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Are Metal or Plastic Eyeglass Frames Better?

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A display rack full of eyeglasses to choose from.

Picking a new set of eyeglasses is an exciting part of vision care. With so many options and styles available, you may consider which frame options are better.

Deciding between metal or plastic frames is a matter of preference, lifestyle, and vision prescription. Both frame materials have their pros and cons, there is no matter of “better”.

Metal Eyeglass Frames

Metal frames usually have adjustable nose pads. This can be a pro or a con depending on your personal preference. Nose pads provide a precise fit and prevent your glasses from sliding down your face. However, some individuals may find them uncomfortable, heavy, or dislike how nose pads leave slight indents on their skin. 

Metal frames can be made from nickel, titanium, stainless steel, or mixed metals.

Pros of Metal Frames  

Metal frames can be very light depending on the material the frame is made from. Titanium is a lightweight, durable metal that won’t tarnish from sweat or daily wear.

Metals like titanium and stainless steel are gentle on the skin and great for individuals who may have an allergy or sensitivity to other metals. 

Metal frames offer a variety of style options, such as full-rim glasses, semi-rimless glasses (the top or bottom of the frame has no metal), or rimless (there’s no metal frame around the lenses, just the arms and bridge). Individuals who don’t like the look of traditional eyeglass frames may prefer the minimalist look of semi-rimmed or rimless glasses.  

Metal frames can come in several color options, from colors like green, pink, or blue, to neutral colors like gold and silver which can complement your skin tone. 

Cons of Metal Frames  

Some individuals may have an allergy to certain kinds of metal, like nickel. This can lead to a rash where the metal touches the skin, or a temporary green on your skin when oils mix with the metal.

While metal frames are available in several color options, they also tend to be delicate and sleek. If you’re looking for a big bold frame, metal frames aren’t the direction to take. 

If you have a high vision prescription, thin metal frames may not be able to accommodate thicker lenses. If you’d like most of your lenses to be hidden in the frame of your glasses, picking a bold plastic frame will be a better choice.

Plastic Eyeglass Frames 

While some plastic frames now offer adjustable nose pads, a feature commonly seen in metal frames, the selection choices for plastic frames with this feature are still quite limited. For individuals who prefer eyeglasses without adjustable nose pads, plastic frames provide a wide variety of stylish options to suit this preference.

Pros of Plastic Frames  

Plastic frames are a great option for kids because the material is more durable compared to metal frames. Children may bend metal frames out of shape, which will affect how the glasses sit on their faces. Plastic frames are heat sensitive, meaning if they become bent out of shape for any reason, they can be re-heated and adjusted in-store

Plastic frames include more bold and versatile style options. They can range from a sleek black frame to a bold, thick frame that can include several different color and pattern options. Thick plastic frames can better accommodate high prescriptions. 

Cons of Plastic Frames 

If you’re looking for a sleek, minimal glasses frame, plastic frames aren’t the way to go. Plastic frames are great for individuals who want a bold, noticeable look. Consider metal frames if you’re looking for something light and delicate.

Plastic frames tend to be heavier than metal frames, this is influenced by how high your glasses prescription is.

Not all plastic frames have adjustable nose pads. Plastic frames with no adjustable nose pads mean that your glasses may slide down your face as the adjustments loosen up. They will have to be adjusted and tightened regularly.  

Choosing The Right Frame

Both metal and plastic eyeglass frames have their own pros and cons. The “better option” depends on an individual’s preference, lifestyle, and vision prescription. 

Metal frames are a great option for individuals who prefer nose pads, and the look of a thin, sleek, neutral-colored frame.  

Plastic frames are a great option for individuals with a high, complex glasses prescription and like the look of a bold frame. Plastic frames offer a wider selection of patterns and colors. However, the lack of adjustable nose pads means the frames will need frequent adjustment and tightening.

When picking your next set of eyeglasses, consider your day-to-day activities. Think about where you’ll be wearing your glasses most: work, at home, driving, or running errands. 

The Professional Advantage

An optometrist presenting a pair of eyeglasses to her patient.

Regardless of the eyeglass frame option you are leaning more toward, consider purchasing your eyeglasses from your optometrist. While the convenience of online shopping is appealing, purchasing your glasses through an online vendor often means receiving glasses with compromised quality. 

Working with your optometrist and optician helps ensure that the glasses prescription, measurement, and frame size are accurate to your vision needs. They’re able to double-check that the information being sent to the lens manufacturer is accurate and verify that the lens prescription was made correctly.

Our expert advice can help determine which frames and lenses are best suited for your vision prescription. For example, an individual with a high and complex vision prescription may be better suited for a plastic eyeglasses frame instead of a thin metal frame. 

Come For a Visit! 

Picking out new glasses is an exciting part of eye care! With many styles to choose from, metal or plastic, take the opportunity to try on a selection of frames to find out what you like best! Purchasing your glasses from your eye care experts provides an expert advantage to your vision needs. Visit our team and browse our eyewear selection!

Written by Lareina Yeung

Dr. Yeung graduated with her Honours Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Optometry degrees from the University of Waterloo in 2003. Upon graduation, she joined the team at Queensway Optometric Centre (QOC). In addition to her work at QOC, Dr. Yeung served on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) for 7 years, where she chaired and participated in various committees. Dr. Yeung spent her final year at the OAO as Vice President and is a recipient of the OAO President’s Award for her outstanding contribution to the profession.
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