Spectacles and Frames

Spectacles as fashion accessories? What an eccentric idea…

Spectacle Frames are now claiming their rightful place as fashion items, and to make the most of any outfit you need to look at your eyewear as an accessory rather than a “necessary evil”.

Would you wear the same shoes with your best party clothes and your smartest business wear? For most people the answer is a definitive “No Way!”, so why expect the same spectacles to go with both?

I once heard that Parisian women own, on average, seven different pairs of spectacles! They change their eyewear to go with their outfits. Isn’t it time we started to do the same?

Use your spectacles as part of your overall look; don’t just plonk them on your nose as an afterthought. The wrong spectacles can make a fantastic outfit look cheap. We spend ages choosing the right jewellery, shoes and hairstyle to go with an outfit, why ruin it all with a decrepit, out-dated bland pair of spectacles?

Want more than one pair but worried about the cost? Eyeplantm is the answer! Pay a small monthly fee and get huge discounts on all frames and lenses. Click here for more information.

Plastic or metal frames?

There are two main types of materials for spectacle frames; metal and plastic. The choice is yours and the decision is generally made on style and comfort, although some consideration must be given to your prescription.

Plastic frames tend to be bright, chunky designs which make a bold statement.

We also stock a range of more subtle classic ladies and gents plastic frames for those who prefer something a bit more discrete!

Plastic frames usually sit directly on the bridge of the nose as the nose pads are moulded as part of the frame. This distributes the weight of the frame more evenly across the nose and can be more comfortable if you have a sensitive nose, but it does mean that they cannot be adjusted. If it doesn’t fit when you try it on, it  probably cannot be made to fit later. Plastic frames tend to sit closer to the eyes so if you have very long eyelashes or a very strong prescription make sure your eyelashes don’t touch the lenses.

Some plastic frame ranges come with an option to fit adjustable pads at no additional cost so please ask if you fall in love with a plastic frame that doesn’t quite fit you.

Metal frames vary hugely in their design characteristics from subtle “barely there” rimless to bright acid colours with hugely ornamental sides, with all sorts in between.

Most metal frames have nose pads attached to adjustable metal arms. This makes the frames very adjustable so a good fit can be achieved on most people, This adjustment is especially important if you are having bifocal or varifocal lenses as the correct fit is critical to the success of these lenses.

If you have an active lifestyle a memory alloy frame could be for you. These frames are resistant to fatigue therefore will not kink or break easily. They have a memory so, unlike other metals, they can return to their original set shape. FlexonTM is the original memory metal frame material, supplied by Marchon, and here at Sarah Gibson Optometrist we maintain a good selection of these tough frames for both ladies and gents. If you break your frames regularly it is worth looking at this range.

Some metal frames contain Nickel so if you have a known Nickel allergy please ask for advice when looking at new frames.

Always ask for advice when choosing your frames. Some frames are not really suitable for certain prescriptions and you will be advised of the most suitable type of frame when you are trying them on. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what type of frame suits you best. At Sarah Gibson Optometrist we use qualified Dispensing Opticians who are highly qualified to advise on the best pair for your needs. They will take into consideration your personality,  lifestyle, colouring, face shape and your prescription when making recommendations.

How frame choice affects the lens thickness

Your choice of frame can have a significant effect on the thickness of your lenses and hence the overall final appearance of your glasses . Always ask for advice on the size and type of frame that is most suited to your prescription. Our Dispensing Optician will discuss the most suitable frames for your prescription and will guide you in your choices so that you get the best possible outcome.

Be proud of your spectacles. Make them part of who you are, not an afterthought!

Spectacle Lenses

Lens Materials

Spectacle lenses are available in either glass or plastic.

Glass used to be the best choice for high prescriptions as it could be made thinner than plastic, but plastic lens technology has moved on so much in recent years that glass lenses tend to be reserved for specialist lenses.

Lens Coatings

  • Scratch resistant or hard coating. This can be put on plastic lenses to toughen the surface, making them less prone to scratching. It is not entirely scratch proof but will prolong the life of a lens under normal use. It is especially useful on reading glasses that may be taken off and left lying around.
  • Anti reflection coating.  This can be applied to both glass and plastic lenses and is designed to both improve the wearer’s vision and the appearance of the spectacles.
  • An anti reflection coating dramatically reduces the surface reflections from the spectacle lenses, which can be distracting and tiring for the wearer. We would strongly recommend anti reflection lenses for anyone who drives, or who uses a screen of any kind, be that phone, table, laptop, PC or even Smart boards in school

If you have tried coated lenses in the past but hated the way they smeared when you cleaned them, ask about the new easy clean coatings. You will be pleasantly surprised. The new generation of multi layer easy clean anti-reflection coatings means that along with the usual benefits, the lens surface is now smoother, attracts less dirt and is easier to   clean. A hydrophobic and oliophobic top layer causes oil and water deposits to bead and form droplets upon contact with the lenses, instead of spreading out. This allows the   droplets to glide away easily when cleaning, rather than being smeared around the lenses.

  • Blue Light filter. These lenses can help reduce eyestrain and tiredness caused by blue light emitted from smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs. Some people are more susceptible to the fatiguing effects of blue light than others but everyone should be mindful of the fact that our modern lives are exposing us to far more   blue light than ever before. There is ongoing research to determine if this increased exposure is causing long term damage to our eyes. If you find yourself getting headaches or eyestrain with your devices, consider a blue light filter. There is a lot of research showing that excessive blue light, particularly in the hour before bed, affects both our ability to get to sleep and the quality of our sleep.

Photochromic Lenses

Photochromic lenses darken when activated by UV light. They are virtually clear indoors and darken on exposure to UV outdoors.

