Whether you call them “Temples” or “Bows” or “Temple Arms”,
the pair of extensions leading from the frame front to the back of your ears is critical to proper fit in an eyeglass frame. Whether the eyeglass frames are brand new or Vintage and dated, the length of the temple arms will determine whether or not the frame front stays in place, keeping the lenses correctly placed relative to your eyes. The first and most obvious element of temple arms that effects the fit is of course the length, and while that may sound simple, it produces more than it’s share of problems for eyeglass wearers. The length of the temple arms is represented by the third number in an eyeglass frame-size formula, usually represented by a number between 130 and 155. The larger the number, the longer the temple arms overall, and while it is easy to call it the millimeter length, the curve at the end gives it’s “effective “ length a whole other meaning.
It is interesting to note the solutions to this timeless problem from two completely different eras. Antique eyeglass frames from the Colonial period in America onward are frequently found to have been equipped with “slide extension” temple arms where two slotted sections can be pulled farther apart or pushed closer together to telescope to the correct length, held all the while by a tensioning rivet in the center of the slides. Several modern sport sunglasses are currently equipped with telescoping temple arms that use a notched sliding “tube-inside-a-tube” construction to offer infinite adjustment of the temple arm length within it’s range reminiscent of the earlier design. Never underestimate the ingenuity of people from earlier centuries, they will always surprise you. Just as we now might mistakenly think that convertible tops, roll up windows and sun visors came about with the advent of the automobile, history shows us that all these components were fully developed on the carriages pulled by horses before the first engine was ever placed on wheels.
Temple Arm Fit
Another important aspect of temple arm fit is the effective width of the units themselves. Ironically, temples are not intended to touch your temples and should clear the skin in each side of your head while traveling back to the tops of your ears. Consider how frequently you encounter a person wearing an eyeglass frame that has the temple arms pressing into the skin on the side of their temples, resulting a reddened notch along each side of their face. Of course eyeglass frame width, represented by the first of the three-number size designation of a frame, is the critical starting point for proper fit, but fortunately there are some options. Even if the frame is a little narrow for the wearer, as is frequently the case with Vintage eyeglass frames, most temple arms can be effectively widened where they pass the temples by inducing a gentle “S” shape to them as they leave the hinge area, curving outward slightly, before curving back to continue without contacting the sides of the head to the top of the ear. Temple modification, coupled with the correct bending of the terminal curve and slight inward cant at the end of the tips, can complete a secure and comfortable eyeglass frame fit.