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Eyeglass frames

Eyeglass frames

Eyeglass frames and sunglasses are available in a diverse array of types, shapes, sizes, and materials. Although it is difficult to assess the quality of an eyeglass frame, we discuss some of the indicators of a good or weak quality frame that apply to all frames (even designer eyeglass frames!). The more you know about eyeglass frames, the better decision you can make wherever you buy your next pair of eyeglasses.

Follow this link to our frame search function where you can sort our inventory by a variety of eyeglass frame features, in order to narrow your search.


We group eyeglass frames into three basic typesfull, half-rimless, and rimless. A full eyeglass frame has a frame that completely encircles the lens. In a half-rimless eyeglass frame there is no frame on the bottom or top of the lens. Most half-rimless frame styles have the frame on the top of the lens, but some half frames have the frame on the bottom. Half-rimless eyeglass frames that are rimless on top are usually for reading, and they are called half-eye frames (the lens sits low on your nose and the top of the lens is flat, so it looks like half a lens).

Rimless eyeglasses

Rimless eyeglass frames have no frame at all around the lens. Rimless eyeglasses come in three pieces (two temples and the nose part). The lenses are actually part of the strength of the frame, so it is important to only use polycarbonate or Trivex or high index lens material on rimless glasses. Follow this link to read more about rimless eyeglass frames.

Mounting lenses into rimless eyeglass frames is tricky and requires a skilled and experienced technician. Each lens must be drilled perfectly so that the frame fits snugly into the lens. Poorly mounted rimless eyeglasses will begin to rattle, and can eventually crack the lens. One advantage of buying rimless eye glasses online at is that our labs produce very high quality rimless mountings.

If you purchase rimless eyeglass frames and lenses at the same time from, we do not charge extra to mount the rimless lenses. However, because lenses for rimless eyeglasses require a significant amount of additional labor for installation, we do charge an additional fee to mount replacement lenses into a rimless eyeglass frames that you send us.

Half-Rimless eyeglasses

A half-rimless eyeglasses frame design has a rim on part of the frames eye holding a lens, usually on the top half. In most cases the bottom part of the lens is held in place by a nylon cord, but some frames are drill mounted so the cord is not necessary. The frame on a half-rimless frame is most commonly on the top of the lens, although occasionally it is located on the bottom of the lens.

Reading glasses

This is a generic term that refers to eyeglasses frames that hold lenses that are used only for reading (near vision). A reading lens simply magnifies objects that are close to us, like the letters in a book. Your eye doctor can determine the magnification power that is best for you, or you can figure it out by yourself through trial and error. Once you know your power, it is easy to shop for reading glasses online.

A doctors prescription is not required in order to select a reading lens. Drugstore reading glasses are simply eyeglasses frames with lenses pre-loaded in a range of magnification powers. It is usually less expensive to purchase reading eyeglasses this way, but stock lens powers may not provide a perfect vision correction. For best results, reading lenses with magnification customized to your needs can be installed in any pair of eyeglasses frames or rx-able sunglasses frames. You can also make your own sun-readers for reading at the beach just by adding tint to the lens.

Reading glasses are becoming very fashionable, and many designer eyeglass frames are now made as reading glasses. Or, you can customize a pair of regular prescription designer eyeglass frames just by adding reading lenses to them.

Computer glasses

The phrase computer glasses refers to any pair of eyeglasses frames with lenses that have a focal length set at arms length, and with anti-reflective (AR) coating. The wearer needs to measure the average distance from his/her face to the computer screen, and give that measurement to the eye doctor. The eye doctor will then prescribe an intermediate (arms-length) prescription power to be used in the lenses. The anti-reflective coating helps to reduce the glare that may come off of the computer screen.


There are thousands of subtle differences among eyeglass frame shapes, but there are two basic shapes, oval and rectangular. Follow this link to our frame search function where you can sort our inventory by frame shape and see examples. All eyeglass frames use the same system of measurements and sizing. Follow this link to get sizing information about glasses.

Whether a frame is basically rectangular or oval is in the eye of the beholder. There are thousands of gradations and subtleties, and in the end it really doesnt matter what you call a frames shape, it is whether you like it on your face or not that matters. Rectangular frames are somewhat squared off in their appearance. Modified rectangles are rectangles with softened corners. Oval frames have curves rather than lines in the outline. Most designer eyeglass frames are either round or oval shapes.

Round eyeglasses

One of the most classic (but hard to find) shapes is the round eyeglass frame. Round eyeglass frames are perfectly round. We have created our own line of round titanium eyeglass frames, using German spring hinges, that is a terrific value considering the high quality of the frame. Follow this link to see our round eyewear collection.

