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Choosing spectacles - made easy!

Choosing Spectacles - made easy!

Once you’ve had your eyes tested, we know that it can feel quite overwhelming at times when choosing new spectacles. At Urquharts, we’re here to help. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made and so we’ve broken the steps down into 4 points that need to be considered.

1.    Frame Choice

The natural place to start when choosing spectacles is usually frame choice.

If you have a moderate or high prescription, choosing your frames carefully could save money and significantly improve the appearance of your glasses.. For example, a very large frame may well require a thinner (more expensive) index lens than a more suitable size and shape. This is advice that we will always help with. For example we have a wide range of rimless frames and wouldn't advise selecting this if the prescription is over +4.00 or -4.00 as the lens would have to be quite thick and this won't give the best finish. We always advise a toughened lens with a rimless frame (trivex or polycarbonate) to reduce the risk of cracking.

Other aspects that we will consider carefully is the fit. Lots of factors can impact this – the fit at the bridge of your nose, the size and shape.. Getting all of these elements right ensures a functional and comfortable fit.

We are one of the few suppliers that will offer new lenses in existing frames. We will always advise that this is at your own risk as an ageing frame can lose some of its strength. 

2.    Know the key different types of lenses


Single-vision lenses have one prescription throughout the lens – Reading, Intermediate or Distance.


Enhanced reading glasses work at two reading distances – for example, your book (close up) and your computer (further away). These are becoming increasingly popular given people’s “digital” lifestyle.


Bifocal lenses includes a distance prescription and a reading area (with a visible segment or line). These are often seen as not as aesthetically pleasing which is why people now choose Varifocals.


Varifocal lenses combine distance, intermediate, and reading, perfect if you don’t want multiple pairs. There's no visible line in the lens, as there is in bifocals. These lenses come in a number of different designs and most have an area known as peripheral “distortion”. As a rule of thumb, the better the design, the less distortion.


3.    Understand lens materials and thicknesses


If you're looking for thin lenses, you're likely to encounter the term 'high index'. High index just means that the lens is thinner. Whether the prescription is a plus or a minus dictates which part of the lens will be thickest, with a plus prescription the thickness will be in the centre of the lens and with a minus the thickness is at the edge. We refer to the indexes as being Standard (1.5 index), Thin (1.6 index), Super Thin (1.67 index) and Ultra Thin (1.74 index). For +/- 3.00 we would recommend a Thin lens, for a +/- 5.00 a Super Thin lens and for +/-6.00 and over an Ultra Thin lens.


During your selection, we will also consider frame choice as this can have an impact on the index of the lens. For example, smaller, round and oval frames give naturally thinner lenses, and can therefore reduce the need for a high index lens.

If you're choosing rimless or half-frames (Supra), consider Trivex or 1.6 lenses for strength, as the bottom of the lens is held in place by a thin cord.


4.       Understanding Coatings & Photochromic Lenses


Most of our lenses include scratch-resistance as a standard coating, and – in the case of some high-index (1.6+) or premium lenses – also an anti-reflective/UV coating. We could recommend choosing one of our premium coatings – Glacier Plus UV or Achromatic UV if your anti-reflection coating accentuates annoying smears, as they require less cleaning. Our Achromatic UV coating also has a crystal appearance, often making a frame look like it has no lens at all. This premium coating is very cosmetically pleasing.


Photochromic lenses darken on exposure to UV light of sufficient intensity. In the absence of activating light the lenses return to their clear state. The brand most associated with these lenses is 'Transitions' and they come in two colours, Brown and Grey. Photochromic is available with most types of lenses– Single Vision, Bifocals and Varifocal lenses.


We also offer full tints (with complete UV protection) in a wide variety of colours, but most commonly brown and grey. Mirror tints are available in a range of colours as well and this is a popular choice now for sunglasses. All of our practices have demonstration lenses for our coatings, tints and photochromic options.


Hopefully we’ve made it as simple as possible but getting the right advice is absolutely key. If you’ve had an eye exam with us or if you’ve been another Optician, you don’t need an appointment to visit any of our practices to look at our Spectacles. We’re always happy to help – including complimentary repairs.

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