Eye Health

Updated 01 June 2015

Choosing the best glasses for you

Choosing frames for your glasses can be tricky, especially if you've never had a pair before. However, if you know which styles match the shape of your face, you can't go wrong.


You've just been told you need glasses but you're completely unsure about which frame to choose. There are so many different options and they can get pretty pricey, so how do you know if you're making the right choice? The shape of your face is the biggest factor to consider when it comes to choosing a style that will suit you.

What's the shape of your face?

Determining the shape of your face is the most critical factor in choosing the right frames. If your hair covers your face, tie it back and take a look in the mirror. Try to keep a neutral face – avoid smiling as this can make your jawline look different. The Chic Fashionista blog suggests asking yourself the following questions:

- Is the widest part of my forehead wider, equal in with or more narrow than my jawline?

- Are your cheek bones very prominent compared to your forehead and jawline?

- Would you describe your face as long?

Now try to best match your face to one of the following descriptions:

1. Oval

zac efron oval face

Zac Efron (Joe Seer / Shutterstock.com)

An oval face shape has balanced proportions, i.e. the jawline and the forehead are more or less the same width and are narrower than the cheekbones or middle part of the face. Most styles of glasses will suit an oval face. Look out for frames that are the same width as the widest part of your face. Cosmopolitan magazine recommends selecting a style that is top-heavy or butterfly-shaped. Avoid oversized frames as these can throw out your proportions. 

2. Square face

olivia wilde has square face

Olivia Wilde ( DFree / Shutterstock.com)

A square face is angular and as long as it is wide, Oprah Magazine explains. People with a square face have prominent cheekbones and a wide jaw. When choosing the right frames for a square face, opposites apply. Rounder frames without sharp corners best suit a square face.

3. Round face

jack black round face

Jack Black (s_bukley / Shutterstock.com)

A round face is similar to a square face in that it is roughly equal in length and width, but bone structure is where the difference lies, according to Men's Health. People with a round face have much softer lines and less prominent jaw and cheek bones. Like with a square face, opposites apply. More rectangular frames with sharp lines are best suited to a round face.

4. Heart face

reese witherspoon with heart shape face

Reese Witherspoon (Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com)

A heart shape face is similar to an inverted triangle. Like Reese Witherspoon, your forehead is significantly wider than your jawline and you have a pointy chin. Avoid top-heavy frames as these can further emphasise your wider forehead. Instead go for either a frameless or butterfly style.

5. Narrow face

sarah jessica parker long face

Sarah Jessica Parker (s_bukley / Shutterstock.com)

A narrow face is one where the face is significantly longer than it is wide. Thicker frames, ones with wider arms and round styles can help by balancing out a long face.

Now that you know what styles will suit your face, you're almost ready to start choosing. Just bear in mind these extra tips:

1. Know what you can afford. When you add the cost of your new frames to the cost of the eye test and lenses, the total can easily get out of hand. Determine what you can afford to pay for lenses before making a spur-of-the moment decision that you may regret later.

2. Colours and patterns. Colours and patterns may look fashionable now but will they still be on trend in a year's time? If you can't afford to buy new frames every year, try selecting a more classic style that won't date too fast and that is versatile enough to go with most of your outfits.

3. Size. When wearing a pair of frames, your eyes should be positioned in the middle of the lenses. If your eyes aren't centred in the frame, your vision will more than likely be obstructed and certain angles and you may find yourself constantly pushing your glasses up or down to see better.

Read more:

Contacts don't have to be an eyesore

Glasses and contact lenses

Lenses or laser?


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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