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What’s in Your Frames and Lenses?

How often do you wear your glasses? If you’re like most people, you have your glasses on for many hours during the day. That’s hour after hour of a substance resting against your body’s largest organ (your skin) and touching a part that is the most sensitive, the skin around the eyes. So what exactly is in those frames and lenses anyway?

Acetate Frames

Acetate for frames
Acetate for frames

Eyewear materials can range from different types of plastics and metals, with the most variation being in the type of plastics used to create frames. The most common type of plastic used in eyewear is zylonite (zyl). Zylonite is a type of acetate, which is a plastic made of synthetic fibers. High-quality acetate is derived from tree pulp and/or natural cotton fibers. However, these cellulose fibers have been replaced over the years by cheaper options such nylon, polyester, and polycarbonate all of which are petroleum-based plastics. Stop and think about that. With all the information currently out there about petroleum-based plastics (think BPA), is that something you want sitting on your face for multiple hours per day? Probably not.

In fact, the state of California now requires every manufacturer, importer or retailer that sells products that MAY contain BPA must post the warning that the product contains compounds “known to the State of California” to cause cancer or reproductive harm.

Lenses for glasses

The same concerns apply to the actual lenses of your glasses, as well. Many manufacturers have been offering polycarbonate as the main source of lens material. Polycarbonate is marketed as the preferential material since it is thinner and more impact resistant than CR-39. In reality, it has poor optical quality and it is also made from BPA. It is also a cheaper option than stronger and better quality materials like trivex and tribrid. This is why many insurance companies prefer to insure polycarbonate. In fact, polycarbonate lenses are the number one lens material sold to children by many optical establishments! The same children who many health professionals believe shouldn’t eat or drink out of plastics with BPA in them should place BPA-derived plastic near their eyes all day?

The reality in this dilemma is that you truly do get what you pay for. If you purchase high-quality, cellulose acetate frames, you are getting frames that are made of safer materials that will not harm yourself or the environment. Additionally, quality acetate frames are

  • hypoallergenic

  • durable and lightweight, yet flexible enough to be properly adjusted

  • available in a variety of fun, unique, and beautiful colors and patterns

Risi Optique is committed to only offering frames and lenses of the highest quality. We do not offer polycarbonate lenses, but we do offer better alternative materials.

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