Technical Steps to Frame Fitting
When selecting a frame, how do you ensure the frame fits properly? Do you use a technical guideline or rely on customer feedback? As the eyewear industry expands the boundaries of frame design, eyecare professionals need to adapt the characteristics of the frame fitting process to the changing climate of frame shapes and styles.
The technical steps to frame fitting is a guideline that will allow each user the ability to quickly identify a proper fit, while incorporating the needed fashion and function benefits a customer requires.
A technical fit will rely on five components:
1) Face shape;
2) Frame width;
3) Bridge style and size;
4) Temple length; and
Each of these components plays a vital role in helping choose the right frame for your customer.
The Five Components to a Technical Frame Fit:
1). Face Shape - Everyone has different face shapes, sizes, and features and this is why frame manufacturers produce many different types and styles of frames. The trick is to find a frame that uses the customer's features to benefit their fashion needs and overall appearance. Choosing a frame based on face shape is a subjective process because what may be considered appropriate based on facial shape may not be the look or style the customer wants to wear. Below is a chart that will help identify which style of frame should be considered when looking at the shape of the customer's face:
Oval face - Normal shape - Most shapes will be suitable
Oblong face - Long shape - Deep frame, preferably with a low temple
Round face - Wide shape - Relatively narrow frame, preferably with a high temple
Square face - Wide shape - Same criteria as a round face
Triangular face - Erect triangle shape - Width of frame should equal lower widest part of facial area
Diamond face - Inverted triangle shape - Lighter looking frame (metal or rimless)
2). Frame Width - A technical detail that matches the width of the frame to the customer's face. The frame front should be wide enough to allow for a generally straight path from the end of the frame to the ear. Frames that are too wide or too narrow can cause the customer discomfort, and can affect the structure of the frame, not allowing the frame to stay in adjustment. A simple way to determine if a frame is too wide, too narrow, or just right, is the position of the eye in the frame.
To Wide: If a frame is too wide for a person's face, the customer's eye position will be near the bridge of the frame. When this occurs, the customer will appear cross-eyed and there will be a significant amount of lens material towards the temple side of the frame. While this type of fit could work in products that are designed to provide an oversized appearance (i.e. sunwear), it is not recommended for clear lens designs.
To Narrow: If a frame is too narrow for a person's face, you will have two key indicators: the eye position will be towards the temple side of the lens, and the temples will be touching the side of the face well before the ear, producing a "squeezed" look on the face. When this occurs, it is best to identify the eye size of the frame and avoid other frames that are below that eye size.
Just Right: If the frame width is correct, the eye will be positioned in the center of the lens and will produce a direct path for the temple from the frame front to the ear. If the position of the eye is not exactly centered, you should have the eyes positioned slightly inward towards the bridge instead of outward towards the temple. In cases where a customer has a narrow pupillary distance (PD), look at the position of the eyes in the lens first and determine if an adjustment to the temples can reduce or relieve any squeezing appearance that may be present.
3). Bridge Size and Style - Once you have determined a good width for the customer's face, you now need to be concerned with the bridge style and size. This section is critical because the bridge supports 90% of the frame and lens weight. So a good bridge fit will help produce an overall comfortable fit.
The primary factor that determines a good bridge fit from a bad bridge fit is the amount of surface resting flush upon the nose. The more bridge surface resting on the nose, the more weight is distributed equally, the more comfortable the frame will feel. Conversely, if there is less distribution of weight on the nose, or the bridge sits on a lesser area, then the frame will feel uncomfortable and will create pain and irritation for the customer. While there are techniques and tricks that can alter and improve the fit of a bridge, there is no substitute for selecting a bridge that initially provides a good fit.
4). Temple Length - Now that we have a good understanding about how the frames rest upon our face, we need to start understanding how the frames hold themselves in place. The bridge may support 90% of the frames weight, but the temples will most likely require about 90% of the frames adjustments. Just like the bridge, temples that fit well are paramount when discussing the overall comfort and fit of a frame. A well-chosen bridge will often fit a patient's nose with little or no adjustment, while a pair of temples will always require some type of custom adjustment to fit each customer individually.
Like the correct bridge fit, a correct temple fit relies on placing the maximum amount of temple surface over the greatest area. When you fit a frame, the temple weight should feel evenly displaced between the back of the ear and the front of the frame. When a frame becomes uncomfortable, generally it is caused by a concentration of all the holding power the temple has on a limited area.
Another key indicator of proper temple length is identifying where the bend of the temple takes place. A proper temple bend will begin immediately after the top base of the ear (this is where the ear and skull connect) and will contour to the skull.
If a temple length is too short, you will notice the bend of the temple begin prior to the base of the ear, placing maximum pressure on the backside of the ear. When a temple appears to be too short for the customer, it will always be best to select a different temple length (if available) or select a different frame altogether. Trying an adjustment to a temple that is too short will be time consuming and ultimately will leave the customer with an uncomfortable fit.
If a temple length is too long, you will notice the bend of the temple begin after the base of the ear, thus making the frame appear unstable and loose. When a temple is considered to be too long for the wearer, an adjustment may be performed to properly fit the temple to the wearer's skull. If you had to choose between a temple being too long or too short, it would always be best to have more frame material to work with than less.
5). Lifestyle - In determining what type, style, and shape frame a customer should be fit into, you should ask the customer how they intend to use their new frames. This information will allow you to direct the customer to select the appropriate frame type that allows them to use their product in a fashion that does not cause the product or potentially the customer, harm. This can be achieved by asking questions to learn more about the customer and their hobbies, interests, and work. Again, we do not want to fit and ultimately sell a product that cannot meet the demands and abuse each individual might place on their product. The more information you can receive from the customer about their intended use of the product, the better equipped you can be to help select a frame that is right for them.
Other Items to Consider when Frame Fitting:
While the five tips above will help you produce the best frame fit for your customer, there are other options to consider when completing the fitting process: a customer's prescription strength, lens types (progressive addition lenses, bifocals, single vision, etc.), lens materials, and facial measurements (segment heights, pupillary distances, etc.). Failing to consider these options when fitting a customer will produce a product that will not meet the performance needs to achieve visual satisfaction and the fashion demands of the customer.
By understanding and implementing these five technical fitting tips you will be able to help your customer's choose a frame that fits properly, and handles the demands of their lifestyle.