P3 eyeglasses

The P3 gets its name from the eyewear manufacturers, and it refers to a classic style that falls between oval and round. The top of the frame is round, and the bottom of the frame is round too but slightly pointed.

Aviator eyeglasses

The Aviator shape is named after WWII aviators who wore eyeglass frames with a distinctive shape. Each eye has a tear drop shape, with a diagonal cut from the nose down to the cheeks.

Cat Eye eyeglasses

Cat eye eyeglass frames are slightly pointed at the sides by the ears. They were very popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

Half-Eye eyeglasses

Half Eye eyeglass frames are designed to sit lower on the wearers nose, allowing the wearer to look over the top of the lens easily. Half eyes are normally used as reading glasses.

Eyeglass frames and your face shape

Facial coloring and face shape are two important factors to consider when choosing appropriate eyeglass frames. The first step is to determine your face shape (oval, round, rectangular, etc). Follow this link to read more about eyeglass frames that complement face shape.

Frame shapes can be used to accentuate or de-accentuate your facial features, depending on how you choose to express your personality. For example, if your face is basically round, round glasses would reinforce that look, and rectangular glasses would reduce the round-lookingness of your face. Follow this link to learn more about glasses and face shapes.

Frame coloring works the same way; you choose the frame color to either match or contrast with skin and hair tone, eye color, jewelry, and clothing colors. The degree to which you match or contrast will contribute to the expression of your personality and your look.

Eyeglass frame sizes

For any person, there is no one right size of glasses. Your face can accommodate a wide variety of glasses sizes and most glasses will work for most people. In order to understand why this is true, you need to look at what size means; size in glasses is a very different concept than size in shoes or clothing. As a result, you should focus most on how the glasses look on your face; when you find glasses that look good, in most cases the glasses can be adjusted to fit your face.

The rule of thumb is that the total width of the glasses front all the way across, including the endpieces, should be similar to the width of your head. This will allow for the optimum proportion of the glasses to the head, and for the best comfort. Follow this link to get sizing information about glasses.


If your prescription is under +/-4.00 sphere, your lenses will work in almost any pair of eyeglass frames. If your prescription is stronger than +/-4.00 sphere, or if you want multifocal lenses, there are some additional considerations to make in your choice of eyeglass frames. Follow this link to learn more about how to buy eyewear.

If your prescription has a minus sphere (like -4.00, -4.25, or more), hard resin lenses will be noticeably thicker. In this case, you can go to a thinner, more expensive lens material. If you prefer hard resin, you should look for thicker frames in order to cover up some of the edge of the thick lens, and avoid thin metal frames that will accentuate thick lenses. Thick lenses are also thicker when wider or taller: you should stick to smaller eye sizes because the bigger the lens size, the thicker it gets at the edge.

If your prescription has a plus sphere (like +4.00, +4.25 or more) you do not need to avoid thin frames since plus sphere lenses are thicker in the middle and thinner at the edge.

If you do have a strong minus correction, you should also consider purchasing a thinner lens product, like a high index lens and/or one with aspheric design. Also, rimless frame constructions are not recommended for thick lenses because the heavy lenses often cause the frames to be top-heavy and can slide down your nose more readily, and can loosen up over time.

There are many resources in this website to learn more about lenses. Start on the page about eyeglass lenses, which shows you all the lens resources on the website. The page on eye glasses lenses discusses the many lens options that are available to you. Our Lens Wizard is a step by step guide that walks you through the selection of the right lens for you.

Eyeglass frames and multifocal lenses

For multifocal lenses (progressive, bifocal, and trifocal), there needs to be enough height to the frame (known as the B measurement) so that the viewing areas are large enough to see through. We recommend that the B measurement be at least 30mm for any frame that will be getting multifocal lenses. Follow this link to learn more about progressive lenses.

If you have fallen in love with a frame that has a B measurement of 27mm to 29mm, there are some new short corridor lens choices that may work for you. Contact customer service for more information.

Choosing eyewear for children

The most important issues in choosing eyewear specifically for children are safety, durability, cost, and will they wear it?. Regarding safety, children should only wear polycarbonate lenses. Cost and durability are related; you should not pay a lot for childrens eyeglasses as kids are likely to damage, lose or outgrow them. To limit these problems, look for spring hinges that allow for some flexibility and help to avoid breakage at the temples. Stronger frame materials like titanium or flexible frames will last longer, but generally cost more. You may want to buy two pairs of cheaper frames and lenses instead of one pair of expensive frames.

