The Parts of Glasses

Get to know the names of all the parts of your eyeglasses

The anatomy of your glasses. Desiree Koh

Most people who wear them don't usually need to know the parts of glasses by name. But if you're ordering a new pair or have problems with your current eyeglasses, knowing the temples from the nose pads will be helpful. And it's not a bad idea to know the function of each separate part of your glasses in case they break and you need replacement parts. 

Lenses and Frame Front

First, there are the lenses, the pieces of glass or plastic that are ground to the specifications of the wearer's prescription.

After the lenses, the frame front is the main thing most people consider when choosing a pair of eyeglasses. While knowing the general frame dimensions that fit best is useful, keep in mind that fittings can vary from brand to brand.

The style and size of the frames you select will vary depending on the strength of your prescription or the shape of your face. Try on as many different frames as you can (in front of a mirror) while you're at the optometrist's office, to make sure you're getting the ones that suit you best. And don't be afraid to ask for recommendations; most optometrists' offices have technicians who can answer any questions you have.

Here are the other parts of glasses and their functions, for when you need to pick out new frames or get your current ones fixed. 

Lens Rims Hold Lenses in Place

Lens rims are where your lenses are fitted into the frame. If you're getting customized lenses, the optical lab edges the lenses to your specific prescription, and tints them to your specifications (when needed) before mounting them.

Depending on your prescription, your optician might suggest using one frame material over another. For example, plastic frames hold prescriptions requiring thicker lenses better than a thin metal material. For rimless or half-rimless frames, a wire is used to hold the lenses in place.

Bridge Supports Glasses' Weight

The area between the lenses that goes over the nose, called the bridge, supports 90 percent of the weight of your glasses and determines the fit of your frames.

There are a few varieties—the keyhole for smaller and flatter noses, the saddle for heavier glasses, and the traditional double with a second bar on top.

Nose Pads Keep Glasses Comfortable

Nose pads may be the smallest visible parts of eyeglasses, but they ensure a comfortable fit while holding the glasses in place. All nose pads can be adjusted (unless they are molded into the frame, typically on acetate frames). Silicone nose pads are more durable and comfortable, and prevent the glasses from slipping out of place.

Temples, Earpieces and Hinges

Also called the "arms" of a pair of eyeglasses, temples are the stems that extend from the sides of the frame to the ears (they're named for the part of your face they rest closest to). Plastic or silicone coatings called earpieces cover the ends of the temples, to ensure comfort and relieve the pressure of temples on the top of your ears. More importantly, the earpieces help to hold the glasses in place and keep them from falling off.

And finally, hinges connect the frame front to the temples. Traditionally made glasses feature a regular hinge, while more technically advanced ones use spring-loaded hinges that spread the temples based on the width of the face.

Knowing the parts of glasses will come in handy the next time you're choosing a new pair, and let you make a more informed decision about what kind to select.