While you may not think there is much that goes into making a pair of prescription eyeglasses, the crafting process is more complex than you’d imagine. Modern glasses are customized to the wearer’s needs and are capable of being able to accommodate a wide variety of prescription needs. If you’re curious about the process used to design eyeglasses or you are trying to better understand how to choose glasses that best fit your style and lifestyle, this guide explains how prescription glasses are manufactured.
The Components of Prescription Eyeglasses
Understanding the different parts of eyeglasses can help you choose a pair that is the most comfortable, stylish, and functional for your needs. While the main components of every pair of glasses include the frame and the lenses, you can break these categories down even further.
Eyeglass frames serve the main function of holding the lenses in place and staying secured on the wearer’s head. The front section of the frame includes the rims which surround and hold each lens. A bridge piece connects both lenses to each other, and the end pieces on each outer section of the rims allow the front of the frame to be attached to the arms, or temples, with hinges. The temples of glasses can be made in varying lengths, and they include an angled tip to keep them from falling off.
There are many different types of materials used to make the frames on prescription eyeglasses, which vary in durability, flexibility, and affordability. While metals and plastics are most often used for glasses frames, there are some less common materials that may be used, such as wood. Several of the most widely used metal frame types include:
- Nylon: A durable, lightweight plastic frame material often used for safety glasses or sports frames.
- Aluminum: A popular metal used for its minimal weight and anti-corrosion properties.
- Titanium: A pricier alternative to aluminum, titanium glasses are also lightweight, resistant to corrosion, and incredibly flexible.
- Stainless Steel: These glasses are made from a combination of metals including manganese, chromium, and nickel. They are an affordable option for metal frames while remaining durable and lightweight. However, some people have an allergy to nickel or chromates.
- Flexon: Made from a blend of titanium and nickel, Flexon frames boast incredibly flexibility and have the ability to maintain their shape when bent.
- Cellulose Acetate: Affordable and customizable, acetate glasses are made from plant-based, hypoallergenic plastic. This material can be made in almost any color combination, with varying levels of transparency and finishes.
Frames are available in a variety of shapes and styles, which are designed to meet a variety of tastes and complement different face shapes. Rectangular and oval frames are among the most popular, but round, square, cat-eye, browline, and aviator are other common types of frames. Some people also purchase large, oversized glasses. Different styles of glasses may include minimalist rimless designs, bold frames, or a combination of the two.
Eyeglasses lenses are designed to fit the size and shape of the frames they come with. While lenses were first made out of glass, there are now used far less often. Instead, plastic lenses are the most widely used as they are less likely to break and cause eye injuries. Columbia Resin 39, or CR-39, is a common, affordable material often used for eyeglass lenses. High-index plastic lenses are a thinner, lighter option that has come out more recently due to popular demand. Polycarbonate lenses are incredibly strong, scratch-resistant, and UV resistant. The same material used for military-grade helmet visors, this material is used to make safety and sports glasses due to its impact-resistance and general durability.
The Manufacturing Process
The first step when making a pair of eyeglasses is to make the frame. While the process varies depending on the materials used, die-cutting is a common way frames are manufactured after a certain style is designed. A variety of steps are taken to cut and smooth the material into the final product, including riveting, curving, and polishing. The temples and other pieces of the frames must be assembled and completed before the lens can be placed.
When making lenses, both human interaction and machinery are used to ensure precision and quality. The lenses must first be measured and shaped to match the frames. A block of plastic is then selected and cut to fit these measurements. For glasses that require prescription lenses, this information is entered into a computer system, which is used to curve and cut the lenses to the appropriate thickness to accommodate the prescription. The lenses are then polished, engraved, and inspected to ensure they meet quality expectations. Next, any tints or coatings are applied before the lenses are heated or chemically-treated to easily insert into the frames.
Now that you understand how prescription eyeglasses are made and what different frames and lens options are available, you can choose a pair that best fits your needs. Search our inventory for frames that you like, enter your prescription and lens options, and we’ll take care of the rest!