Parts of Eyeglasses: Your Vision Vocab Lesson
October 13, 2023 • 12:56 PM
If there’s one lesson we’ve learned over and over again, it’s that there’s a word for everything. That space between your eyebrows? It’s the glabella. Those little plastic bits at the ends of shoelaces? They’re aglets. The dot over the letter “i”? It’s a tittle.
And if there are words for all those things, you best believe there are words for every part of your glasses. You could pick up a pair of eyeglasses and point to any part at random, and we could tell you what it’s called. After reading this, you’ll be able to do the same. (Think of it as your new party trick!)
From temple to bridge, we’ll look at all the parts of eyeglasses and explain how each one affects the look and feel of your eyewear. You’ll not only learn some fun new vocab, you’ll also find out what to look for the next time you shop for a new pair of glasses.
Parts of Eyeglasses
Just like when they break it down in your favorite song, we’re about to break down your eyeglasses parts. We’ll start with the frames (because there are a lot of different parts of the frame) and then we’ll move on to lenses. All this talk of eyeglasses sounds like sweet music to us.
An eyeglass frame is every part of the glasses that aren’t the lenses — so everything except the clear part that you look through.
When you go shopping for new glasses, you’ll try on (or virtually try on) a variety of glasses frames and pick your favorite. Then the manufacturer of the glasses will create the lenses you need (based on your prescription from your eye doctor) and fit them into your chosen frames.
There are several different types of frames to choose from, including metal frames, plastic frames, and lightweight acetate frames.
Essentially, your frames serve as the skeleton of your glasses. And much like how within a skeleton there are names for all the different bones, there are also names for all the little parts of your frames. These include the rims, nose bridge, nose pads, end pieces, hinges, screws, temples, and temple tips.
The rim is the part of the frame that wraps around your lenses and holds them in place. The shape of the rim will determine the shape of your glasses — like cat-eye glasses or rectangular glasses. And it will affect how flatteringly the glasses fit with your face shape.
People with round faces look good in rectangular frames, people with square faces look good in round glasses, and we could go on. But if you want more help finding the best glasses for your face shape, you’re better off consulting our guides to glasses for round, oval, square, heart-shaped, diamond, triangle, or oblong faces.
The most common type of glasses are full-rim glasses, which is when the plastic or metal part of the frame wraps all the way around your lenses. These are also the most practical option because a full-rim makes the glasses sturdier and helps protect your lenses.
However, you can also find half-rim frames, which is when the frame only wraps around the top half of your lenses, or rimless frames, which is when the frame doesn’t wrap around your lenses at all. Instead, rimless frames connect to your lenses only in the top corners and at the nose bridge.
The nose bridge is where the frame of the glasses arches over the top of your nose. Most glasses just have one part of the frame going across your nose, but on some vintage-style glasses, there may be two separate pieces that cross your nose.
In this case, the piece that sits closer to the top of your nose is the nose bridge. The second piece that sits above the nose bridge (and is primarily for decorative purposes) is called the top bar.
People with low nose bridges (where the bridge of your nose starts at or below your pupils) or people with high cheekbones may need low-bridge glasses frames for a more comfortable fit. The nose bridge should hover above your nose, not rest against it. The only part of your glasses that should touch your nose are the nose pads.
The nose pads are on the inside edge of your glasses frames, below the nose bridge. In plastic and acetate frames, the nose pads are molded into the rim of the frames. But in metal frames, the nose pads are attached to the rim with another small metal piece that’s called a pad arm.
Many people find the molded nose pads of acetate and plastic frames to be more comfortable than the separate nose pads of metal frames. Molded acetate nose pads are also less likely to break off since they’re integrated into the frame.
Nose pads should sit comfortably along the sides of your nose. They shouldn’t feel tight. Tight nose pads could pinch and leave skin irritation on your nose.
However, they also shouldn’t be too loose. If they are, they could press into the more sensitive skin near the inside corners of your eyes or the tops of your cheeks. Too-loose nose pads can also cause the nose bridge to sit across the top of your nose, leading to a deep red indentation.
Let’s move from the inside edges of your frames to the outside edges. The end pieces are the little pieces of metal or plastic that stick out from the top corners of the frame's front.