The most common Photochromic lens available now is Transitions lenses. The old Reactolite lenses are no longer made but we still recognise the term as they were the original light reactive lenses.These are available from many manufacturers in many designs and are even available as thinner and lighter materials.

They are excellent lenses for an outdoor lifestyle as they negate the need for additional sunglasses, but they are not suitable as driving sunglasses as they will not react particularly well behind a car windscreen. They require a certain amount of UV to activate the colour change and the car windscreen, being glass, will block the necessary UV.

There is a Photochromic lens that works differently and will work in a car. DrivewearTM lenses are a variable tint lens specially designed, as the name suggests, to react to different driving conditions. Unlike standard Photochromic lenses they have a permanent base tint which then gets darker as the sun gets brighter. They are not suitable for night driving as they do not go completely clear in the unreacted state.

Photochromic lenses are wonderful if you are outdoors a lot and can’t be bothered swapping between your clear specs and your sunglasses, but the reaction is not instantaneous. The lenses will darken in approximately 1-2 minutes but can take up to 17 minutes to go completely clear again. The speed of the reaction will depend on the actual photochromic material, the lens thickness, temperature and the age of the lens. It is also worth noting that all photochromic lenses will darken more if it is cold, although the latest material technology has reduced this tendency significantly compared to older versions.

Single Vision Lenses

Single vision lenses are designed to help the wearer with a single specific task and have a limited range of focus.

  • Distance vision – . driving, watching television, Cinema, Theatre etc
  • Intermediate vision – Computer screens, painting, tapestry, playing card games such as Bridge – typically at arms length
  • Close vision  reading or other fine detailed work close up

Digital Fatigue Lenses

These lenses have been designed as a direct result of the modern digital phenomenon – the first back lit LED device was introduced in 1997, the first iPhone was introduced in 2007 followed by the iPad in 2010. We now spend on average, 9.5 hours a day looking at a screen of some sort.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms during or after screen use you may benefit from these lenses.

If the wearer requires a different prescription for any or all of these tasks, which is often the case at the age of 40+, then they can either have two, or even three separate pairs of spectacles, or for more convenience opt for bifocals or Varifocals.


Bifocal lenses allow the wearer to see distance and reading in one pair of Spectacles. They contain the distance prescription in the top half of the lens, and near vision in the bottom half. These lenses do look slightly different from single vision lenses as they contain a visible line, which separates the two prescriptions.

Occupational or Office lenses

Occupational lenses are designed for modern life where the vast majority of the day is spent indoors looking at various screens at different distances. If you need reading glasses they provide a significantly greater range of focus than a single vision reading lens but are not as good for very long range vision as a varifocal lens. 

Varifocals (also called Multifocals or Progressive Addition Lenses)

Varifocal lenses provide the wearer with clear vision at all distances; distance, mid range (i.e. computer distance), and near in one pair of spectacles, therefore suiting a wider range of visual needs. In addition to providing a greater range of clear vision, they are cosmetically more appealing than bifocals as they do not contain any visible lines to indicate the wearer has them. Modern designs mean that getting used to a Varifocal lens is quite easy for most people. Don’t be put off by these lenses just because your friend or relatives didn’t get on with them. We are all different and some people adapt more readily than others. Lens designs are improving all the time and even people who couldn’t get used to them a few years ago can now wear the newer designs.

How frame choice affects the lens thickness

Your choice of frame can have a significant effect on the thickness of your lenses and hence the overall final appearance of your glasses . Always ask for advice on the size and type of frame that is most suited to your prescription. Our Dispensing Optician will discuss the most suitable lenses to suit your prescription and the frames you have chosen and will guide you in your choices so that you get the best possible outcome.

Frames we stock:

Eco – Beautiful ladies and gents frames with an amazing eco friendly pedigree – made with recycled materials or 63% castor seeds AND frame sales =  trees planted – over 2 million trees planted so far  https://www.modo.com/

Pro Design – designed by Eyewear Architects who believe in creating innovative eyewear with a close-knit relationship between functionality and visual expression. https://designeyeweargroup.com/en/brands/prodesign-denmark

Cocoa Mint – Contemporary, stylish and infused with chic sophistication, Designed in Great Britain https://www.eyespace-eyewear.co.uk/brand?brid30

Jenson –  Designer-led and instinctively modern, The essence of Great British Design  https://www.eyespace-eyewear.co.uk/jensen

Louis marcell  – Timeless and elegant, contemporary-classic design centred around exquisite Italian acetates, Swarovski crystals and superior enamel accents https://www.eyespace-eyewear.co.uk/brand?brid29

Barbour – based on the founding principles of quality, attention to detail, fitness for purpose and durability established by John Barbour more than 100 years ago. https://www.norville.co.uk/acatalog/barbour.html

X-Eyes – Designed for people of all ages who like to stay ahead of the latest trends http://continental-eyewear.com/brands/x-eyes/

Jaques Lamont Stylish frames with a touch of sophistication http://continental-eyewear.com/brands/jacques-lamont/

Silhouette – incredibly lightweight rimless and plastic frames made in Austria  https://www.silhouette.com/gb/en/brand

Mattisse – uniquely colourful handpainted frames made in Italy  http://mattisseeyewear.com/about-2/

Flexon – Flexible memory metal frames for those who need tougher than average eyewear http://www.flexon.com/

Convertibles – Contemporary functional eyewear with magnetic clip on sunglasses as part of the deal  http://www.convertibleseyewear.com/

Maui Jim Sunglasses The ultimate in Polarised Sunglass technology – born on the beaches of Maui  https://www.mauijim.com/GB/en_GB/technology

Rodenstock Sunglasses Classic range of prescription and non prescription sunglasses to suit all budgets https://www.rodenstock.com/uk/en/sunglasses.html