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This post was most recently updated on June 2nd, 2020
I am going to warn you straight from the start that this article is going to be very bias because I just LOVE plastic frames. I have tried many metal frames over the years and I can rarely find a frame that I truly loved.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t found metal frames over the years that I did truly love, It was just rare.
Plastic and Metal frames each have their pros and cons and will be a matter of personal preference when ultimately deciding which one to go with. Here are the different benefits of both materials and all of their pros and cons.
Plastic vs. Metal Eyeglass Frames
Choosing a pair of frames for your glasses is as equally as important as picking out a good lens for your prescription. When you go to pick your glasses you can basically pick out from two choices plastic or metal frames.
I know, I know, some of you are going to say but what about the titanium frames, and the stainless steel frames, and the rimless ones too. I know, with those frame styles I tend to just kind of group into what I consider “metal frames” due to the way they are designed with the nose pads and all, more on that later.
Anyways plastic and metal frames, you have to pick one. So which one do you pick? Especially whenever you walk into optical offices there are dozens of frames to pick from. So how do you decide on whether you should get plastic or a metal frame?
Well, the office that I worked at, whenever you would come in to get glasses we would have this list of questions that were running a fine line between business and being too personal. It asked questions like what you did for work and what you did in your free time.
With the answers to those, we would be able to give a recommendation of where to start if you had no idea.
Plastic eyeglass frames
They are just better, trust me. I’ll tell you why:
Plastic Frames Pros
- Comfort – Plastic frames are overall just way more comfortable. This is mainly due to plastic frames not having nose pads (Although there are some plastic frames with those pads, gross). Plastic frames have a molded bridge and rest on your nose a lot more comfortable than having two nose pads putting pressure on two spots on your nose.
- Hides Lens Edge – If you have a higher prescription like me there is a chance that the lenses are going to be sticking out on the edges. Plastic frames do a much better job at hiding the extra thickness of the lenses.
- Sturdy – Plastic frames just feel overall more sturdy on your face. If you accidentally bump into something they won’t really bend as much as metal frames might bend. Some people like the feeling of glasses that feel more sturdy on their face instead of being flimsy like metal frames. Remember more sturdy doesn’t translate into more durable.
- More Color Options – Plastic frames overall are available in more colors, this is especially appealing for kids. Although today there are a lot more variety of metal frames that are color, Colored metal frames generally have a tendency to have the paint flake off and show the metal under the paint.
- Style – When you get metal frames you generally are looking for a more conservative and clean business look. Plastic frames occupy the other end of that spectrum offering more bold and colorful styles.
- Hypoallergenic – Plastic frames don’t contain any nickel in them so if you are allergic to nickel than plastic frames are a good choice for you.
- Better for High Rx – If your prescription is on the higher side, plastic lenses do a better job at holding heavier and thicker lenses. Thicker and heavier lenses have a tendency to fall out of metal frames.
Plastic Frames Cons
Do you want plastic frames yet? Well, plastic frames aren’t perfect though, they do come with a drawback.
- Lose Adjustment Quickly – Due to your body’s natural body heat plastic frames have a tendency to get wide and lose adjustment over time. This is an easy fix with a quick trip to your local optician for a quick adjustment. I used to always recommend my patients to come in for regular adjustments especially if they have plastic frames. If you let the frames get wide and let it go for too long as the frame gets older the plastic will get harder which makes it harder for opticians to be able to adjust. Coming in regularly for adjustments will help with that.
Metal eyeglass frames
Metal frames do have their advantages, especially for people that are looking for a less bold look. Metal frames tend to give more of a business professional appearance as well, although times have changed and plastic frames can look sharp in a business look as well. So let’s look at the benefits of Metal Frames
Metal Frames Pros
- Stay in Adjustment – Metal frames hold on to their adjustments a lot better than plastic frames do. Which means metal frames leads to fewer trips to your local optician for adjustments. Although I would still recommend going to your optician regularly and having them check the screws on the frame, more on that later.
