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A Guide for the New Glasses Wearer: How to Choose the Best Glasses for You 
 
by Kira Connally June 03, 2005

Plastic Frames vs. Metal Frames

Plastic frames in classic shapes with bold colors are quickly becoming a fashion favorite. Gone are the tortoise and horn-rimmed clunkers you may associate with plastic frames; today’s colors are a veritable rainbow of choice.

Plastic is a stylish and durable choice, and as the frame itself is often thicker than a metal one, plastic frames hide thick lenses better than thin metal frames do. Plastic frames usually do not have adjustable nose pads, making them more prone to sliding down the nose. Plastic frame are also less adjustable; the way they fit when you first put them on is the way they will fit after your lenses have been inserted.

The drawback to plastic is the ease with which the frame material stretches. Plastic frames that are worn on top of the head or are taken on and off frequently tend to lose their shape faster than their metal counterparts. Plastic frames are also a poor choice for sunglasses, which are often left in a hot car during the summer. Heat will cause a plastic frame to expand and contract, bending it out of shape and wearing out the material more quickly. When a plastic frame is broken it is not as repairable as a metal frame, which can be soldered.

The Benefits of Metal Frames

Metal frames are popular due to their sleek profile, thin rims and classic appearance. Metal frames are also more forgiving of the abuses commonly committed by the new wearer.

Today’s metal frames offer a variety of lens shapes not achievable in plastic materials, and can generally be custom fit to the wearer. They are easily adjusted or bent back into shape after an accident. Most metal frames have adjustable nose pads on metal arms soldered to the frame itself, allowing the pads to be fit to the individual nose. Different nose pad styles can cause a frame to sit higher or lower on the nose according to need, and can reduce slippage and improve overall comfort.

Though metal comes in many colors beyond basic gold and silver, the overall look is sleeker and less noticeable than a plastic frame. Metal frames are also more light-weight and can be readily adjusted for comfort. Some metal frames are available in a flexible metal alloy that snaps back from a hard twist without kinking or damaging the frame. Titanium metal frames are strong, lightweight, and won’t cause skin irritation.

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