We’ve come a long way since the 1960s era of heavy and thick plastic eyewear with glass lenses. While the nostalgic look is quickly coming back in style, we are fortunate that modern design and materials allow for much lighter weight eyewear! If you are under the assumption that lightweight glasses are fragile or not built with the same durability, think again. You can achieve style, function, comfort, and durability in a high quality pair of lightweight glasses.

You might be wondering, who is making the best lightweight glasses? Well, the eyewear market is really evolving in that small independent eyewear companies are super innovative, while the big dogs like Calvin Klein, Oakley, Nike, and Rayban are falling behind in quality and design as they have become mass market products. The eyewear brands that are making desired apparel tend to fly under the radar so you may not recognize them just yet.

However, don’t confuse little name recognition for bad products. These products are exceptionally sleek, you’ll be getting compliments everywhere you go wearing this type of modern and trendy eyewear.

To understand the components of a frame that make it lightweight, you need to know about different types of metals, plastics, hinges, screws and overall frame design.

How Lightweight Glasses Are Made

Most big branded frames are made in similar factories and then a logo is slapped on them. 15 years ago, the quality of these products was much better, but now most are made in China out of inferior materials and craftsmanship.

We know how you feel about uncomfortable frames We have all made bad glasses purchases unknowingly. They leave red marks on your nose, slip down your face, and irritate your head. There are surprising still a lot of glasses haters out there. They think all glasses are uncomfortable or unflattering. That’s far from the truth. If you find the right optician or optometrist who carries high quality luxury eyewear, you will find that the comfort comes naturally, just like your favorite pair of running shoes. You know you’ve found the right pair of glasses when you hardly feel them resting on your face… some may call this the perfect fit.

Glasses are generally divided into 2 categories: plastic and metal. However, that’s quite the simplification. There is a big variety of plastic and metals today, and some of the materials are exclusive to glasses production. Next time you go shopping for glasses, ask your optician if they have any of these new-age plastics and metals. It’s pretty remarkable how many ways you can utilize the production of plastic and metal!

Types of eyewear materials:

  • TR90 and Ultem
    • TR90 is a super lightweight and flexible plastic developed in South Korea. You could literally take a temple made of TR90 and wrap it in Blue TR90 eyeglass frames.acircular motion around your finger and it would spring back into place perfectly when you let go. The plastic doesn’t have a “memory” and is extremely flexible, therefore is highly durable and resilient to to people who are rough and tough on glasses.

TR90 can be made in any color possible and even different color combinations. Many times, you’ll find that the material is translucent in color. Even though it’s clear, it can be fun translucents like red, blue, or any color. TR90 feels silky and smooth and glides on the face for easy wearing. Ultem is very similar to TR90 in feel and construction. However, it is an amorphous thermoplastic polyetherimide material. It’s highly flexible and super lightweight.

  • Cellulose Acetate (plastic)

    • Many of us shy away from purchasing plastic frames because they are usually thick, clunky, and heavy. But, plastic frames are NOT what they used to be! Plastic materials can actually be manufactured to be very thin. Most plastic frame fronts are known to be 4 to 6 millimeters thick. Today, plastic frames can be made 2-3 millimeters thick, which helps shave off a lot of weight. A few grams of weight reduction goes a long way for creating comfort on the face.
    • Plastic acetate frames also have different weights depending on the material compositions. Some plastics are higher in density and heavier, while others are more airy and lightweight. When searching for a lightweight plastic frame, it’s important not to judge a frame by its look. You’ll be surprised when you pick up a chunky looking frame, and find that it’s as light as a feather!

Blue and black David Kind designer frames.

  • Titanium
    • Titanium is one of the most resilient and durable metals used for glasses. It’s far superior than low cost metals like nickel because it does not corrode, it’s hypoallergenic, and strong. The most lightweight glasses will be made of titanium.

Gotti frames made from titanium.

    • There are two types of titanium for glasses: pure titanium and beta titanium. Glasses that are more firm will be pure, and those with a more flexible structure are beta. Nearly all of the titanium in the world for glasses is made in Japan. The Japanese are known for their high standards for products. They are a very detail oriented society that cares about quality. A high quality titanium frame will last a lifetime if you take care of it. The solders of the frames are strong and can withstand normal wear and tear very well. There’s a misconception that flexible or lightweight glasses are not durable, but the long life of a titanium frame prove this wrong. You might be used to seeing titanium in boring colors, but with sophisticated scientific methods, you can change the color through dielectric processes (look this up). Titanium can also be gold plated for an extra fancy look. Note: The gold plating is not painted on it’s added with a special process called PVD (poly vapor deposition).
  • Stainless Steel
    • A stainless steel frame shares many of the same attributes as titanium, however, it comes in at a little lower cost. The material is more flexible and widely used as it’s easy to source the raw goods before manufacturing the glasses. You will commonly see stainless steel eyewear that are super light as frames which are called full-metal-grooves. The eye wire on the front of the glasses is super thin at about 0.7mm (as thin as a strand of floss), and sometimes hardly noticeable. The flexibility of the materials allows it to be made thin, but remain durable. Not many opticals carry this marvelous product, so you will need to search for it.

Stainless steel Jaguar frames.

