Frame materials – the options

After you have had your eyes tested, your optician or optometrist will give you a copy of your new prescription or, if you do not need any correction, a statement to this effect. He or she will also be able to explain any changes they have found between your old prescription and the new, and explain this to you. You will talk through your options with your optometrist and you will be helped to choose new spectacles if this is what you decide to do. You may wish to discuss the possibility of putting new lenses in your current frames (‘reglazing’).

Different types of spectacle frames 

Spectacle frame materials fall into 2 main types: metals and plastics.


Monel (blended alloy) is used to manufacture most of the metal frames available in the world today. In its best form this malleable material is strong and durable, and, though it does contain some nickel (many cheaper frames contain significant levels of nickel which can cause skin irritation), the plating found in the better quality frames give a superb barrier between the wearer and the base metal. Stainless steel – lightweight, strong, durable – is often used to create ultra-thin frames due to its excellent tensile strength and durability.

Titanium alloy frames, including memory metal frames, are ultra light, have superb memory shape retention and are extremely durable. These frames give a superb tensile strength and will perform and excel in extreme circumstances and can be ideal for near vision spectacles, which are taken on and off regularly.

Pure titanium frames are ultra light, nickel free, hypo-allergenic and have excellent tensile strength. The material is used to create the perfect equilibrium between strength and comfort.


Cellulose acetate and proprinate are the most widely used plastics to create spectacle frames. These materials are available in an almost infinite range of colours, from layered colour combinations (laminates) to the solid colours. The material is also perfect for cutting and shaping to create intricate shapes and creative styling.

Optyl is an extremely light and durable, high quality plastic. Optyl is available in a vast array of both solid and translucent colours. Optyl resists perspiration as well as retaining its shape extremely well. SPX, a plastic made famous by the prestigious frame manufacturer Silhouette, is currently the lightest plastic used for spectacle frames. SPX is extremely strong, hypo-allergenic and – due to its high resistance to perspiration absorption – retains its colour and lustre particularly well.

For help and advice on choosing frames please call us on freephone 0800 854477