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Gafas vs Lentes – What Is The Difference Between Them?

If you are learning Spanish then you might be wondering what is the difference between gafas and lentes?

Are they synonyms? Is there a difference? Do different countries use different words? 

Don’t worry, this post will explain everything you need to know about these two Spanish words.

Gafas vs Lentes – What’s The Difference?

The short answer is that both gafas and lentes mean ‘glasses’. 

They can generally be used interchangeably but there is a slight difference in meaning. Let’s take a look…

Gafas refers to anything that you use to cover your eyes including eyeglasses, sunglasses and goggles.

In comparison, lentes generally refers to glasses that are just used to correct your vision and can also refer to the individual lenses in the glasses.

For example, we use gafas in the term gafas de sol (sunglasses) as sunglasses are used to cover your eyes but are not used to correct vision. 

We can use gafas to refer to eyeglasses, sunglasses (gafas de sol), goggles (gafas de bucear) and more.

Lentes is usually only used to refer to corrective eyeglasses but can also refer to the individual lenses that form part of a pair of glasses.

Seems simple right? Well…

Usage In Different Countries

To complicate things a little, different Spanish-speaking countries tend to use gafas and lentes in different contexts and the above rules don’t always apply.

Latin American countries tend to favor lentes and you’ll hear it a lot when referring to any type of glasses including eyeglasses and even sometimes sunglasses.

Spain tends to favor gafas and you’ll hear this much more often than lentes. In Spain, lentes is generally just used to refer to the lenses within a pair of glasses.

The key thing to remember is that both gafas and lentes mean ‘glasses’ and you’ll be understood by Spanish speakers no matter which one you use. 

Anteojos and Espejuelos

As if that wasn’t enough, there are also other Spanish words that can be used to refer to glasses. 

Let’s take a look at them.


Anteojos usually refers to regular glasses or spectacles, in particular, prescription glasses that correct vision.

Anteojos can also refer to a pair of binoculars in some countries. 

Anteojos is much more uncommon compared with lentes/gafas and sounds more formal and old-fashioned.

If you use the word anteojos to refer to a pair of glasses, many Spanish speakers will think of a really old-fashioned pair of spectacles.


Espejuelos can also be used to refer to a pair of glasses used to help you see better. 

This word can also be used to refer to the individual lenses used in a pair of glasses.

Espejuelos is much more uncommon than gafas/lentes and is rarely used.

Thanks for reading this post which covers the difference between lentes and gafas. 

These words are essentially synonyms but do have slight differences in meanings. 

You may also hear one or the other more frequently in different countries.

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