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BY AlphaM May 8, 2012


For Your Eyes Only | Choosing Glasses and Eyewear

Choosing a pair of eyeglasses doesn’t seem like it should be all that difficult, but with the gazillion choices of eyewear we have available today, picking out the perfect pair of specs is more like a science project than anything else.

Face shape, skin tone, hair and eye color, life style, and wardrobe are all factors in selecting the most complimentary eyewear.  It’s simply no longer about choosing a pair of glasses based on what we like.  It can be, but if you want your choice to be the best option for your face, you might want to read on and learn how and what to base your choice on.

If you’ve been to an optometrist’s (eye doctor) office lately, you know there are countless frames made from a variety of materials.  From metal to plastic to frameless; there’s something for everyone.  Deciding what you want your frame to be constructed of is a good place to start.  Each type of frame has its advantages and drawbacks, so choosing one based on lifestyle and personality helps to narrow the search.  Other factors in determining a frame are weight, comfort, quality and price; all of which are greatly determined by the material.

Plastic is very popular because of the vast assortment of colors, textures, patterns, and qualities available.

Plastics vary, making plastic frames suitable for a variety of lifestyles and activities, like sports.  ZYL or cellulose acetate is the most common type plastic used for frames because of its versatility.  It is a composite of wood flakes, cottonseed fibers, stabilizers and plasticizers.  ZYL can be damaged by ultraviolet radiation, perspiration, body oil and cosmetics, yet is still the plastic of choice.  Plastic frames typically don’t bend the way metal fames can; however, they can become brittle and discolor with age or excessive heat, so buying a quality plastic is important, especially if you plan on wearing them for a long time.

Metal frames are lightweight and strong.

They hold their shape well, yet careful handling is still necessary to avoid bending.  Metal frames are usually made of Monel (a metal alloy containing 2/3 nickel and 1/3 copper) that is corrosion resistant and sturdy; however, aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, cobalt, nickel silver (German Silver), and phosphor bronze are popular, also.  Metal frames can be made of colored metal, or be color coated; giving color options beyond base metal colors.  For people allergic to certain metals (typically nickel), choose a hypoallergenic option such as titanium or stainless steel, if you’re set on wearing a metal frame.

Titanium, a fairly new material for eyeglass frames, is very strong, lightweight, flexible, and rust-resistant.  It’s difficult to color, so titanium frames come in a limited range of colors.  These frames are great for an active lifestyle, or those who require thicker lenses.  Titanium is an awesome metal that many designer frames are made of; however, it’s also very expensive.

Stainless steel is very radiant, sturdy and corrosion resistant.  Like titanium, the strength of stainless allows frames to be made very thin; adding to their light weight.  A downside to stainless frames is their very springy temples.

Nylon frames are often chosen for sports and safety glasses because they are virtually unbreakable.

Nylon is lightweight and flexible, but frames are limited to opaque colors.

Determining frame quality is not an easy task.

The most reliable way to assess quality is to hold the frames in your hand and feel them.  Do they feel sturdy and solid?  Do the hinges open and close smoothly, with the same amount of tension throughout the bend?  Asking the eye doctor or assistant for their professional opinion will help give you insight to quality, as well.  Just because a frame has a designer’s name attached to it, doesn’t mean the quality is good, so keep your eyes open.

Matching Frames To Face Shape

You should consider three main points when choosing an eyeglass frame for your face shape, according to The Vision Council:

  1. Eyewear should repeat your personal best feature (such as a blue frame to match blue eyes).
  2. The frame shape should contrast with your face shape.
  3. The frame size should be in scale with your face size.

That all makes sense, but execution of these guidelines could be tricky… unless you know your face shape.  I’ve included a face shape chart, along with professional suggestions on the best frames for each shape.  Although most faces are a combination of shapes and angles, there are seven basic face shapes: round, oval, square, oblong, base-up triangle,  diamond, and base-down triangle.

Frame color is another consideration when making your selection.  Men are less likely to choose frames based on eye color, particularly those with blue or green eyes.  However, you might want to factor in skin and hair color, along with the most prevalent color in your wardrobe.  If ever in doubt or totally perplexed by the whole eyeglass purchasing experience, bring someone, whose opinion you can trust, along for the ride.  Fortunately, eyeglasses are not a permanent part of our face and can be easily changed, so don’t stress too much about picking a pair out.

Owning more than one pair of eyeglasses can be expensive, but adds diversity to a wardrobe and image; so consider getting a second pair if you’re looking for variety.  Many optometry shops offer buy one – get one deals, which make owning two pairs affordable.  Whether you own one pair of glasses or twenty, make sure you give your eyewear selection as much consideration as you do your wardrobe and hair.  Eyeglasses sit on your face and surround your eyes – two things that typically get noticed before anything else on a person.  Make sure you look your best by wearing glasses that enhance your appearance in everyway, everyday.

by Aaron Marino

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