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What is causing my clear plastic glasses to change color?
April 22, 2014 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I have two pairs of clear plastic/acetate framed glasses. Over time, both have changed color from completely clear to blueish in one case, and orangeish in the other. What's causing this and how do I stop or reverse it?

The glasses are this kind here.

Possible causes: I use one isopropyl alcohol-based skin treatment a few times a week, but I try not to wear my glasses for at least 10 minute afterwards. Other than that, I don't put anything other than soap and lotion on my face.
posted by crookedneighbor to Science & Nature (14 answers total)
 
For $240 you should take them back to where you bought them and insist that they either solve this problem or replace them.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:56 AM on April 22 [3 favorites]


It could be what you're cleaning your glasses with.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:58 AM on April 22


I know you say you don't use anything on your face, but what about your hair?

My glasses have clear plastic at the ends, and over time, they've grown increasingly pink due to my hair colour rubbing off on them.
posted by Katemonkey at 9:22 AM on April 22


How long have you had them?

Lots of plastics do discolor over time from sunlight. I'd ask the place you bought them from to attempt to clean or reverse the yellowing.

If thats a no go, you can try soaking them in a bleach or OxyClean solution for a few minutes. Don't expect this to play nicely with any anti-reflective coatings you may have.
posted by fontophilic at 9:46 AM on April 22


Where do you live? What latitude? UV from the sun can degrade plastics, particularly if the plastics are not UV-resistant.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:49 AM on April 22


Interesting ideas -- for the record, I don't use hair products, don't clean my glasses with anything but a cloth, and am rarely in the sun.
posted by crookedneighbor at 9:58 AM on April 22


Is the discoloration on the frame, or the lenses, or both? Is it in a specific location , or evenly spread throughout the material?
posted by blurker at 10:01 AM on April 22


i have clear glasses and the nosepiece and temples where they touch my face are slowly discoloring yellow/orange. i assume it's from sweat/oils in my face. it makes me feel gross, but what can you do?

picture showing what i mean
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:23 AM on April 22


It's not just sun that interacts with low-quality or non-optical-grade plastics and discolors them. It's any light. Light is denaturing for a lot of things.

Also yeah, any biological exudation is going to discolor a plastic. Sometimes even a glass, but more rarely.
posted by kalessin at 10:53 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]


How long have you had them? I'd bring them back to where you got them.
posted by radioamy at 10:58 AM on April 22


Basically any clear plastic item (RIP o dear beloved Swatch watch) is going to yellow or discolor over time. That's the nature of the beast. However, for that much, I would take them back -- it doesn't seem like you are doing anything wrong, but I imagine that to keep you happy they will probably replace them.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:05 AM on April 22


Is the discoloration on the frame, or the lenses, or both? Is it in a specific location, or evenly spread throughout the material?

It does seem to be more concentrated around the bridge and less on the edges -- very similar to what misanthropicsarah linked to. Sounds like unspecified "biological exudation" may be the culprit.
posted by crookedneighbor at 11:32 AM on April 22


Yeah, that sounds like an interaction with your skin oils and/or sweat. It's not something that can be reversed, sadly, but I agree that you should go back to the dealer. That's a lot of money for a product that is going to discolor with what should be considered typical use.
posted by blurker at 11:44 AM on April 22


Could you apply your skin treatment right before bed? Unless you're just using straight rubbing alcohol, there are other chemicals in it that could certainly be reacting with the plastic (and which don't necessarily evaporate/absorb like the alcohol).
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:40 PM on April 22


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