People with contact allergies are faced with a question with every new accessory: Will I have a reaction? Navigating the jungle of different materials can be difficult. Here’s what to look out for and which types of glasses won’t cause you any problems.
Some people’s throats swell up, others get puffy eyes or scratch themselves raw. In Germany, one in three people say they suffer from allergies. Contact allergies are one of the biggest culprits. These are immune reactions to certain substances that your body comes into contact with. One relatively common allergen is nickel, otherwise a completely harmless and versatile metal. In the case of a nickel allergy, the immune system goes into emergency mode and launches an attack on the perceived threat. Symptoms include redness, eczemas and itchy pustules.
If you’ve ever experienced one of these reactions, for example by wearing jewelry, you know how unpleasant they can be. The most important thing you can do is avoid coming into contact with any textiles or accessories that contain allergens. Sunglasses and corrective glasses are no exception. These are available in a range of materials and, depending on the quality, the composition can vary greatly. The problem is that the frames at your optometrist don’t come with lists of ingredients that tell you what your glasses are made of. To help, we’ve put together a list of the most prevalent materials and their potential problems for people with allergies. Talk to your optometrist or glasses manufacturer if you are already aware of a contact allergy. They will be happy to help.
Acetate used in high-end glasses frames is derived from cotton. That’s why it is referred to as cellulose acetate, a biodegradable synthetic material made from renewable resources. Glasses made from other materials are often combined with acetate. One purpose this material serves is to reinforce the temples. Acetate is harmless to people with allergies with one exception: in order to dye or shape cellulose acetate, certain additives are necessary. These additives vary from model to model, but are typically not allergens.
The acetate used for the Lunor A11 is made by hand and comes from a family business that has specialized in acetate production for many generations. You can therefore always expect maximum quality and exclusivity.
Many people who suffer from a nickel allergy wince at the thought of glasses with a metal frame. Rumors have persisted that people with allergies should avoid metal glasses in general, but with a little knowledge about the various types of metal, it is possible to find suitable metal glasses that are nickel-free.
Titanium is a non-corrosive metal that is highly sought-after in glasses manufacturing because it is extremely lightweight (it’s the second-lightest metal) and flexible while boasting a high level of stability and robustness. Titanium is nearly as hard as steel, yet half the weight! It is especially in demand in the field of medicine, where it is used in artificial joints, pieces of bone and prosthetics. Because of its hypoallergenic properties, it comes as no surprise that titanium is the ideal metal for people with allergies—not to mention how comfortable ultralight titanium frames are.
The Lunor M9 is a perfect example of a frame made of pure titanium—from the temples and pads all the way to the delicate hinges. The entire electroplating process is, of course, also nickel-free.
Glasses frames are typically made of stainless steel. This alloy is highly resistant to corrosion and generally skin-friendly. It is even used in many surgical instruments. Even though the stainless steel used in high-end glasses frames is largely hypoallergenic, people with allergies should be sure that the parts of the frame that come into contact with the skin have an additional coating. Acetate or a special hypoallergenic lacquer are suitable for this purpose.
MONEL AND NICKEL SILVER
Monel and nickel silver are among the few alloys that people with allergies should avoid because of their nickel content. This is unfortunate because these materials are easy to work with and highly elastic, allowing them to be optimally adapted to their wearer’s needs. The good news is there are plenty of metal alternatives for people with allergies!
An alloy consisting of copper and tin, bronze is a hypoallergenic alternative to nickel silver. However, it is less common in glasses.
Lunor turned to precisely this material for its C3 line of frames: the combination of acetate and bronze is generally very suitable for people with allergies.
Be careful with electroplating, hinges, etc.
So far, we have only looked at glasses as a single unit. But those filigree frames are usually made of several components. People with allergies should determine which of these components actually come into contact with the skin and which components won’t cause a reaction.
When we talk about electroplating, we’re referring to the process in which the frame’s surface is refined. This involves submersing the frame in an electrolytic bath and applying electricity so that a thin metal coating is formed for the purposes of refinement or protection. This can pose a problem for many people with allergies because allergens—often nickel—can be used in the electroplating process. It is therefore important to not just consider the material of the frame, but to also ask about the electroplating process. After all, it is this electroplated surface with which your skin comes into contact every day.
You can be sure, though, that all of the colors in Lunor’s models were electroplated in a 100% nickel-free process. Instead, we use fine materials like gold, pure palladium or titanium.
SCREWS AND HINGES
Most temples are attached with hinges. Whether or not the materials used in screws and hinges are relevant to an existing allergy is to be determined on a case by case basis. Though these components do not come into direct contact with the skin, many manufacturers place great importance on these details. The hinges in Lunor’s titanium glasses, for example, are made of pure titanium.
The pads play a much greater role. They are the parts of your glasses that rest on your nose. For people with allergies, it’s not just a matter of using hypoallergenic materials, but also a matter of comfort. With acetate frames, you don’t need to worry about the material: because they effectively consist of one single piece, even the pads are made of acetate. Pads are also often made of silicone, plastic or glass. Especially high-end glasses use titanium pads. The advantage of these is that they do not tarnish or discolor, as is the case with plastic pads. They are also extremely comfortable and go perfectly with the color of the glasses.