Why do some eyeglass frames cause a reaction on my skin?
If metal frames cause a reaction, nickel is the culprit. Most metal frames are made of a nickel alloy. Other metals used include aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, zinc, copper, beryllium, gold and silver. Stainless, titanium, gold and silver are usually hypoallergenic.
Some people can also be allergic to the nose pads on metal frames. Most are made of silicone or acetate, but they can also be made out of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), nickel, titanium or rubber. Silicone is tricky. Certain silicones are hypoallergenic (such as medical silicone), but others can trigger allergic reactions. Both PVC and titanium are usually hypoallergenic. Most plastic eyeglass frames are made of zyl (also called zylonite, acetate and cellulose acetate) or propionate. Other materials used in plastic frames include: polyamide, nylon, polycarbonate, carbon and Optyl (a brand of epoxy resin). Propionate, polyamide, nylon and Optyl frames are all considered hypoallergenic.