Dirty or scratched lenses are not only an issue of aesthetics but a matter of safety, too. When your glasses aren't 100 percent clear — especially if they're prescription — you risk being blinded by a slight scratch, caught off guard by a smudge or distracted by dirt and grime. Not good.
Scratches that get in the way of what you're seeing, or big enough to be noticeable can cause eye strain by forcing your eyes to work around what's in front of them. Alert an optometrist if they're too difficult to fix on your own, but there are a few things you can try before you do.
How to Fix Minor Scratches
What you'll need: A small bowl, warm water, baking soda, cotton balls and a microfiber cloth
This method is the one DTC glasses giant Warby Parker trusts. It'll work on most minor scratches — especially if they're fresh. Some optometrists advise against using baking soda, toothpaste or other stripping agents because they can damage lens coatings and treatments. Some optometrists even argue that baking soda can warp your lenses, making them harder to see through. But, the risk might be worth the reward if it means clearing a deep scratch from your line of sight. Still, follow the below steps with caution.
- First, in a small bowl, mix one or two spoonfuls of baking soda with equal parts warm water. The right ratio yields a spreadable paste.
- Use a cotton ball to spread the paste over your scratched lenses. Apply it in a slow, circular motion.
- Once your lenses are completely covered, rinse them off with cool water.
- Dry your lenses with a microfiber cloth once all of the paste rinses off. Do not use a paper towel as they're prone to scratching lenses.
- Light scratches should've lifted from the lenses. If not, you'll have to turn to an expert.
When to Tap an Optometrist
Deeper scratches happen. In fact, you probably won't notice the light ones unless you look closely. The visible ones, however, often require an expert's help. If you have scratches that could not be removed using the aforementioned process (or you made your lenses worse doing it), it's probably best to visit an optometrist, who can assess the damage done and make an expert recommendation.
Most times, lenses with deep scratches cannot be recovered. You can't buff them, and contrary to what you may have heard, putting toothpaste on your lenses won't help. Also worth noting: commercial scratch removers aren't designed for consumer eyeglass lenses. The best bet, perhaps irritatingly, is to replace the lenses — perhaps even at a discount if your insurance covers these procedures.
Another option is Lensabl, an online service that swaps lenses out of existing frames — for a fee, of course. Lens swaps typically cost $78, but the price depends on what you need (polarized, transitions, etc.).
How to Avoid Scratching Your Glasses
1. Use both hands to take them off.
2. Never wear them like a headband.
3. Put them in a hard case when you take them off. Get a soft one if you must put them in your pocket.
4. Don't store your glasses with the lenses facing down.