Ask an Optician: Your Top Frame and Lenses Questions, Answered

An America’s Best optician sets the record straight regarding some of the most frequently asked frame and lens questions.

A young woman trying on glasses at a store

If you have questions about your vision or eye health, you know to turn to an optometrist. But if you have a question about frames and lenses, an optician is the go-to.

Opticians are up to date on the latest frame trends and lens coatings available. And they can make quick repairs or adjustments to your eyeglasses.

The optician is typically the last person you see before leaving your eye doctor’s office. They spend time helping you pick out frames and walking you through your lens options. And in that time, they’re used to fielding plenty of eyewear questions from customers.

We turned to Mike Vaughan, an optician and retail operations manager with America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, to set the record straight on some of the questions he hears most often.

Has it been a while since your last eye exam? Now’s the time to book an appointment!

How often do I need to replace the frames of my glasses?

Frames generally last between three and five years, Vaughan says. But it ultimately depends on your lifestyle. (Remember if your vision prescription changes, you’ll need new lenses so you can see clearly and prevent problems like eye strain, headaches, or dizziness.)

“People who are rough on their glasses may go through frames every six months or every year,” he says. And people who live in warmer climates may need to replace their glasses more often. That’s because sweat can wear the finishing off your frames, Vaughan says.

Taking care of your eyeglasses can extend their life cycle. Try these tips from Vaughan:

  • Have multiple options. If you wear the same pair of glasses every day, they’ll have a shorter lifespan. Swapping them out with another pair can make both pairs last longer. (America’s Best offers a free eye exam with the purchase of two pairs of glasses.)
  • Use both hands to take off your glasses. Using one hand to remove your specs puts uneven amounts of pressure on your frame arms. Over time, this can cause the arm to snap off.
  • Make sure you’re wearing the right frames. Depending on your lifestyle and occupation, your optician may recommend a different frame or lens material to help extend the life of your glasses. For example, sweat can take the finish off your eyeglass frames. Someone who works outdoors and sweats a lot may be best suited to anticorrosive titanium frames, Vaughan says.

Recommended reading: Do You Have the Right Eyeglasses for Your Job?

I like frames in the men’s and women’s sections. Is there a difference? 

There are a few key differences between frames on opposite walls of your eye doctor’s office.

Men’s frames are typically larger. Women’s frames may have more “flair, color and personality,” Vaughan says.

But don’t let that stop you from picking out any style you love.

“Regardless of what side of the store the frames are on, anyone can use them and can wear them,” Vaughan says. “Gender shouldn’t detract anybody from looking for frames on either side of the store.”

If you find similar frames on both sides of the store, the men’s frame is likely bigger, Vaughan says. And if your frames are too big for your face, you won’t be able to see well out of the lenses.

That’s because your prescription plays a big role in your frame selection — or at least it should, Vaughan says.

“If you have a big frame with a high prescription and a tiny face, you’re going to have a lot of what’s called ‘decentration,’” he says. “That means the center of the lens is closer to the bridge of the frame, closer to your nose. There’s a ton of excess lens to the left and right of that, and it creates a lot of distortion when you have all that extra material.”

So, feel free to browse frames on both sides of the store. But keep your fit and prescription in mind.

Press play for simple tips on finding the best glasses for your face:

Can I have my frames shipped to my home?

Yes, you can. Whether you’re moving, heading out of town when your glasses are due to arrive, or just too busy to pop over to your local America’s Best to pick up your frames, you can have them shipped anywhere for just $4.95 when you purchase them in-store. (Orders placed online can still get free shipping.)

The only issue: Your frames won’t be perfectly adjusted to fit your face when they arrive, Vaughan says. That’s because your optician will fine-tune your frames before you leave the store. If you have your frames shipped to your home (or anywhere else), you may still need to visit an America’s Best so your optician can adjust them.

Can scratched lenses be fixed?

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to fix a scratched lens.

“There’s a specific curve that’s shaved into the lens that makes your prescription,” says Vaughan. “Any change to that curve or the lens surface area is going to change the prescription.” So, there’s no way to buff out those scratches.

America’s Best offers scratch-resistant lens materials, such as polycarbonate lenses, to help prevent this from happening.

And our Product Protection Plan protects your lenses for one year for a small additional fee. If they get scratched, America’s Best will replace them.

Why is it hard for me to see out of my new glasses?

Have you ever put on new eyeglasses and thought, “I can see better, but something feels weird”?

This is normal, Vaughan says. It’s just your brain getting used to the new way light is hitting your retina.

“Your eyes are used to how light has been coming in, in a certain way for a set amount of time, whether it’s a year or several years,” Vaughan says. “When you get a new prescription or a new type of lens, it’s going to make the light hit your eyes in a new way.”

Even minor changes to a lens prescription can require an adjustment period, so try to be patient as your eyes get used to your new specs.

Another factor that may take some getting used to: switching from metal to plastic frames.

“Some folks feel like they can’t see as much because the plastic is thicker,” Vaughan says. “It’s just somebody who isn’t used to seeing that much frame in their peripheral vision.” But it’s something your eyes will adjust to over time.

Recommended reading: 10 Ways to Adjust to Your New Eyeglasses Prescription

What’s the best way to clean eyeglasses?

Most of us are probably guilty of wiping our lenses with the bottom of our T-shirt at some point in our lives. But using the wrong materials to clean your lenses can damage them.

Cleaning your glasses properly can make them last longer. According to Vaughan, the best way to do it is with a spray cleaning solution specifically designed for eyeglass lenses and a microfiber cloth. Things like paper towels, cotton shirts, and window cleaner are too abrasive and can leave scratches on your lenses.

Here’s how Vaughan cleans his eyeglasses:

  • Spray both sides of the lens. “I’m gratuitous with my lens spray because I want any debris, like dirt or an eyelash, to drip off the lens,” he says.
  • Wrap the lens in a microfiber cloth “like it’s the meat of a taco,” Vaughan says.
  • Start on the outside top of the lens and work in, like you’re making a backward C with your fingers.
  • Then fine-tune around the edges of the lens.

Aim to clean your glasses once a day. And once you put them on your face, try not to touch them.

“If you clean them once at the beginning of the day and put them on your face and leave them there and don’t touch them, they really shouldn’t get smudgy,” Vaughan says.

Press play for a quick refresher on the dos and don’ts to keep your eyeglasses clean: