the desired shape. It’ll usually be a rough lens blank and will just be cut. More often than not, advanced machineries and equipment like CNC machines are used to ensure the accuracy and precision with the cutting and forming.

Step #4: Grinding and Smoothing of Edges

When it’s cut, and shaped according to the requirement, the next step would be to grind and smooth the edges out initially. The rough lens undergoes the necessary grinding to achieve the exact curvature specified in the design, refining its optical properties.

Step #5: Polishing

After grinding and smoothing, polishing follows. Most manufactures use fine abrasives to smooth the lens’ surface and eliminate any imperfections from the grinding process.

Step #6: Coating

Thet next step would be to coat the optical lens depending on what the client requires. It can be any coating from anti-reflective coating, scratch-resistant coating, or other coatings depending on the application.

Step #7: Checking and Quality Control

The next step would be to inspect and check the quality of the newly-manufactured lenses. Rigorous testing would verify if the lens meets the optical standards. They would also check for aberrations, clarity, and if it adheres to the design specifications.

Step #8: Edging

Now, the next step would be to curve and specify the edge depending on the application. If the lens is for eyewear, it will undergo the necessary edging to efficiently fit frames and other components.

Step #9: Packaging and Delivery

Last but most definitely not least is to package and deliver the products to the clients. They will be packaged in a way where they wouldn’t move and rattle inside the crate or the box when they’re in transit.

Check this video out to see how Canon lenses are made and manufactured!

What is Optical Lens For Glasses?

Optical lenses for glasses or for the eyewear industry is similar throughout all other industries and applications. They’re these transparent optical components that either diverge or converge the light that pass through them.

Mainly used for correcting vision, optical lenses are an integral part of eyewear because it is what makes these eyewear devices effective in the first place.

Are Optical Lens Present in a Microscope?

Yes, microscopes use the combination of lenses and light to successfully and clearly enlarge the image. Called a light microscope or an optical, the same idea applies for binoculars, telescopes, and other vision-altering devices.

In case you’re not aware, the simplest and easiest optical microscope is the magnifying glass. It’s able to magnify and enlarge images up to ten times its normal size.

What are the Applications of an Optical Lens?

Figure 6: A pair of optical lenses that have different purposes

Optical lenses find diverse applications across many different industries. They are crucial for shaping and manipulating light. In the field of healthcare, lenses play a pivotal role in eyeglasses, correcting vision anomalies such as nearsightedness or farsightedness.

Among the many applications of optical lenses, the other common applications include:

  • Eyewear like reading glasses, sunglasses, and spectacles
  • Devices like binoculars, magnifying glass units, microscopes, and telescopes
  • Light and images sectors for correct optical aberrations
  • Projectors
  • Cameras and phones
  • Biotechnology
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • And many more!

Optical lens units are exceptional pieces of items that can be used in flexible and versatile applications. They’re not just limited to these applications above, but also other markets and applications, too.

Convex Lens vs. Concave Lens

Convex and concave lenses are among the most common and most-used types and kinds of lenses. In reality, their only differences lie on their shape and use. Other than that, though, here’s a table that can help you identify some of their differences in terms of application, too.

Convex Lens

Concave Lens

Curved outward and is thicker at the center and is used to converge light.

Curved inward and is thinner at the center and is used to diverge light.

Applications are often used for camera lenses and magnification, projectors, objective lenses for telescopes, eyepieces, and others.

Applications are often used for eyeglasses and nearsightedness correction, optical instruments, beam expansion for laser systems, binoculars, and others.

So, to summarize, convex lenses, with their outward curvature, are commonly used in image and magnification equipment such as cameras and projectors for converging light. In corrective lenses, they correct farsightedness.

Concave lenses, on the other hand, with their inward curvature, are critical for diverging light for specialized optical applications such as correcting nearsightedness in eyeglasses or aiding beam extension in laser systems. They provide flexibility in vision correction and optical devices.

Optical Lens Price: How Much Are Optical Lenses?

The rates and prices for optical lenses vary on the brand, material used, as well as the shape and its overall quality. Purchasing optical lenses for eyewear would probably be the most common because it’s the one closest to the consumer.

Other than eyewear optical lenses, camera and photographic optical lenses are those that come next. If you were to do a checkup on the market, optical lenses, you would see that it costs anywhere between $0.10 to $50, some can even go as high as $100.

The reason for the lucrative lenses would be the shape. Clear optical plano-concave lenses usually go for $20 to $30, while fused silica prism lenses can go as high as $80 to $100.

If you want to be sure of the rates and prices, the best thing to do is to contact your optical lens manufacturer and inquire about it.

What Do Optical Lenses Mean in Cameras?

For cameras, the optical lens is the transparent component that allows the refraction and transmission of light, contributing to the generated image. In other words, it is the big piece of transparent material that comes out of the front part of the camera.

Photography experts manipulate components of the camera to make light creep in faster or slower onto the lenses, providing transformative images for the subject or result.

Which Optical Lens Manufacturer Can You Trust?

There are tons of optical lens manufacturers in the market today, and most of them are actually not at part with global standards. If you want world-class quality optical lens units, going with either a European or an American company is a good way to go.

The problem is, their products and services are extremely expensive. You’ll be able to find Asian and Middle-Eastern manufacturers, but the quality might not be at par with what you’re looking for. The Chinese market has been on fire for the past few decades, and one of the country’s leading manufacturers is us here at GLASHern.

Why Choose GLASHern For Your Optical Lenses?

Our team here at GLASHern are comprised of China’s best, most-trusted, and most-relied on junior engineers, glassmaking experts, and skilled operators and workers. We’re able to provide all the types and kinds of optical lenses you need for whatever the project you require.

All our products undergo extensive quality control and assurance to make sure that it is within the requirements our clients need.

  • Our lead time is fast and short, we can deliver everything you’re looking for in less than 60 days
  • We have a Research & Development (R&D) group who are all ready to help you produce the optical lenses you’re looking for
  • Our team uses highly-advanced, state-of-the-art technology for glassmaking from the mixture of the materials down to the polishing
  • We’re employed with some of the best glassmaking experts and engineers in China
  • We have a dependable and reliable customer service department that can guide you all throughout your journey and experience with us


Other than optical lenses, you can place your complete trust in us here at GLASHern for other glass products such as quartz glass, Gorilla Glass, anti-reflective glass, decorative glass, and many more!

Check out the complete list of our products through our website! Reach out and contact us and we will send a free estimate of all the items you need over.

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