You love your eye glasses but they don’t love you back, causing nose gouge, over the head pain and sometimes, even headaches? While prescription eye glasses have come a long way, with cutting edge technology and new materials to make your vision better, glasses with big prescriptions can be heavy. Wearing stylish frames can make the weight even more. However, I’ve just tried ASPIRE Eyewear that features trendy, colorful, super-lightweight eyeglass frames that don’t just look good, they eliminate eyeglasses pain as well. Aspire calls their light-as-a-feather, eye glass frames “Eyewear for Life,” blending the technology, advanced materials, and fashion. In fact, the company claims that Aspire Eyewear is: 50% lighter than a typical plastic frame, 50% thinner than a typical plastic frame, and even 22% lighter than a typical titanium frame.
Aspire claims their eyeglass frames will give you a “”barely there customized “Could an eyeglass frame be fashionable, very thin and light and still hold a my prescription and be comfortable? I have worn eyeglasses with a heavy, “Coke bottle glass” prescription, for decades every waking moment and I was doubtful that the Aspire frames would be so light I wouldn’t notice I had them on, Aspire was willing to let me choose a frame to test out with my own prescription. I chose the Aspire frame called “memorable” in red (also available in back or blue). These rectangular but small-ish frames were flattering to my face and could hold my progressive lenses . Of course there are plenty of other frames for men and women that are equally nice.
When my glasses arrived, the first thing I noticed was the case. It was unusually slim — about the same size and width as a hot dog on a bun! Most glasses cases are a lot bulkier. But the real surprise was when I lifted the glasses with lenses out of the case. They were so lightweight I actually checked to see if there were prescription lenses in them! These glasses were less than half the weight of my normal glasses even though they had the same prescription. The frames were trendy, with a modern look of bold, red, sheer color and fancy black earpieces. Another thing about the glasses is that those earpieces don’t contain traditional screws that always loosen or fall out. They are bolted with a tiny bolt into the frame on one side, and contain a ball and swivel hinge on the earpiece.
Impressed, very impressed, I checked the Clear Vision Optical Aspire web site to learn more. The Aspire frames are crafted from SDN-4 (nylon polymer), the graceful, black metal earpieces feature that screw-less hinge I mentioned, and stainless steel end pieces and temples. SDN-4 is a specially designed, hypoallergenic, nylon material proprietary to the brand. The glasses look delicate but they’re not — the SDN-4 material is incredibly strong and durable while being heat resistant and offering shape memory. I was encouraged to bend mine around to see how flexible they were but I didn’t want to pop out the lenses. Another bonus of this plastic is that UV exposure won’t fade the bright color as would traditional plastic. This is essential for those wholive in sunny climates or spend a lot of time outdoors. One more fact about the SDN-4 sheet material for Aspire Frames– it isn’t injection molded, but created with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinery with 3D technology that can produce unique shapes and color possibilities. It also cuts the prototype process down from 20 weeks to 20 minutes in most cases so on-trend frames are available). Now that’s hot!
The Aspire eyeglass frames have an msrp. of $250 – $280 per frame. That’s a whole lot less than what mine cost. You can purchase the frames at some online services as well and maybe for a discount off the lenses, but easier to try these on in a bricks and mortar store.
Marty Mast, an optician at Clear Vision Optical spoke to me about choosing frames and how to get the most out of prescription eyewear. No matter which option you choose, he said, the most important thing is to have a current prescription. You can’t get the benefit of good vision without this. It might seem obvious, but I used to simply bring my glasses into the store and ask them to copy the prescription. Getting your eyes checked regularly and having an updated prescription helps save your precious sight and helps you avoid eye strain and headaches. As with all prescription eyewear, not all prescriptions fit into every frame no matter how pretty the frame. Mr. Mast explained that this has to do with strength of Rx, curve of Rx, the size of your eye and how they are set into your face, and the type of lenses you require ( reading only, distance only, lined bifocal, progressive no line multifocal), plus their intended use : will you be wearing them all the time? for special occasions only? as sunglasses? only at your desk? for sports? with industrial safety wear?
