Optical Dispensing, Report

A brief guide to frame adjustment – Part 1

Frame adjustment

The final frame adjustment is the icing on the cake in the dispensing process and can often be a defining moment in the patient journey. That’s why it is so important to get right, writes MURRAY O’BRIEN.

Murray O’Brien.

One of the most important steps in successful eyewear dispensing is the final adjustment. Customers may not remember you if this function is performed correctly, but they most certainly will if it’s not.

As dispensers we have an enormous impact on the wellbeing of people who engage our services. It’s incumbent upon us to ensure the eyewear dispensed is not only accurate with regard to prescription but that also, from an anatomical perspective, functions correctly.

Ultimately, however, we must do no harm. Spectacles are a medical device, so it’s important to recognise we can physically impact the customer if our responsibilities aren’t taken seriously. The harm we can cause is usually minimal, mostly soreness caused by skin irritations behind the ears and on the nose, or the familiar indentations down the side of the head called ‘tram-tracks’. Rarely, more serious complications can occur where skin is actually broken.

Properly adjusted spectacles should allow for comfortable, easy and functional wear. They should stay on the head without slipping under most circumstances, but adjustments also ensure the best vision can be achieved by optimising the tilt, facial wrap and straightness.

My step-by-step guide to adjusting frames, includes:

Step 1: Place the frame on the client’s head by tilting the end tips up, pushing them on, then lowering them on to the nose and ears. You must place them on yourself, so you can feel the tension on the side of the head. The sides should just touch the side of the head without any pressure. The distance between the temple tips must be adjusted to ensure they are the same width as the head at the top of the ears.

Step 2: Check the horizontal alignment. The spectacles usually should be perfectly aligned with the eyes, after all we are most concerned with ideal vision. Induced vertical prism from crooked alignment can seriously disturb visual comfort.

Step 3: With spectacles on the client, look behind their ears to observe the point at which the bend in the temple tips will need to begin. Often this will require the bend in the tips to be straightened before moving the bend to where it needs to start. If you’re not good at guessing, mark the point on the temple.

Step 4: Next, observe where the ears attach to the head behind the ears. Every individual is different. Most importantly, note the prominence of the mastoid process. It’s extremely large in some people and pressure on the bone will cause discomfort, sometimes extreme. The larger the mastoid process the more the temple tips will need to be bent out to avoid placing pressure.

Step 5: Bend the tip to the correct angle just behind the top of the ear. The tip should follow the exact line where the ear attaches to the head. If that line dips, then the tip should be curved to the exact radius to perfectly follow the dip behind the ear. On some frames this may require substantial heat and/ or strong fingers to achieve. This method means the area of the temple tips are spread over the greatest surface area without undue pressure on one particular spot. This will achieve the greatest holding power and comfort.

Step 6: Observation is the key. Look carefully and make incremental changes. Take the glasses on and off until it is perfect. Complete the adjustment behind each ear one at a time. People are often asymmetrical so the shape required for one temple tip may be different to the other.

Step 7: Nose pad adjustment. The pads should sit flush, without one edge of the pad applying more pressure than the other. The angles required for a large European nose are different to Asian bridges. Use your pad adjusting pliers with gusto to form whatever angle is required. Properly adjusted spectacles should be comfortable with no undue pressure, and never slip under normal circumstances. The final adjustment is just as important as any other part of the dispensing process. Taking time and learning the proper skills is not only your responsibility to the client but good business practice.

In Part 2 in October, I will provide a brief guide to the actual practice of frame adjustment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Murray O’Brien owns Designed Eyes in Rosebud, Victoria, where he works in full retail optics. He is also past president of the Australian Dispensing Opticians Association (Vic) and has previously worked in lens fitting work, specialising in rimless.

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