By Vicki Masliah
Photograph by NED MATURA; Frame: DONNA KARAN DK1527, LUXOTTICA; Lens: COURTESY OF HOYA VISION CARE.
As much as eyecare practitioners know that
the function of the lens is the most critical
part of a pair of glasses, they know, just as
well, that the patient is more likely concerned
about how attractive the glasses are.
For patient satisfaction, the finished product
has to be a good marriage of frame and lens.
As frame manufacturers have released new
designs, lens manufacturers have created
lenses that function well with the frames.
Think about the progressive lenses whose
corridors have gotten shorter and shorter,
and the “B” measurements of frames have
It can work in reverse as well. In the 1970s,
lightweight plastic lenses began to allow comfortable
wearing of larger (and larger) eye
sizes. The frame manufacturers offered styles
that brought a new terminology and pricing
to the practitioner—oversize lenses. Larger
frames became a major contributor to the
lens/frame symbiotic relationship. The low
index of refraction of standard plastic resulted
in thicker edges in the large eye sizes.
So lens makers started their R&D to
develop higher indices to thin
out the lenses and aspheric
surfaces to make
them look flatter. As the cosmetics demanded
more thinness, frames started getting smaller
again. Today the availability of thin, lightweight
1.67, 1.70 and 1.74 index lenses have
opened the door to larger frames again, particularly
in the sunglass market.
The desire for fashion-forward eyewear
also affects the development of lens treatments.
This is probably most obvious in the
constant improvements being made in antireflective
coatings. Now that more highindex
products are being used, there are
more reflections off the lens surface. AR
coatings should be used on every high-index
order, both for cosmetic and optical benefits.
Fashion also feeds the tints and coating
sales. Eyewear looks terrific when the lenses
coordinate with the frame.
L&T spoke with a number of eyecare professionals
and lab experts for their opinions
on how lenses and frames influence each
other at both the manufacturing and
MARTY BREGMAN, OPTICIAN,
MR. SPECS OPTICIANS, LYNN,MASS.
“In some cases frame designs have encouraged
lens designs. This is most obvious with
the large selection of short-corridor and very
short corridor progressive lenses being
offered. But probably, just as frequently, lens
designs have encouraged lens designs. With
each generation of progressive lens design,
the induced cylinder is more controlled and
visual clarity is improved, especially with the
new digital surfacing. As base curves and
adds influence the amount of induced cylinder
in a progressive, we can choose lens
designs that are most beneficial on a per Rx
basis. Short-corridor progressives, with
limited intermediate areas, created an opening
for the near variable focus lenses and the
opportunity for the patient to be offered a
multiple pair choice.
“Frame selection absolutely influences the
lens treatments that are paired with the lenses.
When rimless and semi-rimless frames are
used, an anti-reflective coating is a cosmetic
must have. Of course, discussion of the
optical benefits of AR is necessary with
every fitting, but it is much easier to position
with rimless jobs.”
KEN MITTEL, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT,
HIRSCH OPTICAL (INDEPENDENT
WHOLESALE LAB), FARMINGDALE, N.Y.
“Fashion is cyclical and so is the frame and
lens relationship. The fashion fluke of the
enormous frames of the ’70s made the
patients and practitioners look for thinner
lenses. That started the seemingly endless
development of higher and higher indices.
Simultaneously, the frames got smaller and
smaller. So, now we have very high-index
lenses and very small frames. The index has
allowed the frame sizes to become larger
without compromising the thickness too
much. We are definitely seeing larger sizes
coming into the lab, but, on the whole,
they’re not huge. It’s obvious, though, that
the frame designers are not longer aiming for
the smallest frame possible without looking
ridiculous. On the other hand, I don’t
expect they’ll get too large either. It’s a
matter of patient comfort, foremost. Of
course the larger sizes are beneficial in
sunglasses for both eye and skin protection.
Here we are again, where frames have
driven lens design. When standard eightbase
lenses are used in the wrap sunglass
frames, there are absolute visual compromises.
The compensated eight-base lenses
were designed to provided improved vision
in the wrap frames. This is why it is so
important to communicate with your lab, to
become aware of products like these. Even
though so much of our work is sent to us
by computer, we welcome ‘lens consult’
phone calls. We can help create an ideal
pair of glasses.”
STEWART EISS, OPTICIAN, STEWART
PAUL OPTICIANS, BROOKLYN, N.Y.