If your child is very active, you should consider cable temples that hold the glasses to the ears better, but can also be annoying and painful behind the ears. Finally (and most importantly) your child is more likely to wear the glasses if he/she likes them.

Shopping for eyeglass frames online for children is difficult because of the special considerations for smaller children. Take them to the store with you and let them help you choose the style and color (and cartoon character!) that appeals to them.


Eyeglass frames are made out of many different composite materials and formulas, but the basic groupings are metal and plastic. In plastics, zyl is the most common although lower quality plastics are used in the cheaper frames. Nylon is often used in sport sunglasses due to its impact resistance and flexibility. Among the metals, monel is most common, followed by titanium, stainless steel, nickel silver, and aluminum. Follow these links to learn more about prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses.

Zyl eyeglass frames

Zyl is a short name for the material cellulose acetate, which is made of wood flakes, cottonseed fibers, stabilizers and plasticizers. Zyl is the most common plastic frame material because it can assume a large array of colors, textures and patterns. Temples and frame fronts can be cut from blocks of zyl extruded as a sheet of block acetate. Or, granular zyl can be liquefied and then injection molded. Block-cut zyl is stronger and more stable, while injection molded zyl is less stable and less expensive. With daily use in warm temperatures, zyl can shift and lose its form. Sometimes metal cores are added in the temples in order to strengthen and stabilize the frame. If zyl eyeglass frames reach a temperature over 160 degrees Fahrenheit, the plasticizers could rise to the surface of the frame, turning areas of the frame a milky white color. In addition, body oils, perspiration, ultraviolet radiation and cosmetics can also damage the material.

The best quality designer eyeglass frames are made with Italian Mazzuccheli zyl. Mazzuccheli now has factories in Italy and China, with the best quality and newest design materials coming from the Italian plants. All Mazzuccheli zyl is made in sheets, which are then cut in the eyewear factories.

Monel eyeglass frames

Monel is composed of about two-thirds nickel and one-third copper. This highly ductile alloy can be hammered into a variety of different shapes without losing strength. It resists stress well is often use to stabilize frame bridges and endpieces. Monel colors well, is corrosion resistant, and durable. If you have an allergy to some metals, it is usually the nickel in the metal that causes allergic reactions.

Titanium eyeglass frames

Titanium is extremely lightweight and will not rust, making it a very popular and relatively new material for eyeglass frames. Titaniums strength allows it to be made thin, but it is hard to solder or weld and is expensive. Titanium is a more expensive metal composite used in eyewear known for its beneficial qualities of strength, lightness, and flexibility. However, titanium is very difficult to color so titanium frames usually come in a very restricted range of eyeglass frame colors.

Eyeglass frames that are 100% titanium are also a hypo-allergenicthey do not contain any nickel which causes allergic reactions in some people. There are many other allergies (to plastics, stainless, and various other materials commonly used to make eyewear), and 100% titanium frames are a good choice for people with allergies to any of these materials. Many designer eyeglass frame brands use titanium in some part of their collection.

Stainless steel eyeglass frames

Stainless steel is comprised mostly of iron, with a mixture of nickel, manganese, and chromium. Stainless steel is highly lustrous, and makes a good thin and sturdy eyeglass frame with strong corrosion resistance. Although it is hard to make eyeglass frames with stainless steel due to soldering and welding difficulties, stainless steel temples are especially springy.

Nylon eyeglass frames

Nylon is virtually unbreakable, so it is often chosen for sports and safety applications. Nylon is lightweight and flexible, but can only accept opaque colors.

Nickel silver eyeglass frames

Sometimes called "Alpaca" or "German Silver", nickel silver is rigid compared to other more malleable metals. Nickel silvers contain more than 50% copper, 25% nickel, and the rest zinc (no silver at all). Copper adds pliability, zinc adds strength, and nickel gives it its namesake color, a whitish appearance, because when the nickel content exceeds 12% the copper color no longer shows through. Although the metal is lustrous, its brittleness makes it a poor choice for slender frame fronts and nose pads. Thus, it is better designed for use in hinges, endpieces, bridges and ornamental trims, as well as an innercore for temples.

Aluminum eyeglass frames

Aluminum is cut from a block, is lightweight and low in density. This makes the material strong, and yet light enough to use for thick fashion designs. Aluminum can accept a variety of colors, and chemical anodizing is sometimes used to create black, brown and gold colors. Because aluminum cannot be easily welded or soldered, endpieces, hinges, and nose pads must be fastened with rivets or screws, increasing the chance that those pieces fall out causing the frame to fail. This greatly limits the design possibilities. Aluminum is also very stiff, which limits its versatility.