      • A few good brands to checkout are Lindberg, Ovvo, IC Berlin, Mykita, Reykjavik, Silhouette. The flexibility of these frames permits the styles to forego having to add unnecessary hinges to the temples, which cuts down the weight significantly.
  • 3D Printed Polyamide
    • You have probably heard about this type of technology. However, making glasses from 3D printing actually has a practical application. It’s not an easy process like you might think. From the initial architecture design of the frame, to dyeing and hand sanding — there’s a lot of human intelligence and skill that goes into making these beautifully modern and artistic pieces of eyewear.

Maroon colored 3D printed Monoqool frames.

    • Many times, 3D glasses are made from a material called polyamide. The material feels rough in nature if you were to run your finger across it. It’s not smooth like a shiny polished plastic frame. This rough texture gives the eyewear a distinct pop of excitement on one’s face. Polyamide is slightly flexible, but nothing you would want to be too rough on.
    • The colors polyamide come in are not like anything you have ever seen. The colors are all matte finished or can appear to have a little gloss. The texture of the frames gives them a muted color appeal, which looks astonishing on guys and gals alike who want a clean and refined aesthetic, while breaking the norm of generic plastic frames.
    • Polyamide frames can be paired with a polyamide temple and nice spring hinge, or can be combined with a titanium temples for an edgier look.
    • Popular brands include: Gotti, Monoqool, Roger Bacon, Mykita, Specsy, Orgreen. Watch the video to see how Gotti is manufactured here.
  • Wood
    • If you love organic goods, wood is the eyewear you need! Wood frames feel nice and smooth when you slide them on your face. We always associate wood with being heavy, probably because we all hate moving heavy furniture around the house.These types of frames are not solid wood (this would make them easy to break like snapping a twig). A good wooden frame is made from binding thin layers of wood and compositing together to form something extra strong. You can keep each layer the same color and type of wood, or mix and match for a fun multicolor look.

Black and maroon 3DNA wooden frames.

    • The durability of wood is nothing you need to worry about. The frames hold up just fine. Just don’t immerse them in water for hours!
      Wood is a fun material to use for glasses because the material begins to age over time, and develops a patina or distressed look with the natural aging process. You can also develop other wood colors by dyeing the woods to funky colors or choose to keep the natural raw beauty of it.
    • All wood frames are paired with some type of spring hinge to give it the flexibility it needs to feel comfortable while wearing them. You will also find the frames can be paired with a thin metal temple to add an ultra luxurious look.

You may never have associated the weight of a frame with the hinges it has, but for some glasses, over 25% of the weight comes from hinges, which is the piece that connects the temples and frame front.

People used to believe that you needed a thick, bulky, and sturdy hinge to have a quality pair of frames. That standard has changed over the last 2 decades. Car companies thought the same thing; you needed a bulky car to be safe. However, we now know it’s all about the engineering of products.

We would consider the hinge of a frame to be the most important aspect for a quality, lightweight fitting frame. If you have a hinge that is constantly wobbly or heavy, it makes the glasses lopsided and heavy on one ear, causing irritation. Hinges that are innovative in design will always prevent this type of thing from happening to give you lasting comfort.

Hinges

  • Screwless
    • A screwless hinge is what it is…a hinge without screws. In lieu of screws, a clever moving part design is used to mimic the opening and closing feature needed to store glasses away or put them on your face.
    • Brands that feature screwless hinges include: Lightec, Lindberg, Gotti, Silhouette, and Monoqool.

Lindberg frames with screwless hinges.

  • The thicker the frames, the heavier the feel.
    • Big thick hinges does not always mean more durable. Sometimes the more parts there are, the more there is to go wrong.
  • Springs
    • There are hundreds of different types of spring hinges available on glasses. This being said, the majority of spring hinges are cheaply made. The internal components of the spring matter just as much as the external metal you see that’s attached to the glasses.

 Screws

  • It may seem like screws are small and don’t add too much additional weight, but they do! A few extra grams of weight on the face can easily be felt.
  • Screws in hinges and other parts of the frame can take away from a lightweight wearing experience.

Heavy Design Features

  • Unnecessary large solders

Blue eyeglass frames with big solders.

  • Frame should be well-balanced on the face. If a frame front has too much weight towards the front of it (near the lenses) it can put pressure on the sensitive nose region making the frame feel heavier than it really is.
  • Fit on nose
    • A proper fit on the nose makes a frame feel really comfortable. If any part of the area around the nose pad is digging into the nose, it will create discomfort and a heavy feeling. The Nose bridges part of frames need to have very precise fitting. The smallest amount of extra width, or lack thereof, can create discomfort. If the bridge of a frame is too small and you were to add 0.5mm more material to it, this could make a major difference.

Temple length

  • Temples should not be too short or too long. Both of these scenarios make a frame seem uncomfortable, and cause them to slip down your face. A good optician knows how to modify the length of temples for the perfect fit. Never accept that a frame cannot be fitted well behind your ears!

Get Lightweight Designer Glasses at Brill Eye Center

At Brill Eye Center, our team can point you in the right direction with a pair of lightweight designer frames that are fit for your comfort and style. Ready to change up your eyewear experience? Give us a call at 913-432-7676 to schedule a consultation, and we’ll get you into a pair of lightweight frames in no time!