Frame fit // Nose pads

When helping customers select a new frame it seems that there are only ever two types of people – those who want notepads, and those who definitely don’t! These days with the amount of metal frames being made  – and made well! – it’s time we had a little talk about how to wear them.

So why is this particular part of the frame such a love/hate topic for wearers? Personally I can wear either, but there are a lot of contributing factors as to why this could be be, and why others may have a specific aversion to wearing them.

First, lets get into the details about notepads, and bridge fit (Across the wearers nose).

Most nose pads are made from either PVC or a type of silicone that either clip in or are screwed into the metal of the nose pad arm. Alternatively, I occasionally come across metal, titanium and rubber mix’s on some brands. Usually there are two nose pads, one for each side of the bridge of the nose that are available in a few sizes to fit the wearer.

The second type of fit is a lot less common these days, although wearers may have come across them in the past – Saddle bridges. Saddle Bridges can either click or screw into either side of the frame like the singular nose pads, however they are one piece that rests across the bridge of the nose, creating an in-between option from the two most popular designs. In more traditional frames you may see some models that come with this style of nose pad as standard, and it can also be built into the frame design from the start.

And lastly, the moulded acetate fit. Nothing special about this really, it’s basically just the shape that has been moulded into the design of the frame that sits across the bridge of your nose. This is a ‘one-size-per-frame’ design and can not really be altered so it is very important to get the fit right before you make a purchase. Some brands offer an ‘alternative fit’ range of frames which have a wider designed bridge for the same model of frame, allowing more people to have the correct fit.

So, now you have a basic understanding of the types of nose pads and bridge fits, why do some people have a severe preference one way or another? Honestly, it could be for a number of reasons, even a mixture of reasons and issues which I’ll go through with you below.

  • The nose pads haven’t been adjusted correctly on your metal frame. Sounds simple, but is easily the most common issue! If the nose pads are pushed in too tight on a wearers nose, they will dig in leaving red marks and sometimes even sores. This can also happen if a frame is bumped and one pad is moved more than the other. Similarly, if the nose pads are adjusted too wide, the metal bridge of the frame itself will rest on the wearers nose, also causing pain and discomfort. Not to mention this leaves the frame easily moving on the wearers face causing their vision to often be effected too.

TIP: Correctly fitted nose pads should be adjusted and sitting parallel with your natural nose shape. This means the weight and pressure will be distributed more evenly and feel a lot more comfortable!

  • The Acetate frame just isn’t the correct fit. If it’s too tight it will pinch and is likely to cause headaches through pressure on the bridge of your nose. If it’s too wide the frame will move around too easily on your face and constantly slip down no matter how the rest of the frame is fitted for you. Ideally, your Optical dispenser should be pointing out these fitting issues for you before you even purchase the frame, and should advise you if there is an alternative fit available for your frame choice.

TIP: If you already have an acetate frame (or similar – anything with a moulded bridge really) that is ill-fitting, don’t throw them out just yet! In some cases, adjusting the fit by adding stick-on-nosepads may be enough to get you sorted until you are ready to purchase your next pair. These are most commonly available in either clear silicone or a skin-toned felt which is attached to the inside of the bridge and cushions the fit for you. Alternatively, in most cases you can actually have metal armed nose pads just like a metal frame affixed to your acetate frame by a frame repair company, which will then give you more flexibility with the fit.

  • Your lenses are too heavy for your selected frame. This one can be applied to any type of frame, and any type of fit. The bottom line is, if your lenses are thick and/or heavy, the fit of the frame on the bridge of your nose becomes even MORE important. Any extra lens weight will push down on the bridge of your nose and feel like the nose pads or fit of the frame are the culprit – this is not always the case! If you have had the fit checked as per the above tips, you may need to look at investing in High Index lenses. This will result in a lighter lens weight for you and a more comfortable overall fit. (For more info look at my post on High Index Lenses)

TIP: Always discuss fitting issues with your Optical Dispenser – do not try to adjust them yourself! A lot of the time nose pad and fitting issues can be fixed quite easily if you are dealing with a quality dispenser who knows what they’re doing. And remember, if you don’t tell them there’s something wrong and you’re not happy, they won’t have the chance to fix it!

  • The frame itself is too heavy. This is a tricky one! I’m sure anyone that has worn glasses understands that what the frame feels like when you are first trying them on without your lenses, is hardly ever what they will feel like when you collect the finished product. Frame adjustment and lens weight also play a factor here, and there is no easy way to explain how to avoid an uncomfortable frame – it’s going to be up to the individual. When looking for frames though, be aware of how they feel on. How the frame weight is distributed on your face, and ask the likelihood of the frame being heavier on collection due to your lenses. Invest in quality frame materials: this really does make a difference! An example is in intricately designed solid alloy frame compared to an intricately designed thin titanium frame. They may look very similar on the shelf but their wearability is going to be completely different.

TIP: Generally speaking, you pay for what you get in the optical industry. Be wary of some companies trying to ‘push’ a particular brand of frame on you. I’ve seen countless examples of customers being told a frame is perfect for them when in reality, the only thing it fits is the sales persons’s daily $$$ target.

In summary, wearing glasses should never be an uncomfortable experience. And if they are, there are usually things that can be done to fix your issue. Always go back to your optometrist after you’ve had new glasses for a week or two as with body heat, sometimes frames can stretch and/or move. And lastly, remember the below points when you are looking to purchase new frames :

  • Fit and comfort are THE MOST important thing about a frame.
  • Always ask about the weight and thickness of your lenses in comparison to your last pair.
  • Take your time and never be rushed into making a decision.
  • Ask to try on alternative types of frames so that you can feel the difference in fit. Eg. Acetate vs metal with nose pads.



The Eyewear Girl xoxo

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