Dispensing, Feature

A frame is not just a frame

Patients look to optical dispensers for their expertise when it comes to finding the best fitting frame. And the prescription often has a bearing on what’s feasible, writes DINA ANASTAS.

Choosing the correct frame for the patient’s prescription. This is the fun part of the optical dispensing process that hopefully leaves the patient with a fashionable pair of spectacles that allows them to express themselves.

Today, there are so many styles, brands and shapes – along with different materials and colour options – that it is important to know your practice’s product range.

A simple first step is cleaning your frames every morning, making sure they are all in their correct locations. This might seem trivial, but if a customer comes in asking for a red frame, this daily exercise will enable you to quickly locate every red frame in your store.

Dina Anastas.

Anyone with reasonable skills can help someone select a new fashion piece of eyewear, but it takes a little more thought on understanding how the aesthetics of that patient’s prescription will look in the frame selected.

As Mr Murray O’Brien mentioned in the October issue, matching the lens and frame curves is very important and therefore my recommendation is to always look at the prescription first, then choose your lenses factoring in the following:

  • Pupil distance (PD)
  • Astigmatism
  • Prism
  • Index of material

The last piece of the puzzle is choosing a lens design that best suits the patient needs and lifestyle before selecting the frame.

That way, you will have already considered how their lens prescription may look in a particular frame shape. For example, if the prescription requires a high plus powered lens, you may steer away from a rectangular shape frame and favour a more round or oval shape for best visual aesthetics and thinnest lenses.

Not only is the prescription a priority before selecting the frame, but just as important is the shape. Consider the following:

Shape – Correct shape for their face but also for their prescription.

Eye size – Width of the frame, not too wide and not too narrow. Does the frame come in multiple sizes to suit the patient’s face?

Bridge fit – Is it fitting comfortably on their nose? Are there gaps? Would they be better with nose pads for ease of adjustability? If choosing a shell frame, make sure it fits perfectly as it cannot be adjusted later.

Temple length – Make sure you check they are not too long or too short. This will impact their final fitting adjustment at collection, so it should be reviewed at frame selection. This point is often overlooked and the spectacles will never be a great fit.

Patient’s PD – If the patient has a small PD, then make sure the frame you select is not too big. The main reasons for this are aesthetics, thickness and weight but also for lens blank diameter as it may not be suitable even when grinding customised lenses.

Material – Weight may be a consideration at the time of dispensing, so make sure you ask the correct questions early for the patient’s comfort and wear. For example, if they are wearing a rimless frame and want a new look, make sure the new full- frame is either a lightweight SPX plastic or titanium metal frame, as the patient is already comfortable in a lightweight frame and choosing an acetate frame may feel too heavy.

If the frame the patient selects isn’t the best fit in your opinion, recommend they choose another frame. Explain the reasons why and with your expertise and guidance, show them something similar that will be a far better fit.

As a trained optical dispenser, our patients are looking to us for our expertise and knowledge, to guide them to the best fitting pair of spectacle frames. Don’t just let the patient decide because it’s easier. Often this can lead to them returning week after week for regular adjustments because they don’t fit correctly and are uncomfortable for daily wear. We have all learned this the hard way at some point in optics.

Always adjust your patient’s spectacle frames on collection. Even if they say they feel fine, there’s always a small minuscule adjustment possible to make them great – not just OK. We are the experts, so show them you know what you are doing.

The ultimate objective as an optical dispenser is to get the best fit the first time, every time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dina Anastas is a partner and practice manager at Harris Blake & Parsons Optometrists and a director of the National Australian Dispensing Opticians Association. She graduated with an optical technician diploma and has 35 years’ industry experience.

More reading

The power of lens decentration

Matching lens and frame curves

Getting to know your product range