What makes a good spectacle frame?

DSC_0291Many times when choosing a frame we get asked why one is more expensive than another. It’s a valid question and while there are brands that just inherently cost more, at Hannaford Eyewear we choose frames that have a direct link between quality and price. By doing this we ensure that you are getting the value for money that you deserve. It’s all too easy to be fooled by frames that look good but are cheap in every sense of the word!

Choosing your frame wisely means that you will have a reliable pair of spectacles that won’t let you down when you need them.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but when choosing a frame here are some things to look out for.


Not all materials are the same, indeed there is such a wide range of quality in plastics that it can be a baffling ordeal without good guidance.

Plastic frames can range from low quality injection moulded materials that retail for less than $50 (but break very easily) to hand made Italian acetates that take weeks to craft and may last up to a decade. Country of origin is not necessarily an indicator either. There is one classic example of a frame company who elected to get their frames manufactured in China. This particular company had a strong connection with Chinese culture so it made good sense to carry on that theme, they did however set strict guidelines on quality control including asking that every frame be inspected rather than small selections from a batch. All of the extra requirements shot the price of the frame up until it cost almost exactly the same as if they had made it in Europe. The lesson we took from this was to look at the quality of the product rather than the price, country of manufacture or the name. After all, the brand name will not be so important if it falls apart while you are wearing it.

Metal frames are subject to the same range of quality so be wary of frame deals that look to good to be true, they probably are! More than once we have had patients bring their ‘2 for 1’ frames in for repair and the metal has been such low quality that it cannot even be soldered, it simply evaporated in the flame. In these cases the patient has learned the hard way the old adage ‘the bitterness of low quality remains long after the sweetness of low price has faded’.

Importantly, consider whether or not you have any allergies, this will influence your choices. If you aren’t sure then try to remember if you have ever reacted to cheap jewellery or gotten a green stain from a watch. If the answer is yes then you most likely have an allergy (probably nickel). This can be addressed with the frame material, giving you a more comfortable wearing experience.


Consider the design of your frame in the context of your final usage. All too often we let fashion drive our decision and this leads to poor fitting frames that aren’t really up to the task at hand. Examples of this are frames that are too small to accomodate a reasonable amount of reading area, or frames with poor fitting bridges that are nearly impossible to set securely on your face. While we may desperately want that retro acetate frame, if it doesn’t sit on our face properly then we are setting ourselves up for a frustrating experience. Indeed, this can result in the lenses themselves failing to perform properly, so the whole pair of glasses become a burden rather than a help.


The amount of time and care that goes into a frame will directly influence its longevity and wearability. The low end of the market is bulk produced with a few pairs taken out of every batch to check for quality. We have seen frames from companies that were, admittedly, quite inexpensive but we had to spend a great deal of time adjusting and fixing them just so they were saleable. Long ago we decided that if a frame needed to be fixed straight out of the box then it shouldn’t be sold, this is one of our core factors when choosing a frame supplier, which leads us to our final point to consider.


It’s not just us at the practice that are involved in your care, it’s the companies that made your frame as well. We choose a select group of frame suppliers who not only provide the highest quality products, but insist that they are involved in caring for you throughout the warranty period and beyond. We have had reps hand deliver parts and repairs to us at the practice simply because they take care of you, the patient, so seriously.

At the end of the day we need to ensure that you are getting a pair of spectacles that you don’t have to think about, they should just do their job and let you get on with your day. The best people to do that are appropriately qualified professionals, optical dispensers and optometrists have been trained to sort through the multiple of frames to find the right one. That’s why we are here for you to guide you through the ‘great wall of glasses’!