- Style – Metal frames offer a very conservative, minimalistic look. It is good for anyone looking for a clean look that isn’t too bold on their face. The other thing with metal frames if the option to get semi-rimless frames which would give even more of a minimalist look without a frame on the bottom of the frame.
- Fine Adjustment – The one benefit of metal frames that stands out is its ability to be able to be finely adjusted due to it having nose pads. In my experience, I have found that whenever someone has broken their nose in the past, plastic frames might not sit correctly on their nose. A metal frame with the nose pads can be adjusted separately from each other making fine adjustments possible.
- Good for Active Lifestyle – People that have more active lifestyles tend to lean more towards metal frames due to them being lightweight and flexible.
Metal Frames Cons
Metal frames are a great choice for people with more active lifestyles that want a minimalist look. Metal frames do come with their drawbacks though and sometimes even though you fit criteria for a metal frame you might not be able to get it. Let’s take a look at the drawbacks:
- Break at Joints – They have a tendency to break at the joints, and this is especially true for the metal frames that don’t have spring hinges. This can be true even for the frames that are flexible and designed to take a beating, they still could break at the joints.
- Metal Allergies – Some people aren’t able to wear metal frames due to the nickel that is in the metal. A good alternative to get is stainless steel or titanium frames.
- Screws Come Out – One of the biggest downsides to metal frames is the fact that the screws constantly come out. The screws come out of the hinges on the arms as well as the screws that are holding the lenses together. People have asked me if they should put glue to help keep the screw in but I don’t recommend glue on the screw because if you ever need to take it off you can’t. I have great luck keeping screws in by dabbing a tiny bit of clear nail polish on the screw after I put it in. That way you can still remove the screw if you need to and it stays in there.
- Bad for High Rx – I am not telling you that you can not get a metal frame if you have a higher prescription, but lenses that are thicker and heavier have a tendency to fall out of metal frames. If the screw loosens just slightly then the lens pops out.
So there aren’t really as many bad things for metal frames as I had imagined in my head, which is more than likely due to that bias I was telling you about earlier. There are options to get around the metal allergy on the metal frames as well. There are different types of metal frames, Some of which don’t contain any nickel and would be suitable for people with an allergy to nickel.
Types of Metal Frames
Unlike plastic frames which are just plastic frames, metal frames come in various different types. Some types are more durable and flexible than others. Within those are some that are suitable for people that are vulnerable to metal allergies. Let’s take a look at some:
- Titanium or Beta-Titanium – Titanium is a popular choice among active eyeglass wearers due to it being lightweight, durable and corrosion-resistant. Beta-Titanium is a blend of various metals but dominantly titanium, and is known to be more flexible than frames that are just titanium. Titanium is a good choice for people with metal allergies.
- Stainless Steel – Stainless steel is also another great choice of metal frames due to its lightweight, durability, and corrosion-resistant properties. This is also a good choice for people with metal allergies.
- Monel – This is the most widely used metal in eyeglass frames due to it being inexpensive. This metal is a combination of various metals but mainly nickel and copper. While these frames are designed with a coating on it to prevent metal allergy reactions, poor quality coatings could corrode away from sweat. This leaves the metal sitting right on your skin which would then potentially cause a skin reaction.
There are more types of metal frames, these are just the most commonly found ones. There are a couple of other metal blends out there that eyeglasses are made up of as well.
Still undecided? Check out this video from Clearly which gives a quick explanation of plastic and metal frames.
So there you have it the benefits of both, I think I did alright at not being too bias. Each type of frame has its benefits, there isn’t truly a clear winner between plastic and metal frames. Ultimately the decision is yours and based on what you do on a daily basis. Those recommendations are only based off of what we opticians know that works, just because you are a sporty outdoor person doesn’t mean that you are going to want a lightweight titanium metal frame (Like me). So what if I have to push my plastic frames up 100 times during my workout Ha.
While I like plastic frames for my everyday glasses that I wear all the time, I like metal frames for my sunglasses more. There is a reason behind that, but that is a story for another day.
Well, I hope you guys all have a great day, thank you for reading. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, let me know below and I will get back to you.
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