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The Anatomy of Eyeglasses

What makes up an optical frame? What function does each part serve?


The Anatomy of Eyeglasses

The anatomy of your glasses.

Desiree Koh
Everyday, we put on our glasses or sunglasses without a second thought, as long as they fit comfortably, we see better, and we look great. But if there's one law about wearing glasses, it's that something will happen to them! And then you get on the phone with your optician or the manufacturer to explain what needs to be fixed, and you're at a loss for words. How many times have you found yourself stumbling like this: "Um, it's the, you know, plastic thing that holds that metal part to that strip that sits along my face..."

To makes things more complicated, there is a lot of eyewear constructed with so much sophistication today from innovative materials and newly patented parts that might send you running for cover, should you try to dissect all the mechanics and trademarked names. However, knowing the basics of all the main parts that make up your frames and sunglasses, as well as why they exist, would make things a lot easier in taking better care of your glasses and trouble-shooting. And if you do own glasses that contain flashes of brilliance, such as Mykita's screw-less stainless steel hinges or Bolle's adjustable, hydrophilic notepads, you'll be able to understand how they work even better.

Frame Front: This is the crux of your spectacles or sunglasses, the main thing you look for when selecting a pair, because it completes your visual style. Like clothes and shoes, frames come in sizes, too, depicted as such: (lens width)mm - (bridge width)mm - (overall length of temple)mm

While knowing the general frame dimensions that fit you best is useful in helping pick new glasses, keep in mind that fittings can vary from brand to brand. Not forgetting that sometimes you're going for a more lavish or unusual look with oversized sunnies or tiny round orbs, so make allowances accordingly.

Lens Rim: Here's where your prescription or color-toned lenses are fitted into the frame. If you are getting customized lenses, the optical lab edges the lenses to your specific Rx or tints them to your specifications before mounting them into this part of the glasses. Depending on your prescription, your optician might suggest a particular frame material that's better suited for it—for example, plastic frames hold higher prescriptions requiring thicker lenses better than a thin metal material. If you're wearing rimless or half-rimless frames, wire is used to hold your lenses in place.

Bridge: The area between the lenses that goes over the nose supports 90 percent of the weight of your glasses, and plays a major role in determining the fit of your frame. There are a few varieties—the keyhole for smaller and flatter noses, the saddle for heavier glasses, and the traditional double with a second bar on top.

Nosepads: Nosepads may be the smallest visible part of your glasses, but they serve a mighty purpose in ensuring fit and comfortable in holding your glasses in place. All nosepads can be adjusted (unless they are molded into the frame, typically on acetate frames), and an skillful optician is adept at making magic happen with a great fitting. Silicone nosepads are more durable and make for more comfortable, non-slip wearing, and these days, titanium nosepads can be mounted onto acetate frames so those with flatter noses can get much-needed support to wear the frames they want.

Temples: These run along the sides of your face and extend over and/or behind the ears to help hold the frame in place. With broader temples more popular now, many brands focus designs and motifs on this part of the frame, instead of or in addition to the frame front.
Temple Tips/Earpiece: To ensure comfort and relieve the pressure of temples on the top of your ears, plastic or silicone coatings cover the ends of the temples. They also help to hold the glasses in place and keep them from falling off!

Hinges: Out of sight but never out of mind, because these little mechanisms do a whole lot in ensuring the comfort of your fit. They connect the frame front to the temples, and more traditionally made glasses feature just a regular hinge, while more technically advanced ones use spring-loaded ones that open up the temples according to the width of your face. Eyewear innovators are constantly thinking of ways to reduce the components in a spring so your frame is lighter than ever—Monoqool's just-launched o-rings not only reduce the need for screws, they are interchangeable so you can change the look of your glasses as often as you like.
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