Excellent vision correction relies on excellent optical engineering. That’s why a good pair of glasses is a true testament to eyecare ingenuity.
In order to bring vision in focus while feeling comfortable on a person’s face, eyeglasses are designed around numerous functional pieces, components, measurements, and materials. These include different variations of glasses created for different purposes, as well as shapes, materials, and colors for a wide range of options.
Due to their specific designs, most glasses are not suitable for wearing during all the activities one might experience throughout the day. Therefore, many types of eyeglasses exist to accommodate different lifestyles and interests, including general day-to-day distance glasses, reading glasses, sunglasses, glasses for driving, online gaming glasses, sports glasses, blue light blocking glasses, safety glasses, and more.
The distinction between glasses types is a result of both frame design and included lens prescriptions. For example, lenses created with a near-vision prescription could be suitable for either reading or computer work, but while a wearer might want blue-blocking protection while staring at a screen, they probably wouldn’t like it when reading a book. Moreover, the frames of reading glasses might feel too heavy if they utilize certain types of lenses. Some glasses might include bifocal or progressive lenses to appreciate a wider use across all daily activities.
Frame shapes are another important aspect of ergonomics and style. Each shape is created to compliment a different feeling and appearance on the face, with some shapes aligning with a wearer’s preferences more than others.
Popular Frame Shapes and Styles
The following list includes some of the most popular frame types to refer to while shopping online or when visiting your optical store. Keep in mind that many frames cannot be boxed into just one category due to how many styles and customization options there are!
One of the most popular frame types, rectangular frames come in both rectangular and square shapes. They consist of clean lines and can be made with all materials for a timeless look.
Browline frames are most often made with a half rim to highlight the area around the eyebrows. These classics are cousins of the cateye design but feature fewer curved lines.
Also known as Pilot frames (perhaps as an allusion to the movie Top Gun), Aviator frames boast a double bridge to complement a tear-drop shape supported by thin rims and nose pads. Mostly made with metal materials, aviators are known to keep its wearer looking cool.
Cateye frames utilize a half rim with pronounced endings to appear fashionable, sophisticated, and extravagant. Some online retailers also include butterfly or clubmaster shapes with these frames.
Owing to their minimalistic appearance, oval/round frames have been around for centuries. Their rimless design was a favorite in the 60s and 70s, drawing little attention to themselves but conveying a sense of ‘hippieness’.
Irregular frames fit every other category out there. These frames can include crazy shapes, but perhaps the most common examples are hexa and octagon frames. For a bold yet functional style that very few people use, look no further.
Your Perfect Eyeglasses: A result of many different parts
The right frames can add a stroke of personality to compliment the wearer, and are seen as a fashion statement for many people. The popularity of stylish eyewear has paved the way for big brands such as Ray-Ban, Oakley, Gucci, Prada, Versace and Armani to be favored by celebrities and wealthy individuals. Nevertheless, glasses serve to be functional when all is said and done. The ability to achieve better vision rides off the various components that make eyeglasses a convenient - yet effective - solution for day-to-day vision needs.
The bulk of eyewear components reside on the front of the frames, also known as the frame front. The rims of glasses are an integral part of the frame front and in most cases hold the lenses. Attached to the frame front on either side are the end pieces, or special areas where the temples connect to the frame via hinges.
Spanning between the frame front’s lenses is the bridge, which gets its namesake for bridging the gap across a wearer’s nose. The bridge provides the nose with a comfortable resting point, balances the space between the nose and the frames, and joins together both lenses. Without a bridge bump - the protrusion from the frames that makes extra room for the top of the nose to fit - most glasses would be quite uncomfortable to wear.
The nose pads are either located on the back side of the rims (close to the bridge) or can be integrated directly into the frame. These can be round or square depending on the particular glasses style but will always seek the best grip on the nose for support.
Within the frames are the lenses, held securely within various different rims. These are the pieces your optometrist has a hand in measuring, as they are ultimately what correct your vision. Originally, many lenses were created out of actual glass, but a more durable and lighter plastic material is usually substituted today.
The rims of glasses (or lack thereof) represents one of the most basic stylistic options for wearers. Rims are the portion of the frames that wrap around the edges of the lenses as a means of support. Traditional full rim glasses feature rims that wrap around the entire lens, while half rim glasses sit either above or below the lens. Rimless glasses feature no rim around either lens, relying solely on the lenses themselves to make up most of the frame. This style has the benefit of being lightweight and noninvasive, calling little attention to glasses themselves. However, that also means color and shape options are almost non-existent, causing rimless glasses to appear bland. Younger people tend to avoid these frame types for this reason.
Moving from the frame front to the sides, the temples (also known as legs or arms) extend from the frame to the back of the head. Temples come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but all serve one main purpose: to secure the glasses to the wearer’s head by tucking behind the ears and, in most cases, via a 45 degree drop end. The ends of temples are known as temple tips and are generally flatter to achieve better comfort behind the ears.
Connecting the temples to the frame front are the hinges. Without these special joints, it would be impossible to fold up the temples for better storage. They’re typically made of metal and are screwed or soldered onto the frames (in some cases they’re attached to the rivets). Many frames feature rivets as a design element, but they often hold the hinges in place. Multiple types of hinges allow for more give when folding the temples.
For example, tenon hinges (also known as charniers) are the standard for most pairs of glasses and stop the temples from unfolding past a certain point. Spring hinges, on the other hand, allow for some give when the temples are bent further out than usual, granting more flexibility.
Many subtypes and materials exist for different degrees of comfort, appearance, and functionality. Lenses, for instance, have many subtypes to choose from, including progressives, polycarbonates, readers, and plano. As with different types of glasses, it can be worthwhile to consider different subtypes of components and materials to better suit your lifestyle. There are options that have added benefits to visual appearance and style, while others are designed to make the frames more forgiving to wear and tear or rough handling.
To learn more about the various materials used in the manufacturing of standard and premium eyewear, check out Glasses - Technologies and Materials.