Even patients with the most sensitive skin can enjoy stylish eyewear options, which are made with a range of materials. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, about 20% of the population will exhibit some skin-allergic reaction to eyeglass frames. Known medically as contact dermatitis, it manifests itself as an itchy red rash and even oozing sores on the affected skin. The way to avoid this problem is to offer these patients frames that are hypoallergenic.


Frame manufacturers and patients alike love titanium. Many companies, including Charmant Group, pride themselves on the quality of their titanium frames. Like all metals, there are a number of forms of this material. Titanium billed as “pure” is often about 94% titanium with trace metals added, though Charmant’s frames are 100% titanium. This form is considered relatively safe for skin allergies. Pure titanium is very lightweight and durable. Ogi’s North division offers the Red Rose Collection, which is also made from pure titanium. Its lightweight, minimalist designs come in popular colors, and some employ screwless technology.

Another type is beta titanium, which is made with aluminum and vanadium. The resultant alloy is a very strong and light material that’s hypoallergenic.


We use stainless steel for cooking and eating utensils for the same reasons we use it for eyewear: it’s anti-corrosive under most conditions and has a very high tensile strength. Stainless steel is lightweight, holds its shape well, adjusts well, and can be made into a thin wire to make remarkably lightweight, hypoallergenic eyewear.


A frequently used hypoallergenic frame material, aluminum is also anti-corrosive. Since aluminum is very soft-think kitchen foil-it is combined with other metals like iron and chromium, which increase its durability. Aluminum frames can be tough to adjust and are known to mar if not adjusted properly so use caution with them.


Frame materials made of plastic have a low incidence of skin allergy problems, especially when premium grades are used. The most utilized material is cellulose acetate, which can be found in many frames including Morel’s Lightec 7689L and several WestGroupe styles such as EVATIK E-9111. Other acetate-based materials are forms of nylon, like proprionate and polyamide.

Polycarbonate and Safilo’s proprietary Optyl are other viable choices. Optyl is hypoallergenic and resistant to perspiration and cosmetics. This material can be easily adapted to perfectly fit the wearer’s face with long lasting results and has no contraindication, even for the most sensitive skins, according to the company.

SPX is another frame material that is dermatologically inert, which means it doesn’t react with body chemicals and is resistant to body oils and cosmetics. It is considered hypoallergenic. This material is also known as a super polyamide, and is a nylon derivative. The manufacturing process is done by way of injection molding, and there are many surface finish and color options. SPX is used by Silhouette Optical, Ltd. to produce frames that are thin and strong, and with lustrous colors. One interesting fact about this version of polyamide that it has a negative coefficient of expansion, so it shrinks if it reaches temperatures above 90°C during insertion or adjustment.

Protecting your patients from an allergic skin reaction is easy when you use the right materials.

Sharon Leonard is a licensed optician and contact lens practitioner in the Syracuse, NY, area.



Charmant Group 800-645-2121 • charmant.com/us

Morel 800-526-8838 • morel-france.com

Ogi Eyewear 888-560-1060 • ogieyewear.com

Safilo USA 800-631-1188 • safilo.com

Silhouette Optical, Ltd. 800-223-0180 • silhouette.com

WestGroupe 800-361-6220 • westgroupe.com



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