Does eyewear lingo leave you seeing question marks? If so, we can understand why! From the various styles, fashionable features and frame materials, to the different lens options and parts of a pair of glasses, there are (literally) tons of mind-boggling eyewear terms out there. But we’re here to help you brush up on your eyewear knowledge, with this comprehensive list of terms and definitions!
Aviator: Envision the glasses that old-school pilots used to wear, and you’ve got yourself a pair of aviators! They come in all kinds of materials and usually feature large, teardrop-shaped lenses. However, modernized versions of this traditional style have become quite popular!
Butterfly: This style features frames that splay out to resemble butterfly wings.
Cat-Eye: This highly fashionable style stems from the retro era, typically showcasing an upswept almond-shaped silhouette with high temples that are sometimes accented with fun embellishments!
Clubmaster-Inspired: This vintage style was originally created by popular brand Ray-Ban, and features an exaggerated plastic brow bar and temples, with metal-rimmed bottom frames.
Over-Prescription Sunwear: These sunglasses are designed to be worn over existing prescription glasses, and come in various styles and colors with different lens technologies.
Flat-Top: This style features a completely flat brow bar.
Pillowed Rectangle: This style boasts a rectangular frame shape that is slightly puffed or curved along the edges.
Reading Glasses: Like their name, readers are glasses that are mainly used to help people read. They feature magnifying lenses, so it’s easy for people to see up close. Since readers can be purchased over-the-counter in professional and retail settings, some consumers use them as a “Band-Aid,” instead of getting an eye exam-that’s a big no, no! Don’t forget to stress to your readers or viewers the importance of visiting an eye care professional to receive a true assessment of visual health and sight needs.
Rectangle: This style showcases a classic rectangular frame shape.
Rimless: This style features lenses that appear to not have frames. In reality, the lenses are held together by an invisible nylon cord, notches or mounting screws to provide a rimless optical illusion.
Rounds: Like its name, this style features a perfectly round silhouette and typically exudes a retro vibe.
Semi-Rimless: This style features traditional frames on the top half of the lenses, while the bottom half of the lenses appear to have no frames (in reality, they’re held together with invisible nylon or other technologies), or vice versa.
Shields: These frames (usually sunglasses) were originally designed to fit over prescription glasses. However, they have become a fashion staple, featuring lenses that are cut into one piece or appear solid across the bridge, covering more space on the face.
Squares: Like its name, this style features a square silhouette that can be rounded or angular.
Wayfarer: This versatile style was originally created by popular brand Ray-Ban, and features a chunkier square silhouette with thick temples-a design that’ll travel anywhere.
Wraparounds: These sunglasses curve around the head, from the front to the side, providing extra protection from sunlight since the lenses hug close to the face and shield the delicate skin around the eyes.
Fashionable Frame Features
Color Blocking: This color treatment allows for two or more hues to be incorporated within a pair of frames. The pigments are typically separated into different parts of the frames for a “blocked” or contrasting effect.
Drop Temples: When a frame’s temples are attached to the bottom of the lens area, rather than the top, and boast a curved or slightly upswept profile, they’re called drop temples.
Embellished: Crystals, gems, metal studs and other materials are oftentimes used to embellish frame fronts and temples.
Glossy: This finish is typically applied to plastic frames to give them a glistening appearance.
Keyhole Bridge: Like its name, this type of bridge resembles the shape of a keyhole. It fits only the sides of the nose, without touching the top.
Laminate Treatment: This plastic frame treatment layers two or more colors on top of one another.
Matte: This finish is typically applied to plastic frames to give them a lusterless appearance.
Metallic: This finish is typically applied to plastic frames to give them a shimmery appearance, similar to that of metal.
Printed/Patterned: Various prints or patterns, in all kinds of colors, are typically applied to frame fronts and temples for stylish edge, dimension and extra oomph.
Saddle Bridge: Like its name, this type of bridge resembles the shape of a horse’s saddle. It spreads and curves over the top and sides of the nose.
Translucent: Frames are oftentimes crafted out of transparent acetate, in both clear and colorful hues, for a crystalized effect.
Two-Toned/Ombré Colorations: This color treatment blends two colors together for a gradient appearance.
Lenses for Digital Device Usage: These lenses feature anti-reflective and blue light-filtering capabilities – and often a slight magnification – to help reduce the symptoms of digital eye strain. These specialized lenses can be incorporated into virtually any pair of frames, with or without a prescription.
