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Eyeglasses Frame Types

We group eyelasses frames into three basic frame types: full frame, half-rimless frame, rimless eyeglasses, and shield. A full glasses frame has a rim that completely encircles the lens. In a half-rimless eyeglasses frame there is no rim 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 rim on the bottom. Half-rimless eyeglasses 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).

Full-Rim Eyeglasses

Full-rim eyeglasses have a frame that fully surrounds the lens. They are some of the sturdiest and most reliable eyeglasses frames, making them perfect for people with a tendency to drop things.  Parents should consider getting their kids a pair of full-rim frames because of their durability. Although they may feel a little bit heavier

Full Rim Glasses: Ray Ban RX2180V
, they are often a popular choice for people with an active lifestyle.

Half-Rimless Frames

A half-rimless eyeglasses frame design has a rim over the top half of the lens (and sometimes just on the bottom 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.

Half-rim eyewear have frames without a complete rim structure around the lens. Instead, there is a solid structure overtop of the lens, which can considerably reduce the weight of the frame.

Half Frame Glasses Type, Ray Ban RX8412Half-rim eyeglasses frames are ideal for people who want a lightweight yet trendy pair of eyewear that's comfortable for wearing over long periods of time.

Rimless Eyeglasses

Rimless eyeglasses 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 structure of the frame, so it is important to only use high index, polycarbonate or Trivex lens material on rimless glasses.

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 glasses frames will begin to rattle, and can eventually crack the lens. One advantage of buying rimless glasses frames online at Eyeglasses.com is that our labs produce very high quality rimless mountings.

Rimless eyewear have lenses attached at the bridge (the part across your nose) and the hinges that connect to the arms. This frame type is ideal for people who want to minimize people being distracted by bulky or colorful lenses.

Rimless Glasses Type: Oakley Wingfold

Rimless frames are a popular choice for both men and women. They're also commonly considered for being stylish and worn on special occasions such as weddings and graduations. However, while rimless frames are sleek and reveal more of your face, they also are less sturdy than other frame types.

Rimless Glasses by Line Art

Shield Frames

Shield frames are a unique style of frames designed to protect against unwanted debris and light in the peripheral areas. Although these frames may seem like a bold fashion statement, they offer substantial protection for your eyes. The frames are typically used for sunglasses, and cannot hold prescription lenses. The only way to use a prescription with this type of frame is to use an "optical insert", which hold prescription lenses behind the shield lens.

Shield Frame Type: Oakley Radar EV Path

Prescription Safety Glasses Frames

Prescription safety glasses frames usually are stamped ANSI Z87.1 on the frame somewhere.  The frames are usually made of a very durable material like nylon or polycarbonate, and it will include special safety lenses, which should carry a monogram if they are true safety glasses lenses.

Prescription Safety Glsses


Author of this article: 

Mark Agnew, AuthorMark Agnew
CEO of Eyeglasses.com, which he founded in 1999.  For over twenty years, he has educated consumers, improved their vision choices, and reduced costs in eyewear.  Mark authored The Eyeglasses Buying Guide, the most comprehensive and best-selling glasses buying guide in the world.

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