All explained: what are eyeglasses made of?

Lensmart 2023-04-13 14:10:35

Has the question ever crossed your mind—what are eyeglasses made of? Typically, people assume that eyewear exclusively uses breakable glass like windows or mirrors. However, it might surprise you to know that there are several types of materials utilized by eyeglass manufacturers. You'll learn more about them by reading this blog.

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What are eyeglass frames made of?

Contrary to popular belief, glasses frames can have designs made of a variety of materials. Each type has unique characteristics and benefits for the wearer.

1. Cellulose acetate or zyl

One of the most practical options for eyewear frames is cellulose acetate, also called zylonite or zyl. It is a cost-effective plastic material that is often laminated to add layers of color. The effect is a vibrant frame with unique colorways. You can choose zyl frames in lighter colors to make them 'disappear' from your peripheral vision. However, this type of frame is difficult to adjust once the fit becomes loose.

2. Propionate

Nylon-based cellulose acetate propionate is a common plastic material with hypoallergenic quality. Although stiffer than most plastic, this material is lightweight and easily moldable. That is why wraparound glasses can have a fully propionate-made body. One disadvantage is that overheating can cause the propionate to shrink and break.

3. Nylon

Sports enthusiasts may opt for nylon-made frames since the material matches their active lifestyle. It is flexible, weather-resistant, and offers ease of shaping to provide comfort when worn. It's the top choice for performance glasses and perfect for people who want to mix and match frames in a range of colors. The caveat is that this material can become brittle as it ages, making it more prone to damage.

4. TR90

The impact resistant TR90 thermoplastic material can withstand accidents, including when you drop or sit on them. It's highly durable and supremely lightweight, which is why it's the top choice for everyday wear. Also, it offers high heat resistance and comes in a broad selection of styles and colors.

5. Titanium

Titanium-based alloys feature outstanding heat resistance and flexibility for eyewear. It's also about 25% lighter than most typical metal materials. In most cases, this type of frame doesn't need spring hinges, improving comfort and durability. A significant drawback is that some people can have an allergic reaction to nickel-based titanium alloys.

6. Stainless steel

Typically made of iron-carbon alloy, stainless steel is strong, lightweight, and flexible. It contains chromium, which makes it corrosion resistant compared to regular steel. Ultra-thin eyewear usually utilizes this material. However, it's not as resistant to heat as titanium.

7. Magnesium

High-end eyewear may use magnesium for its remarkable properties—hypoallergenic, durable, and super lightweight. It's a strong material that ensures a long-lasting quality for the frame. Budget-wise, you may find it more expensive than other metal frames like stainless steel.

What are eyeglass lenses made of?

Part of the answer to the question 'what are glasses made of?' include lens material. There is a vast array of options, each different in appearance, comfort, and vision.

1. Glass

Some of the most classic lens constructions use glass, which accounts for the name itself. Glass-made lenses provide great optics for the wearer. The problem is that this material is heavy and prone to breakage. As a result, you might sustain injuries once the eyeglasses break.

2. Plastic

A safer and more lightweight alternative created in the '40s is the plastic lens. It is inexpensive and provides good optics for the user. Although they do not break easily, plastic lenses typically suit only mild to minimal prescriptions.

3. High-index plastic

People with strong prescriptions can rely on high-index plastic lenses. You need less material to create higher prescriptions, allowing the lens to remain slim and light. Consequently, this type of glass is more comfortable to wear for the long term.

4. Polycarbonate

Impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses not only offer full UV protection but also boast a shatter-proof quality. It is much lighter than plastic and a fitting choice for children's eyewear. Polycarbonate also requires less material to make strong prescriptions, helping to minimize vision distortion.

5. Trivex

Trivex is a modern innovation for eyewear, designed like polycarbonate but better in many aspects. It is thinner, more impact-resistant, and more lightweight than other lens materials. However, you may notice sharper vision for some sections such as the peripheral and central parts of the lens.

Final thoughts

Now that you have an idea of what glasses are made of, it's time to shop for the best pair! You can look around Lensmart's vast online catalog for the latest and most stylish eyeglasses. The site lets you do a virtual try-on of different designs that come in high-quality lens and frame materials. 


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