The choices are yours when it comes time to select what materials compose your patients’ eyewear, both the lens material as well as the frame materials. Lenses come in a wide variety of available materials specifically geared toward their use and prescription, as do frames, each of which can often consist of multiple materials—one for the frame front, a second for the temples and even another material for the endpieces and nosepads.

This issue of VCPN covers both, lens materials in an ABO continuing education course starting on page 56, and a special section on frame materials starting on page 28. The frame section further breaks down the available materials into two sections—generic and proprietary or special materials.

If a company trademarks its frame material as proprietary, it has most likely spent a great deal on its research and development and the ways to use it to offer the best value to the consumer and the ECPs who dispense it. In addition, some companies devote a large amount of advertising to promoting their unique frame materials to consumers, who may come into your dispensary asking for these products by name. Some proprietary materials have unique features and benefits too, so if you want those for your patient, you’ll need to use that specific material. In other cases, some of these materials are available from a number of companies but are simply branded differently by each manufacturer.

Memory metals are a good example. Alloys that are stamped out for thinner and sleek designs, memory metals return to their original shape when bent. At first available from select frame manufacturers, memory metals have become ubiquitous yet are still offered by some companies under proprietary branded names.

While many other frame materials have been around for years (Optyl from Safilo has been available for decades) others are just recently on the market and point to trends in the industry. One such trend that’s coming on strong among frame manufacturers is the use of eco-friendly materials. In this issue’s special section on frame materials, we can count at least four special materials that could be considered eco-friendly. Two mentioned in this issue of VCPN are from a plant-based material made from the castor plant (Z-Resin from Zeal Optics and Timberland’s Earthkeepers from Marcolin), one is an environmentally friendly bio-acetate with accelerated biodegradable properties made of cotton fiber and tree pulp (Natura from Inspecs) and one is even made from recycled discarded plastic fishing nets (Costa’s Untangled Collection). Of course, zyl acetate, a plastic derived from cotton fiber and wood pulp rather than petroleum, has been around for years.

Check out the charts on page 34 to see the features, benefits and dispensing tips for a long list of generic frame materials as well as a chart of premium frame materials at-a-glance. Then review the section on special frame materials available from specific manufacturers. There are surely some features, benefits and/or dispensing tips on these pages for even the most seasoned eyecare professionals.

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