Flexon eyeglass frames

Flexon is a trade name for one companys flexible frame material. Flexible eyeglass frames are available in many compositions, but the goal is always the same. This kind of material is used in eyeglasses frames in order to reduce breakage. It is normally found in the shaft of the temple and in the bridge, and it allows these areas to endure tremendous twisting without breakage or permanent distortion of the frames shape.

Hypo-Allergenic eyeglass frames

Some people have an allergic reaction to certain metals, especially nickel and certain plastics, which are common component materials used to make eyewear. Hypo-allergenic frames, such as titanium frames, do not contain such materials.


Feeling frame quality

Determining frame quality is quite difficult, even for an eyewear industry professional. The most reliable determinant of the quality of a pair of glasses is the feel of them in your hand. Do they rattle? Do they feel stiff and solid? When you exercise the hinges do they move smoothly and with the same friction throughout the bend? Better quality eyeglasses have a higher level of machined perfection, so that the better quality parts fit together well. Just because a designer eyeglass frame has a brand affiliation, it does not mean that the frame is of high quality. Follow this link to learn more about eyeglass lens quality.

Made in China

Nowadays, about 90% of all eyeglasses are made in China. All of the major Italian eyeglasses companies have moved the majority of their production to China. Many of the eyeglasses that are made in China are then shipped to Europe where a minimal amount of assembly or finishing work is done so that the frames can receive the Made in Europe designation.

There are some designers, like Alain Mikli, Lafont, and Silhouette and a few others that make their eyeglasses completely in Europe. Brands like Armani, Gucci, and other big fashion houses are mostly made in China, and then finished in Europe. This is not to say that China eyewear is of inferior quality. China has been making eyewear for many years and the quality is quite good.

Composite Frames

Eyeglasses are a composite of many different parts. Eyewear manufacturers source parts from all around the world, and can assemble frame in different places as well. Plastic glasses are composed of the plastic frame front, plastic temples (with wire running through part of the shaft), and hinges. Metal glasses are composed of the metal frame front, metal in the temples, plastic jackets to cover the temples, hinges, frame front, nosepads, and nosepad arms.

Using German hinges and Italian Mazzucchelli zyl (the best) results in an excellent quality European frame. This same frame model could use Mazzucchelli zyl from China (same company, different factory), and Chinese hinges, and be assembled in a Chinese factory. The Chinese frame would be very difficult to differentiate from the original, except that it would be designated made in China.

Now, lets say that this same frame model used Mazzucchelli zyl from China, and Chinese hinges, but was assembled in Italy, it would be called Italian eyewear, made in Italy. Most European eyewear nowadays (except for a few high end brands) that is made in Europe is made mostly of Chinese components.

Hinge quality

Hinges are a small but very important component in the overall quality of your eyeglass frame. If the hinge is not mounted on the frame properly, it will disengage which leads to a very difficult (or impossible) repair job. Low quality hinges with wear out, the screw will pop out and get lost, and they will wear quickly leading to rattling or sloppy action. Good quality hinges have a smooth and consistent action that does not wear over time, with friction that is consistent throughout the entire range of motion.

We still find that the best quality hinges are made in Germany. You can find these in European and Chinese frame, and in most better quality frames. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find out from the manufacturers which hinges they use in a particular frame.


Eyeglass frames are composed of several components and the names of the different eyeglass frame parts is useful to learn. Eyeglass frames have two basic parts: the frame front that holds the lenses, and the temples which hold the frame from falling off your face.

Eyeglass frame front

The frame front is composed of two eyepieces connected by the bridge. The eyepieces hold the lenses and connect to the temples by hinges, and the bridge is the part over your nose. Usually, there is just one piece of material connecting the two eyepieces, called a single bridge construction. Some, especially larger, frames have a double-bridge for extra support, with two pieces of material connecting the two eyepieces.

The eyepieces on a full-frame completely encircle the lens. On metal frames, the eyepiece is held together with a screw that is removed when the lenses are installed, and then replaced. On plastic frames, the eyepiece is heated until it expands, the lens is snapped into position, the frame cools and contracts snugly around the lens. On half-rimless frames, the lens in held in place by a nylon cord called the eyewire that attaches to the frame in two places. The rim of a pair of eyeglasses is the part of the eyeglasses frames eyepiece that holds the lens in place. The rim can completely encircle a lens in the case of full frames, or partially hold the frame in the case of semi-rimless frames, or there can be no rim at all in the case of rimless frames.