“There is no doubt the frame dictates the
types of lenses we use in each order. The
patient will choose the frame first, then we
can streamline the ideal lenses for the
frame. Larger frame sizes are returning, so
it’s great that we no longer must fill them
with the ‘Coke bottle’ lenses of old. The
variety of high-index lenses offer a lot of
choices, so we can increase the index as the
Rx, frame size and decentration increase.
Not just those factors determine the index
we choose. The frame material also makes
a difference. Plastic frames will tend to hide
an edge thickness, whereas metal and rimless
certainly won’t, so we adjust the indices
accordingly. Of course the newest large sunglass
lenses should be paired with lenses
that control thickness and weight. The
wrap frames also need ‘frame specific’ lenses.
We find that, with the types of frames
we offer, fashion happens automatically. If
there is a lens treatment that enhances the
look of the frame, the patient is anxious to
incorporate it into the job. We just make
sure the patient knows the choices they
have available to them.”
ANDREW ISHAK, OD, ELKTON,MD.
“Frames equate with fashion and lenses
equate with function. It’s always interesting
to mix both. We certainly want the patient
to look great in their eyewear, but in our
practice, we always focus on function and
the frames come second. We listen to the
patient to determine their visual needs.
Although the term ‘lifestyle dispensing’ has
been around for quite some time, it is even
more appropriate today because of the huge
selection of lens choices. There is no
end to the visual
opportunities we can give the patient. So,
most probably, it is patient need that really
drives lens design. When patients understand
how different lenses address different
tasks, they are more likely to own multiple
pairs of glasses. We tailor lens function to
each patient and actually discourage frame
choices that we feel will be detrimental to
function and comfort. This is why we avoided
the wrap frames for so long. We find the
greatest patient satisfaction when we let the
prescription and task specifics of the lens
lead to the appropriate frame choice. Good
lenses provide good vision. By customizing
lenses to include to correct index, curves
and treatments the improved cosmetic
appearance just happens. We have been so
successful with that approach and are grateful
the lens designers continue to consider
ROBERT MESSINGER,OD, HOBOKEN, N.J.
“Much as it might not be the ideal situation,
frames definitely drive the patient’s choice in
the glasses they wear, so it is logical that
frames will also create the need for the
appropriate lenses. It’s really all about cosmetics.
A good looking frame is complemented
by a good looking pair of lenses. At
least we now have every opportunity to
make every pair of glasses as attractive as
possible. We have to strike a compromise
between what the patient wants and what is
most effective for them. Frame selection, of
course, influences the progressive lens we
use. And, as the frames have gotten shallower,
the corridors have gotten shorter. So,
I must warn patients that work at intermediate
distances, the sacrifices they make
when they lose intermediate power.
“Fortunately, thickness issues have already
been addressed as the frame sizes start to
get larger again, we already have a variety of
options. Even so, we try to direct the
patient to a reasonable sized frame.
“It’s all a balancing act. We want to keep
the patients by keeping them happy and we
also want what most answers their visual
requirements. It’s apparent that the frame
and lens manufacturers must look at each
other to keep that balance.”
CE DIRECTOR, JOBSON OPTICAL GROUP,
NEW YORK, N.Y.
“There is no question that lens designs and
frame designs feed each other. It is that relationship,
fueled by advances in technology
that have given us the great variety in frame
and lens styles. The obvious example is the
AO Compact that surprised the market with
its short corridor. It opened the door for more
manufacturers to create short corridor progressives.
So much is fashion driven, yet the
results are both fashionable and functional.
The patients are interested in looking younger,
so progressives in small frames are ideal. But,
smaller frames also fit better, closer to the eye,
and short corridors help the older patients
reach the needed add power more quickly.
The utility of the progressive is maximized.
“When frame companies compete to create
unique designs, they force the lens manufacturers
to find better ways to ‘fill the hole.’
We saw the great popularity of the threepiece
mountings encourage better quality,
drillable materials. To polycarbonate we
added Trivex and MR10 1.67.
“The eight-base wrap frames resulted in
the disappearance of quality optics, when
practitioners had no choice but to put inappropriate
Rxs on an eight base. Sophisticated
lens technology has resulted in eight- base
lenses made for these frames that eliminate
the problem previously experienced.
“Every development in eyewear technology
results in an effect between frames and lenses.
Each effect aids in providing the profession
with the ability to maximize eyewear function.
“As frame selections are made, the available
lens choices can be compatible both cosmetically
and optically. Fortunately, frame and
lens companies as well as the labs that fabricate
the glasses understand that and offer
Vicki Masliah is director of professional education
at Hirsch Optical, a Farmingdale, N.Y.-
based wholesale laboratory.