How To Wear Aviators As Prescription Eyeglasses

The iconic aviator sunglass style can also make a statement as eyeglasses. But read this before you style yours.

When it comes to sunglasses, there are few styles more popular than the aviator. It's one of the most iconic and popular sunglass silhouettes of all time. From Tom Cruise to Angelina Jolie, Lenny Kravitz and even Michael Jackson, the Aviator is the timeless favorite of everyone.

(From left to right) Chiara Ferragni, Tracee Ellis Ross and Bella Hadid wearing aviators as eyeglasses. (Images)

But it's also a great option for eyeglasses.

If you're looking for a bold, fashion-forward style, but don't want to take the chunky plastic route, the aviator could be the style for you.

Left: A retro, 70's look. Center: Provocative bold statement without overpowering face. Right: Tinted lenses.

Can anyone wear aviators as prescription eyeglasses?

You might find it helpful to first get a sense of whether the general aviator silhouette is a natural match for your face shape. Check out our previous blog article on styling perfect aviator sunglasses for your face for some helpful guidance.

However, wearing aviators as eyeglasses adds some additional considerations that you should be aware of. Read on to learn how to pull this style off yourself.

Who usually finds it easy to wear aviators as eyeglasses?

While aviators make excellent sunglasses for most people, as eyeglasses they are a little less forgiving. The fact that it is possible to see your eyes through the lenses, rather than having them obscured by tinted lenses, completely changes how wearable they are.

The typical stock aviator would generally be most suitable for people with:
  • Larger and/or wide-set eyes
    As the lens size is wide, aviators look most balanced when framing large eyes that fill the apertures, and wide-set eyes that appear more balanced within the extra wide frames.

  • Strong or angular features
    With smooth curves and swooping corners, the aviator frame is great for contrasting and softening the features of people that have more sharp, angular or prominent features.

  • People with heart or V-shaped faces
    The form of the aviator lens directs attention downwards and out towards the lower corners of the frame. This provides fantastic contrast for anyone with a face that appears wider in the upper half of the face, than it does in the bottom half.  For example, if you have a narrow or pointy jawline, or prominent browline, aviators are going to look great on you.

Which types of prescriptions do aviators work easiest with?
  • Weaker prescriptons
    As the lens size is very large, the aviator more naturally suits a weak prescription, as lens thickness and peripheral distortion can stay to a minimum.

  • Single Vision Prescriptions
    If your prescription is a standard / single vision prescription, you don't need to worry about the tear drop shape of the lens impacting any specific reading zones.

Most typical aviators can be a struggle for people who:

  • Have a strong prescription
    As you may know, the larger your lens is, the thicker it gets. Negative/Minus prescriptions in particular get thicker at the outside edges of the lens, which can look unsightly, especially with metal frame styles.

  • Have a strong astigmatism
    The large degree of wrap (base curve) common within most aviator styles can present a problem if you have a very strong astigmatism. Unless your optical positioning is very precisely calibrated (which most stock eyewear vendors don't acheive), you could experience peripheral distortion and/or disorientation.

  • Have plus/positive prescriptions
    Positive prescriptions often magnify your eyes and make your eyes look larger to other people. The larger the lens, the more prominent this magnification effect can be.  With the aviator's signature large lens, people with positive presciptions could experience undesirable levels of magnification.

  • Have narrow-set eyes (Small "PD")
    For a balanced look, you want your eyes roughly in the horizontal center third of the lens. If your eyes are set quite close together, glasses with wide lenses create the optical illusion of your eyes being squashed in the inner corners, which makes you appear cross eyed. With a very wide lens that droops down to the outside bottom corners, aviators are possibly the least forgiving style of all for you.

  • Wear progressive lenses
    Although the aviator does offer a nice and large total lens area and good overall height, the trademark broad swoop of the lens away from the nose and towards the cheeks actually cuts right through the reading and middle distance "corridor" of a progressive lens, impairing versatility and performance.

  • Have a "low nose bridge"
    Common among people of Asian origin and African Americans, having a lower nose bridge can cause a problem as the large surface area of the aviator frame may press against the face and eyelashes.

  • Have prominent cheeks or high cheek bones
    Whether or not you may have a low nose bridge, you may find the deep swoop of the aviator frame can sit on your cheeks, with the whole frame sometimes lifting in the air when you smile.

The Custom-Fit "Presidio" from Topology makes prescription aviators a possibility for more people

Custom aviator prescription eyeglasses
Custom-Fit "Presidio" Prescription Aviator Eyeglasses

Because Topology only makes glasses for one specific person and one specific prescription at a time, we can craft each pair to overcome aviator fit challenges for more people. Each frame is made from scratch based on 2,000 measurements taken from a selfie on your iPhone. We check each pair against a 3D model of your face and precisely craft each pair so that is:

  • Perfect for your prescription
    Including the correct base curve to match your prescription, not the predefined wrap of most stock aviators that will not match your prescription lens.

  • Precisely calibrated for your true optical positioning
    Your face scan gives us precise 3D measurements of the placement of your eyes, from which we fine tune the refraction strength and angles of your lenses. This significantly reduces any distortion or disorientation that could be experienced by people with strong prescriptions wearing this large lens style.

  • Customizable to the perfect proportions for your face
    The Topology app allows you to fine tune width, height and even vertical "drop" positioning, enabling you to really dial-in the perfect aesthetic to match your facial proportions.

  • Sculpted from scratch for a perfect match to any nose shape.
    Whether you have a low nose bridge, high nose bridge, or in fact any size or shape of nose at all, Topology frames are individually sculpted to fit you perfectly. In all cases we know when to give glasses a little extra push away from the face, so that they do not touch eyelashes or eyebrows

  • Custom tilted to avoid contact with cheeks
    Our system automatically knows if your design is too close to your cheeks, and adjusts the "pantoscopic tilt" angle accordingly. This allows you to acheive the amount of coverage you want, without worrying about smudging makeup or frames lifting when you smile.

Go ahead and try it for yourself

If you've been tempted to try an aviator style for your next prescription glasses, now is the time to give it a try.

Download the free Topology iPhone app to see how the Presdio looks on you and explore the available colors and lenses. When you've dialled in the perfect design, order a $10 trial to receive a prototype by mail and see how it feels in real life.

What are you waiting for?

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