About Eyeglasses

Choosing the right eyeglasses often depends on individual traits such as hair color, face size and even the type of vision correction you need.

If you have an unusually wide face, for example, you may need to shop around for extra-large eyeglass frames. On the other hand, smaller faces may require a petite frame size.

Unusually strong corrections also can make lenses look thick or distorted when eyeglass frames are oversized. Learn all about eyeglasses with this comprehensive collection of articles on eyeglass frames and lenses, all written by experts in the eye care industry.

Eyeglass Frame Materials
Choose the right frame material for your prescription eyeglasses, whether you need it to be lightweight, flexible, strong, or hypoallergenic.

Different eyeglass frame materials greatly expand your options for a new look. While shopping for new eyeglasses or sunglasses, ask your optician for advice about variety in colors, durability, lightness, favorite brands, hypoallergenic materials, uniqueness and price.

In fact, finding eyeglasses with the qualities that are most important to you could be as simple as choosing the right frame material because each type has its own unique strengths.

Plastic
If you want the colors of the rainbow, then zyl (zylonite, or cellulose acetate) is your material. Zyl is a very cost-effective and creative option for eyewear and is extremely lightweight. Particularly popular right now are laminated zyl frames that have layered colors. Look for light colors on the interior sides, which can make your eyewear "disappear" from your visual field when you wear them. An all-black frame, on the other hand, is visible at all times on both interior and exterior sides.

Some manufacturers also use cellulose acetate propionate, a nylon-based plastic that is hypoallergenic. It's lightweight and has more transparency and gloss than other plastics. If your main criterion for a frame is lightness, then definitely consider propionate frames.

Metal
Monel — a mixture of any of a broad range of metals — is the most widely used material in the manufacture of eyeglass frames. Its malleability and corrosion resistance are pluses.

Though most monel frames are hypoallergenic, it's possible people with sensitive skin may experience irritation if monel rests directly against their face. But this is preventable if the right kind of plating, such as palladium or other nickel-free options, is used.

Titanium and beta-titanium are also popular materials for eyeglass frames. Titanium is a silver-gray metal that's lightweight, durable, strong and corrosion-resistant. It has been used for everything from spacecraft to implantable medical devices such as heart valves. Titanium eyewear can be produced in a variety of colors for a clean, modern look with a hint of color. And it's hypoallergenic.

Some titanium farmes are made from an alloy that is a combination of titanium and other metals, such as nickel or copper. In general, titanium alloy frames cost less than 100 percent titanium frames.

Beryllium, a steel-gray metal, is a lower-cost alternative to titanium eyewear. It resists corrosion and tarnish, making it an excellent choice for wearers who have high skin acidity or spend a good amount of time in or around salt water. Beryllium is also lightweight, very strong, very flexible (making it easy for an optician to adjust your glasses) and available in a wide range of colors.

Stainless steel frames and surgical stainless are another alternative to titanium. Qualities of stainless steel frames include light weight, low toxicity and strength; many stainless steel frames also are nickel-free and thus hypoallergenic.

Stainless steel is readily available and reasonably priced. It's an alloy of steel and chromium, and may also contain another element. Most stainless steels contain anywhere from 10 to 30 percent chromium, which provides excellent resistance to corrosion, abrasion and heat.

Flexon is a titanium-based alloy. This unique and popular material, originated by the eyeglass manufacturer Marchon, also is called "memory metal." Frames made of Flexon come back into shape even after twisting or bending. Flexon frames are lightweight, hypoallergenic and corrosion-resistant. Marchon company officials describe the frame as about 25 percent lighter in weight than standard metals, giving you a much lighter feel on your face.

Frames made from aluminum are lightweight and highly corrosion-resistant. Aluminum is used primarily by high-end eyewear designers because of the unique look it creates. Aluminum is the world's most abundant and widely used nonferrous metal (metal other than iron or steel). Pure aluminum is actually soft and weak, but commercial aluminum with small amounts of silicon and iron is hard and strong.