Flash or Mirrored Lenses: Highly reflective cosmetic coatings are applied to these lenses to give them a flashy mirrored appearance. While they are used for fashion purposes, to give off a shimmery and colorful look, they are also used for performance purposes, to reflect light and keep the eyes cool and comfortable, making them especially great for those who wear contact lenses.
Floating Lenses: These lenses are mounted to give the illusion that they’re floating in the frame.
Gradient Lenses: The tint of these lenses gradually fades-usually from the top down-from a dark to a light color, giving way to a gradient effect.
Glass Lenses: These lenses are made of the heaviest material that is more scratch resistant than conventional plastic. They’re tempered especially for impact resistance, but they aren’t un-breakable or shatterproof.
Hard Resin/Conventional Plastic Lenses: These lenses are made of conventional plastic, making them more impact resistant and about half the weight of glass lenses.
High-Index Lenses: These lenses have a high level of refraction, meaning light travels through them to reach the eyes faster than traditional glass or plastic lenses. They tend to be thinner and lighter, since vision correction occurs with less lens material. They also come in various indexes, and the higher the index, the thinner the lenses appear.
MultiVision/Focal Lenses: These lenses provide vision with more than one field of view.
Photochromic Lenses: These lenses are able to change color or darkness/density, depending on the degree of exposure to light.
Plano Lenses: These are lenses that don’t include a prescription or corrective technology.
Polarized Lenses: These lenses block light reflected from horizontal surfaces, such as water, to reduce glare. They are available in traditional colors of gray, black and brown. However, they are also seen in more fashionable colors, like orange, blue, purple and yellow.
Polycarbonate Lenses: These lenses are made of a plastic that is very impact resistant and durable. Children under the age of 18 should wear glasses with these lenses because of their highly active lifestyles. Glasses with these lenses are also beneficial for adults at work or during recreational activities where safety is a major concern.
Progressive Lenses: These multifocal lenses feature corrective powers that change progressively throughout. Each area of correction is blended invisibly into the next, so the lenses don’t have the lines typically associated with bifocals or trifocals. They allow for the most “natural” vision for all distances: near, far and everything in between.
Sun-Clip Lenses: Like their name, these sun lenses clip on, either magnetically or by hooks, to regular glasses. They provide easy-to-use sun protection, are available in various materials, and can oftentimes be customized to meet specific performance and protection needs.
Single Vision Lenses: These lenses provide vision correction using only one focal point, and they can be used to correct either hyperopia or myopia.
Trifocal Lenses: These multifocal lenses have lines that provide three fields of vision: near vision, distance vision and intermediate vision.
Variable Tint Lenses: These tinted lenses adjust to the amount of UV light present. They can either transition from darker to lighter or change color from pink to blue.
Anti-Reflective Coating: This lens treatment, which is typically used on eyeglasses, is designed to block reflected light, reducing glare, reflections and halos, and is especially good for night driving. However, it can also be applied to the backside of quality sunglasses to reduce reflections that enter from the sides and back.
Scratch-Resistant Coating: This lens treatment increases the durability of lenses by reducing the potential of scratches that stem from normal usage.
UV-Protective Coating: This lens treatment protects the eyes from harmful UV rays.
Acetate/Zyl: These are different versions of a plastic frame material.
Titanium: This metal alloy is very strong, yet lightweight, and is oftentimes hypoallergenic.
Wood or Faux Wood: True wood is often used for sustainability purposes to create frames. Sometimes, faux wood finishes are applied to frames for fashionable purposes.
Anatomy of a Frame
Adjustable Nosepads: Inserted within the bridge area, these help distribute the weight of a pair of frames for a more comfortable fit. Some adjustable nosepads are made of a silicone-type material that further prevents slippage.
Bridge: This is the part of the eyeglasses that extends across the nose.
Brow Bar: A bar-shaped piece, in various materials, which spans across the wearer’s brow line. Brow bars are either used for fashionable purposes, to add emphasis to the top of the frames, or for practical purposes, to keep the frames away from a person or athlete’s brow to avoid built-up moisture and fogginess.
Spring Hinges: These eyeglass hinges flex, making the frames themselves more durable. They also help keep frames in proper alignment and reduce the need for frequent adjustments. Some versions are very flexible and can be customized to fit the contours of the nose.
Temples: These are the “arms” or “wings” of a pair of glasses that run from behind the ear to the lens area.
Three-Piece Mount: This rimless style features mounting pieces that attach to each lens, as well as another bridge piece that attaches the lenses together, creating a virtually “frameless” look.
Uni-Fit Bridge: This plastic or silicone insert is affixed on metal frames to replace adjustable pad arms, creating a one-piece bridge construction similar to that on acetate frames.