How Should Glasses Fit? Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Pair
July 11, 2023 • 8:02 AM
When you put on a pair of glasses, it should fit like a vintage tee — perfectly comfortable and effortlessly cool. And yes, glasses are cool, as long as they fit properly.
But, one poorly fitted pair, and you’ll be pushing your spectacles up your nose and feeling like all those nerds-with-glasses stereotypes are too real.
But we’ve got good news: Nerds run today’s world and glasses are the cutest fashion accessory in our closet. They can be the cutest accessory in your closet, too, once you understand how glasses should fit.
Finding that perfect fit is the first step toward finding eyeglasses you feel good in (and avoiding your personal nerd-with-glasses nightmare). And with our guide, you’ll be able to recognize a proper fit — even if you order glasses online.
So, how should glasses fit? Here’s what to look for in your perfect pair.
How Should Glasses Fit Your Face?
If your inner stylist is asking, “How should glasses fit my face?,” then get ready! You’re about to learn how to recognize a perfect fit.
We’re going to play a little game of head, shoulders, knees, and toes — except this time, it’s eyes, ears, brows, and nose. This is how a well-fitted pair of glasses will look on each part of your face. Once you find a pair that ticks all these boxes, you will look so good in your glasses.
Let’s start with the big picture: How the glasses fit your whole face. If you’re wearing the right frames, then the frame width should be about the same as the width of your face, plus the width of your two index fingers.
When you’re trying on new glasses, you can tell if the fit is correct, by sliding your index fingers under the temple arms of the glasses on either side of your face. (So, your left index finger is pressed against the left side of your face at the same height as your eye, and your right index finger is pressed against the right side of your face at the same height as your eye.)
You should be able to comfortably fit your index fingers between your face and your glasses frames without stretching the temple arms, but there also shouldn’t be extra room between your fingers and the temple arms.
If your frame size is too wide for your face, your glasses will make your head look small and continuously slide off as you wear them. If your frame size is too narrow for your face, the frames will make your head look big, and the temple arms will press into the side of your head, pinching your skin and making you uncomfortable.
Find your fit: Frame width is one of the easiest glasses measurements to get right — all you need is a soft measuring tape and a friend (because everything is more fun with friends!).
Hold your index fingers up against both sides of your face and have your friend measure the distance in millimeters from the outside of one index finger to the outside of the other. Use this measurement as your guide when you shop and don’t choose frames that are more than a couple of millimeters different in either direction.
When it comes to finding the right glasses, your eyes are the star of the show. Your pupils should be centered directly in the middle of your lenses — partially because it looks better, yes, but mostly because it’s important to your vision health and eye care.
If your eyes aren’t centered in your prescription glasses’ lenses, you won’t be getting the precise vision correction you need, which can lead to eye strain — and all of the unpleasant side effects that come with it, like dry eyes, blurry vision, and headaches. (Ugh.) This effect can be even worse with progressive lenses than with single-vision lenses.
To avoid this unpleasantness, you need to make sure your eyes are centered in the middle of the lens width (the widest point of the lens when you measure from side to side).
Find your fit: Choosing the right frame width (with our instructions above) is the first step toward getting the right lens width. For the next step, we’re also going to enlist the help of your eye doctor.
During your eye exam, your optometrist will measure your pupillary distance, or the distance between your pupils. Make sure you have this measurement in hand when you order your eyewear.
When your glasses are made, this measurement helps opticians center your eyes in the middle of your lenses. If you’ve already had an eye exam, and your eye doctor didn’t take your pupillary distance, you can also measure it yourself at home.
If you’re an expert at pulling faces, then you won’t want your glasses to hide your expressive nature. The ideal eyeglass frames will leave your eyebrows visible over the top of the glasses so your nearest and dearest can see when you raise an eyebrow (and can give you so many compliments when you’ve just had your eyebrows done).
Find your fit: To ensure the top of your frames won’t cover your brows, you can look at the lens height. You’ll need that measuring tape again, and you might want to call that friend back into the room. (You can do this yourself, but it might make you feel a little cross-eyed.)
Look straight ahead into a mirror (or at your friend). Then, measure the distance from your pupil to the bottom of your eyebrow in millimeters. Multiply that number by two, and that’s about how tall you want your lens height to be.
Although, you may want to subtract a couple of millimeters if you’re buying glasses with a thicker frame (because the lens height measurement doesn’t include the couple of millimeters that the frame will add to the top and bottom of the lens). And you may be able to add a couple of millimeters if you’re buying glasses with a high bridge because the top of the glasses won’t come as close to your browline thanks to the bridge fit.
The bridge of your glasses goes across the bridge of your nose, connecting one lens to another. And it can have a major impact on your comfort.
If the fit of your glasses is correct, then the bridge of your glasses should never actually touch your nose. Just the nose pads, built into the frames, should rest against your nose (and even those should rest gently with no pinching). The bridge should hover gracefully above your nose like a ballet dancer in mid-leap.
If the bridge size is too wide, it will cause the bridge to sit on your nose, leaving an indent, red marks, or other skin irritation on your nose from the glasses. But if the bridge size is too narrow, the nose pads will press into your skin, again leaving red marks or skin irritation — this time on the side of your nose.
And since big red marks on your nose isn’t a good look for any glasses wearer, you need to look at bridge width before you buy a pair of glasses.
Find your fit: To find your ideal bridge width, you want to measure straight across the bridge of your nose from one side to the other. But, here’s the tricky part, you shouldn’t curve your measuring tape around your nose as you do it. Measure across in a straight line. You might want to pinch your fingers on either side of your nose, even with the corner of your eyes. You can use your fingers as a guide to keep your measuring tape straight. Measure the distance between your fingers in millimeters.
If you have a low nose bridge, high cheekbones, or a wide face, you can look for glasses with a low bridge fit. This will give you more room under and around your glasses so they don’t end up resting on your cheeks and leaving indents.
Your ears are the unsung heroes of your eyecare journey. They sit there on the side of your head quietly holding up your glasses (and sometimes holding your hair out of your face at the same time). They are givers. And for their dedicated service, they deserve a little consideration in your shopping process.
To keep your ears comfortable, you need to consider the temple arm length of your glasses. The temple length tells you how far past your ears your glasses will reach. If they don’t reach far enough past your ears, they could easily slide off. Too far past your ears, and they’ll poke out of every hairstyle you try out.
Temple length is the measurement of the arm of your glasses, starting from the hinge where it meets the frame. This is one of the most flexible measurements on this list — you can find comfortable glasses within a wide range of temple lengths. But it can also be hard to measure for it if you don’t wear glasses already.
Find your fit: Grab a pair of glasses. They don’t have to be a fancy pair — they can be that novelty pair of sunglasses you got as a free giveaway if that’s what you have available.
Now measure from the hinge on the frame to the end of the temple arm in millimeters. Then put the glasses on your head and think about how they feel. Do you wish they were longer or shorter or are they about right? Record this and keep it in mind as you shop for your new glasses.
Glasses That Fit the Bill
When you’re looking for the most flattering glasses for your face, fit is only half the journey. Now that you know how glasses should fit, you’re ready to get to the fun stuff — like finding your favorite frame styles and colors.
As you shop for new glasses, you’ll need to consider the big questions: Which frame styles work best with your face shape? How do you know if cat-eye glasses are sassy enough for you? The important stuff.
We’re here to help you find your perfect pair with guides to the best glasses for round, oval, square, diamond, and heart-shaped faces. You can use the virtual try-on feature at Pair Eyewear to see how different styles look with your own two eyes.