Clear Vision Optical recommends these Aspire frames for near-sighted prescriptions generally up to -6.00 (they’ve made some pairs up to -10.50), and far-sighted prescriptions to +4.00. One of the reasons to purchase these in person is to have an Eyecare Professional guide you to the best frames overall for your needs. Another thing Mr. Mast taught me is the importance of the Pupillary distance on a prescription. This is the distance between your pupils and where the glasses are going to be ground to sit properly. Most doctors don’t automatically include it (you can ask for it) as once you choose your frames in a store, someone will take the measurement with the glasses on your face. But if you are buying online, it’s essential to get that measurement. Some online eyeglass stores will provide clear lenses that you can mark with a felt tipped pen while looking in a mirror (and then you send that marked pair back for your prescription lenses). Others simply ask you to look in a mirror and use a ruler to measure the distance. Neither of these methods is completely exact. The only accurate measurement is the one that appears on your prescription. In fact, even a for an editorial review, Aspire wouldn’t make my glasses without it.
The Aspire eyewear frames entire collection has a lot of fabulous looking frames. Unfortunately, not every frame will have measurements to fit your face. Some people can get away with big frames and others just channel Elton John in the ‘70’s . Face shape is key. Balance the type of face shape you have with glasses that have a different shape. For example, if you have a round face round glasses look goofy, but ones with an angle, look flattering. If your jaw is very square pick a frame with some curves. I selected “Memorable,” one of the rectangular glasses that wouldn’t overwhelm me and that help balance out the length of my face,
Thinking of sunglasses? Some of the Aspire frames are appropriate for that purpose, but most sunglasses frames have a bit of a curve or wrap to them to keep the sun from coming at you through the sides. If you choose a petite frame frame it won’t block out a lot of light. For sunglasses, choose frames with a deeper curve that are slightly larger than what you would normally select for your regular eyeglasses. Look for lens measurements that are a range of an extra 5 or 6 mm. Transitions lenses also block out light with filters, but they are meant to be worn in and out of the sun, not when you’re going to be exposed to UV rays for long periods of time.
The bottom line: I try new products and report on them so you’ll know if they are worth considering. I was very excited about Aspire — I can substantiate their claim that they represent the next generation in eye wear. Glasses can be a a pain or a pleasure. Banish boring glasses and those that cause pain, and treat yourself to truly trendy Aspire frames that not just feel good on your face, they make you feel good, confident, excited about putting them on. The Aspire brand is distributed exclusively through ClearVision Optical, serving optical professionals throughout the U.S. and in 40 countries. Check out all the options for men and women and then check out the Where to Buy Aspire store locator
UPDATE January 2016: Since advicesisters.com posted this review of Aspire Eyewear in late November 2015, many people have commented on “how cool” the Aspire frame are when I wear them. Apparently they’re a bit hit, and when the curious pick them up, they are amazed at how light the frames are.
In addition, I’m a fan of Dr. Arthur Jung, an opthamalogist in private practice in Greenwich Village, NYC (an associate of Metropolitan Vision Associates) . I asked Dr. Jung about purchasing glasses online, and he was generous enough to offer these thoughts:
The pros of purchasing eyeglasses online is simply the convenience of staying home, cost savings, and a large selection of frames. This is true of all products we buy online. But there are negatives to consider when it comes to buying eyeglasses online:
The cons: You are sacrificing quality and removing the professional service. There is an art and science behind choosing the proper style, size, shape, material, and color. That’s just the frame. Then you have options of lens materials, indexes (thickness), tints, and coatings. Selecting these is easy if you understand what you are doing and have a very low prescription (patients with low prescriptions can tolerate quality and measurement errors more than patients with high prescriptions). Still, you may end up with imperfect glasses and not notice it, but there can be long term focusing and eye muscle problems that can result from wearing glasses that are not crafted perfectly for your needs. It’s like wearing the wrong shoes for years. When you get to the higher ranges of nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism you really should seek the help of professionals.
Buying online prescription eyeglasses really don’t work equally well for everyone (e.g. those with high prescriptions, people requiring bifocals, and children). Especially don’t scrimp on children, as their visual systems are constantly developing. Getting the correct measurement is crucial. They can develop eye strain, poor muscle coordination and even double vision. Also online vendors may not offer you (or you might not select) the correct lenses to meet U.S. standards for shatterproof eyewear (essential for children).
Consider that a trained optician can make the selection of the perfect glasses for your needs, quickly and conveniently. It might seem as easy as picking chic frames, but they have to fit your face and your prescription. You must also know how to get accurate PD (pupillary distance) measurements. Opticians and Optometrists have been perfecting the craft for years. If you want to buy buying glasses online, don’t choose by price alone. Find a site that has good reviews or that has been recommended by someone who has already purchased from there. If you purchased glasses online before and had a good experience, stick with that online company. And I repeat: never buy children’s glasses, online.