Ask an Optician: I Was Told the Frames I Love Won’t Work with My Lens Prescription. What Does That Mean?

Frames and lenses work together to help you see your best. Here’s what you need to know before you try on a new frame.

A woman shopping for glasses at a store

The main job of an optician is to help you find glasses that you love and look good on you — but are also optically correct. So while you may be concentrating on color, size, and style, your optician is also checking that the frames are a good match for your prescription, says Mike Vaughan, an optician and retail operations manager affiliated with America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses. We asked him what people need to know about finding the perfect pair.   

Can I choose any frames for my prescription?  

Not necessarily. “Frames can be adjusted, but sometimes a lens and a frame do not play well together,” says Vaughan.  

The reason? Your lens prescription. “When you come into the store, we may steer you away from certain types of frames, even if they feel fine to you, based on what your prescription reads,” he explains. 

Let’s say you have severe myopia (nearsightedness, or difficulty seeing things far away). The lenses to correct for that will be thick on the outside edge and then become thinner toward the middle.

In this example, he says, your optician may rule out some larger frames or even certain styles that would cause vision distortion and disrupt the crispness of your sight once your prescription lens was inserted into the frame. 

Additionally, the higher your myopic prescription is, the flatter the lens you’ll need.

“Many people like sports frames in glasses or sunglasses, but these frames are generally curved — you may hear your optician use the term 'wrapped,’” he says. “If you have a high prescription, it will require placing a flat object into something curved. It just won’t have a good result, even if we can technically do it.” 

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Also, remember that the bigger the frame you buy, the larger the lenses and the heavier your frames will become.

“If you then also choose thick or heavy frame materials, the glasses can feel burdensome on your face,” Vaughan adds. “Your America’s Best optician can help point out all of the nuances that affect comfort and vision correction, along with style.” 

Bottom line: Certain frames may fit your face but not fit your prescription.   

How does a bifocal or trifocal prescription affect what frames are options for me? 

When you wear a bifocal, the top of the lens is adjusted for distance, while the bottom has a stronger prescription for viewing things up close. (Trifocals have a third, intermediate distance zone.) To see, you have to tilt your chin based on how near or far you’re trying to focus.  

“Some small frames may not work for you, as they may inadvertently cut out a portion of your sight and render the bifocal basically useless,” he says.   

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I see that there are different lens materials available. What goes into choosing that? 

You’ll want to consider your comfort needs and certain lifestyle factors. “If you wear your glasses from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, for example, you’ll be happiest with a lightweight lens,” he says. “And if you’re a kid or have a job that’s very active, you’ll appreciate lenses that are impact-resistant.” 

Some of the options your optician will show you:   

CR-39: This is our most popular lens, and it’s included in the price with all frames. It’s a lightweight, high-quality plastic (CR-39 stands for Columbia Resin #39) that is especially well-suited to those with very basic vision correction. “These lenses work with most frames, although I don’t recommend them if you’re buying an open frame, where a portion of the lens will be exposed,” says Vaughan.   

Verilite™: This polycarbonate lens is strong, impact- and scratch-resistant, and won’t chip. It’s the toughest and lightest-weight lens we offer. “That’s a big plus if you’re someone who has found that past glasses have been too heavy, or if the nose pads left giant footprints in your nose. If that sounds like you, you will love the Verilite lens.”   

Vaughan also recommends these lenses for active individuals and children because they’re impact-resistant and especially safe. In fact, kids ages 13 and under get an automatic upgrade to these lenses to guard against potential breakage.   

Verithin™: This is the thinnest lens we offer. It’s made from a special type of plastic that bends light more efficiently — that’s why it’s called a high-index lens. Verithin is great for strong prescriptions, which is any number greater than +/- 6.00. These lenses work with every frame style.    

Your optician will walk you through each option and help you identify the best choice for your needs. 

You have choices when it comes to your lenses! Let the eye care specialists at America’s Best show you selections that are right for your prescription and your lifestyle. Click here to explore our lens options.