On the outer edge of each eyepiece some material extends out beyond the shape of the lens. This is called the endpiece, and connected to it is the hinge which holds the temples to the frame front. Endpieces can be designed larger so that a larger person can wear a somewhat smaller lens without the frame pinching the sides of the head.

Many eyeglasses frames, most commonly metal frames, have nosepads attached to the inside of the bridge. Nosepads are normally made of a plastic or silicone materials, and aid in the comfortable resting of the frame on the wearers nose. Nosepads can be adjusted to accommodate an individuals nasal structure, as well as the proper positioning of the lenses in front of the wearers nose.

Nosepads are attached to pad arms, which are welded to the frame front. Nosepad arms are made of a malleable metal so that they can be adjusted (bent) during a fitting. This metal is then welded on to the frame front which could be made of titanium, monel, stainless, or other materials. Occassionally these weld points weaken and the pad arms break off the frame there.

Nosepads are attached either by a screw (screw-in nosepads), or they are push-in nosepads which require no screw. Most nosepads are designed this way so that the nosepads can be replaced when they wear out. Pad arms are always made out of malleable metal so they can be adjusted, even on titanium or aluminum frames.

Plastic frames, and some metal frames do not have nosepads; they have a saddle bridge construction. This term refers to a style of bridge in which the arched portion of the bridge lies directly on the bridge of the wearers nose. Saddle bridges are more common with plastic frames than with metal frames. Metal frames with saddle bridges do not have nosepads.

Clip-on sunglasses lenses are available for some eyeglasses frames. Clip-ons are simply frame fronts with plano sunglass lenses, no temples, and an attachment mechanism to hold on to the underlying frame. The clip-ons usually match the eyeglasses frame in shape and color, and attach either by clips or with magnets. Regular clip-ons require two hands to add and remove the clips, but magnetic clip-ons (hold to the frame with magnets instead of clips) can be added or removed with just one hand.

Eyeglass frame temples

There are many different types for frame temples, which connect and hold the frames front to the wearers head behind and below the ears. The most common is the skull temple, with the long straight shaft that is bent with a 45 degree angle at the top of the ear near the end of the temple which is called the temple tip. The shaft is the straight part that extends from the connection point at the eyeglasses frame front to the bend in the temple. Library temples are straight all-shaft temples with no bend in them.

Most temples have temple tips that are malleable so that they can be changed (bent) to adjust the fit of the glasses. Frames that are made of titanium, aluminum, and stainless often have a different type of metal welded on to the temple tips. Temple tips are usually coated by a plastic material that is designed to give and adjust to the metal if the metal is bent during an adjustment. These plastic temple tips covers can become worn out and on some frames they are designed to be replaced.

Cable temples refer to curly temple tips, which curl behind your ears. Cable temple hold glasses in place better and are a good choice for people in active situations and for children. However, coable temples are not easy to adjust, and if they pinch your ear it is very difficult to adjust the temples as the metal is not designed to be adjusted easily.

Eyeglass frame hinges

Hinges are used to connect the temples to the front of an eyeglasses frame, while allowing the temple to fold flat against the frame. Most frames use external hinges, which are mounted on the inside of the temple shaft. Internal hinges are buried inside the shaft of the temple, hiding the mechanism from view.

Spring Hinges

A spring hinge is a hinge that is mounted on the temple shaft and allows for spring action. Spring action hinges can bend beyond the limit of normal hinges, which can limit breakage of the frame under stress. Spring action hinges also help to keep frames properly aligned. Spring hinges are found on both external and internal hinges.

Hingeless eyeglass frames

Hingeless eyeglasses use a very springy material, usually titanium, for the temples. The springiness of the temples lightly pinches your head to hold the glasses in place. This system results in a lighter weight pair of glasses, fewer components that could break, and a sleek design.

Hinge quality

Hinges are a small but very important component in the overall quality of your eyeglass frame. If the hinge is not mounted on the frame properly, it will disengage which leads to a very difficult (or impossible) repair job. Low quality hinges with wear out, the screw will pop out and get lost, and they will wear quickly leading to rattling or sloppy action. Good quality hinges have a smooth and consistent action that does not wear over time, with friction that is consistent throughout the entire range of motion.

We still find that the best quality hinges are made in Germany. You can find these in European and Chinese frame, and in most better quality frames. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find out from the manufacturers which hinges they use in a particular frame.