Ask an Optician: I’m Told the Frames I Love Won’t Work for Me. Huh?

More goes into a proper-fitting frame than too loose or too tight temples. Here’s what you need to know. 

young adult man trying on new eyeglasses

When you walk into a store to look for eyeglasses, you’re probably drawn to a few popular features the most: color, shape, and what’s trending now. So when you find frames that seem perfect, it can be disheartening to hear that they don’t fit your face — or your prescription. 

But it’s advice you should pay attention to. Your optician assesses glasses in a way that customers can’t, says Mike Vaughan, an optician and retail operations manager affiliated with America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses. The goal is that your new specs don’t just look good in the mirror — they also do their best to correct your vision. We asked Vaughan’s to help answer some common questions can help make shopping for eyeglasses a much more satisfying experience.  

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When considering the fit of frames, what is an optician looking for? 

You want your glasses to look good on you. “Opticians want that too,” says Vaughan, “but they also need to make sure they fit you well and that they accommodate your prescription.” 

Here’s what opticians check for: 

Temple length: The temples are what non-opticians refer to as the arms on the frame. The natural bend should sit right over the tops of your ears.  

Pupil position: Your pupils should be as centered in the lenses as possible.  

Frame size: The frames shouldn’t be so big that you can see around someone’s head through their glasses or so small that the widest part of the lens sits at the end of the eyes, Vaughan explains. The widest part of the frame should meet the widest part of your head. 

Bridge fit: This is more important in plastic frames that do not have nose pads. “You want a pair that sits nice and flush on your nose,” he says. “Metal frames have adjustable nose pads, which can be tinkered with to fit your face properly.” 

There’s one more important check opticians look for: your lens prescription. “Sometimes when we say a frame doesn’t fit you, it’s not because it doesn’t fit your face — it’s because it doesn’t accommodate your prescription,” he says. 

Here’s what that means: Let’s say you have a very strong prescription. The thickness of the lenses required to correct your vision may rule out certain styles. Or the optician may know that lenses in your prescription strength could technically fit into the frames you love, but they won’t do as good a job at giving you clear eyesight.  

“In that case, we’ll ask what you love about a particular frame and suggest alternate styles,” says Vaughan.   

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What’s the best way to shop for glasses? There are so many options, it can be tough to know where to start. 

When a customer walks into the store to purchase frames, Vaughan says his first step is to ask them to describe what they like and dislike about their current pair of glasses — or what they like about styles they’ve seen, if they don’t currently wear glasses.  

“Then we get to the fun part: pulling styles to try on.” Vaughan says he usually tells customers to pick seven or eight frames that they really like. 

If you’re overwhelmed by all the choices, start with something simple: color. Think about the colors you like to wear, or that you naturally gravitate toward.  

“Personally, I love fall colors no matter what time of year it is, so that’s what I would gravitate toward,” he says. “You have to think about what you like and what you know complements your features and wardrobe. Then I can help pull frames that I think will look good on you and will accommodate your current prescription. We can look in the mirror and try them on one by one.” 

Not a big fan of browsing? “That’s completely fine,” he adds. “Opticians at America’s Best are great at taking the lead and helping you through the process. They may even get you out of your comfort zone a bit.” 

He says he makes a point of showing customers a range of styles — frames that he describes as “exciting, trendy, different, and cool. In my experience, customers will often go with one of the ‘wild card’ frames I choose, because we both get excited when we see how good they look when they put them on for the first time.”   

If a frame I like feels too tight or too loose, what can an optician do to adjust them? And what can’t they do? 

Something like frames that slide down your nose is a relatively quick fix, he says: “We would heat up the temple tip — the curve in the temple over your ear — and tighten it to fit snugly around your ear.”  

If it feels like the frames are too wide on your face, there are times when the optician can help — and times when they can’t. “With certain frames, we can manipulate the width by adjusting how they curve around your face,” Vaughan says. “But this is one of those instances where you do run the risk of changing the prescription slightly because of the added curve, though, so take the advice of your America’s Best optician about whether this fix can work in your situation. 

“What we can’t do is add or subtract material from the glasses,” he continues. “We can’t make a frame wider, add length to the temples, or make the frames themselves narrower or slimmer. Also, once the lenses are cut, we can’t manipulate the thickness of them.” 

Your America’s Best optician will work to adjust your glasses in every way possible to ensure that they are comfortable — and that you can see well out of them. “Because only then will you be content and happy to wear them,” he says.