These are there to create a place where the front of your frames can attach to the hinges, which attach to the temples — kind of like how the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone and the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone. Doin’ the skeleton dance!
End pieces won’t affect the comfort of your glasses, but they’re a great opportunity to add a little style or, in the case of cat-eye glasses, a lot of style.
The hinges are the part that makes it so you can fold up the temples, or arms, of your glasses. You’ll find them along the back side of the frame where the frame front meets the temples. They allow you to store your glasses flat in their glasses case when you’re not wearing them.
There are several types of hinges with the most common being barrel hinges and spring hinges. Barrel hinges involve three pieces of metal (or barrels) attached with a screw. An optician can adjust them for you by adjusting each barrel with a set of pliers.
Spring hinges are more durable and more adjustable than barrel hinges. They include a spring that allows the temples of your glasses to bend past 90 degrees without breaking. They’re also more adjustable than barrel hinges, so your optician can get an even better fit.
At the top of the hinges is a tiny screw that keeps the temples of your frame attached to the frame front. The screw is one of the most vulnerable parts of your glasses frame. It can come loose and fall out, but if this happens to you, don’t give up on your glasses!
This problem is easy to repair, and most glasses repair kits include a selection of screws and a tiny screwdriver.
We’ve already mentioned that the temples are like the arms of your eyeglasses. They’re the long skinny pieces that come out from the side of the frames. The temples run along the side of your head and rest on the top of your ears to keep your glasses on your face.
If your glasses are too wide, the temples may feel loose and squish the top of your ears (because they sit too far away from your head). But if your glasses are too narrow, the temples will squeeze your head and could cause skin irritation or give you a headache.
So if the temples of your glasses are making you uncomfortable, it’s probably not their fault. It’s all about the size of your glasses, which is why it’s important that you have the right glasses measurements to fit your face.
At the very end of the temples are the temple tips. The temple tips curve downward toward your neck to help secure the glasses on your head. They also often get wider to make them more comfortable on the side of your head. (No one wants a thin, poky thing stabbing them in the side of the head all day.)
On metal-frame glasses, the temple tips may be made out of a different material like rubber or plastic to make them more comfortable. On plastic and acetate frames, they’re simply molded into the shape of the frame.
And finally, we come to the only part of eyeglasses that aren’t part of the frame. The lenses are the clear part that you look through — the part that actually helps you see.
Prescription lenses are curved in different directions and to different degrees in order to adjust your eyesight for better near or far vision, depending on the prescription from your optometrist.
You can get prescription lenses for single-vision correction (either near or far) or multi-vision correction (both near and far). Multivision lenses are for people with myopia or astigmatism, and they come in bifocal or progressive lenses.
Bifocal lenses are made from two lenses glued together in the middle, which causes a line in the middle of your vision. Progressive lenses are made from a single lens so there’s no visible line. Reading glasses can also provide single-vision correction — for seeing objects up close — and they’re available without a prescription.
While eyeglass lenses were traditionally made out of glass, modern eyeglasses typically use polycarbonate lenses to make them more durable, lighter weight, and shatter-resistant. The only downside to polycarbonate lenses is that they scratch more easily than glass, so make sure to get lenses with a scratch-resistant coating.
There are also other options to upgrade your lenses. Blue light lenses can make your eyes more comfortable by blocking out excessive blue light as you work on the computer. And transition lenses can adjust their tint based on the lighting. So if you move from indoors to out, transition lenses will automatically take on a darker tint.
Essentially, your frames bring all the style to your glasses, and your lenses bring the magic.
Express Every Part of Yourself
Okay, now that you’ve learned all your vocab, it’s time for a pop quiz! Of all the parts of eyeglasses, which one is the most important?
The most important part is how they make you feel. If you’re a glasses wearer, you’ll see yourself in your glasses more often than out of them. They help you see. They help you navigate the world around you. They’re an extension of who you are.
So every time you put on your glasses, you should feel like your truest self. At Pair Eyewear, we make glasses that help you express yourself. You can find frames that flatter your face shape and then style them with different snap-on Top Frames in your favorite colors, prints, or styles.
Change up your Top Frame based on your outfit, mood, or occasion, or throw on a Sun Top to instantly transform your glasses into prescription sunglasses without having to take them off.
Your glasses will not only help you see the world — they’ll help the world see you. Find your perfect Pair today.