Why should I get a new frame? My old one is just fine!
We get asked this regularly in our practice and the answer is not straightforward, although we do endeavour to make it as simple as possible for our patients.
There are many factors that influence the suitability of a frame for taking another set of lenses, almost all of them directly relate to how long we expect the frame to last. While it is certainly possible for us to put new lenses in almost any frame that is brought to us there must be a reasonable lifespan expectation. That being said, there is always the possibility of false economy when reusing a frame as they may require replacement in the near future due to unforeseen failure or breakage.
One important thing to consider when looking at re-using an old frame is ongoing repairs and warranty. Of course an old frame has no warranty available and will often also prove difficult to find parts to fit. While we have the capability for fabrication of custom parts for some cases, this process is often expensive and outweighs the benefits of keeping the old frame. The safest way to assess these points is to bring them in to us and we will be more than happy to see if they can be reused.
What do we look for?
When assessing a frame we look first at the material and determine the build quality. For example, cheap injection moulded plastics will generally prove unsuitable for having new lenses inserted as their lifespan is very short. Conversely, top of the line hand made acetates will often see several successful lens insertions before we start to see the telltale wear and tear that render a frame beyond reasonable use.
Metal frames will often last well through several usage cycles and depending on the material may have repairs effected to extend their life considerably.
We will look at a frame under very high power magnification and search for cracks or any other indicators that the frame may fail in the near future. While we can’t predict the lifespan of a frame we have found that careful examination will give us a very good idea of whether a frame will survive the fitting process and have a reasonable lifespan.
More than just glasses.
There are exceptions though, sometimes spectacles carry so much of the personality and history of a person that they are worth almost any amount of effort to keep going.
One notable instance for us was the case of the gentleman who bought two pairs of spectacles in Paris after VE day in WWII, one to wear home and one to wear on his wedding day. After years of good wear he began to be told that they were no longer serviceable and so they were treasured but never again used. When this gentleman spoke to us about these glasses at his first eye test with us we asked him to bring them in, partly out of curiosity but also because we have had some experience in rebuilding frames. Happily we were able to rebuild both pairs with some custom parts and fit lenses to them, it was a memorable moment for us when he brought his wife in to collect them. He sat with us and told us stories from both during and after the war and became a weekly visitor to the practice for years, where he would pop in to chat on a Thursday morning. After he passed away his wife came to the practice with a small box containing one of the pairs of glasses, he wanted us to have a pair because we had given him a chance to wear them again just as he had when he got home from the war. That pair of spectacles sits above Grant’s desk where we get a regular reminder that the value of our work goes well beyond vision itself.