Patients often ask: “Why is the price of those two frames so different; they look the same to me?” The answer is often an explanation of quality. So, what makes for a quality frame?

Explain to patients there are different qualities in terms of durability, consistency of finish and manufacture, company reliability and style appeal. Moreover, the frame must reliably hold prescription lenses correctly. So, this answer forms the way that you should also consider the frames for your office.

When choosing frames, look beyond style for each of the following characteristics. For plated frames, ask about plating thickness and retention i.e., its ability to resist damage, peeling or crazing. Stress testing and X-rays of metal parts ensure consistency.

Temples must retain their shape for a correct eyewear fit and endure the constant opening and closing and the on and off that takes place over the life of the frame. Deformation tests and simulated closing test temple shape and hinge. For plastic frames, a test places the frame in a 60 degrees C oven to verify the material’s resistance to deformation.

Many frames use a varnish coating to add luster and seal the material surface. It must endure repeated adhesive tape tearing tests over extended periods of time so the finish is lustrous for the life of the prescription. Any coating or finish must be color fade and corrosion resistant to physical and chemical agents. So, simulated acid testing in a corrosion chamber and weather testing can prove maximum resistance to body and environmental acids as well as temperature, humidity and UV. ISO standards require that materials are not flammable. Frames are placed on steel bars heated to 650 degrees C. This protects patients and provides non-combustible frames.

Lastly, the bridge and solder joints, lens retention and overall endurance should be tested by varying weights, pull tests and cycling to simulate the overall wearer handling and maximum strength of every frame element. Answering the quality question competently improves patient confidence.