Removing superglue from a glasses lens?
December 28, 2009 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Long story short, my boyfriend managed to get superglue on one of the lenses of his glasses and it had time to set overnight, and has had no success getting it off with rubbing alcohol or peroxide. He's wary of trying to scrape it off so as not to damage the lens and would like to avoid having to replace the glasses since his prescription is pretty expensive. The frames are plastic so I don't think it'd be much of a problem to have the glasses soak in a solution. Do you guys have any suggestions for a safe-as-possible way to remove the glue without damaging the lens too much, or at least a way to loosen it so that it doesn't involve too much scraping? (Would Goo Gone work on superglue that's on glass?) Or is he pretty much screwed and will need the lens replaced?
posted by runaway ballista to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Call the optometrist. The usual remedy is acetone, but it could damage the lens.
posted by theora55 at 9:17 AM on December 28, 2009

Are the lenses glass? Or plastic?

Nail polish remover with acetone will remove superglue, but it will also strip plastic. If the lens is glass, nail polish remover will work fine.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:17 AM on December 28, 2009

acetone removes superglue perfectly, although you wouldn't want it to touch the plastic frames (it eats up plastic). however, i'd be wary of any finishes on the lenses. maybe you can call your optician and see exactly what kind of lenses you have. this soak-in-water method seems promising.
posted by acidic at 9:18 AM on December 28, 2009

Usually you have to use acetone/nail polish remover to remove or soften superglue, but I think that would also affect the lens if it's polycarbonate. If you are going to try it anyway, try using a whole bunch of soaked q-tips to soften and wipe away the glue. Make sure the cotton is well-soaked (so you don't get fibers embedded) and don't use anything sharp to scrape with. Then leave it alone and don't touch it for several hours until the acetone is well evaporated and everything is definitely hardened up.

I think you'll end up with a weird spot where the glue was, but it may or may not bother him.
posted by cabingirl at 9:20 AM on December 28, 2009

Response by poster: I just checked with him, and the lenses are polycarbonate, so I think acetone's out. We're going to check with an optometrist for the best solution but until then I think we might try the water soak solution. Thanks so much for your suggestions so far, guys!
posted by runaway ballista at 9:42 AM on December 28, 2009

Polycarb is even somewhat soluble in isopropanol, so be careful.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:48 AM on December 28, 2009

You could try hitting it with "freeze spray" aka an upside down can of compressed air. This may also be bad for any kind of anti-scratch finish, I'm not sure, but certainly much less bad than acetone.
posted by ecurtz at 10:33 AM on December 28, 2009

Acetone is the key to removing superglue but as has been stated may well dissolve your lenses or their coatings.

If he ends up needing new lenses check out the blog which is about ordering glasses and replacements online at very reasonable rates.

Specifically I've had several frames relensed by Prices have been typically a quarter of the price of the local merchant. If he's missing his prescription I believe they can match a prescription as well.
posted by deanj at 11:02 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]

I removed the anti-glare coating from my glasses (polycarbonate) with glass etching cream, and trust me, that coating was on there but good. (The optometrist had tried but failed to get it off, leaving me with milky lenses.)

It didn't damage the lenses - I let the cream sit for about 15 minutes, then polished gently with an old soft toothbrush.

I don't know if the cream will eat away at the superglue, but it can't hurt to try - glass etching cream is cheap.
posted by HopperFan at 11:34 AM on December 28, 2009

Hot water softens superglue considerably. Try running them through the dishwasher on the "sanitize" cycle and pull them out while still hot. I don't know for sure that this won't damage the lenses, but it seems safer than other options. (I used this method to get a bunch of superglue off of my hard palate and teeth.)
posted by KathrynT at 12:07 PM on December 28, 2009

I also have had luck with hot water removing superglue. Not boiling-hot; what comes out of your faucet should get hot enough.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:44 PM on December 28, 2009

runaway ballista writes "I just checked with him, and the lenses are polycarbonate, so I think acetone's out."

I can speak from experience that acetone will eat plastic lenses.
posted by Mitheral at 3:22 PM on December 28, 2009

We use xylene to remove permamounted (super-superglue) coverslips on glass slides. That's just another datapoint. It's probably hard to get a hold of, but it should do the trick nicely (and you can catch a wicked buzz off it).
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 3:35 PM on December 28, 2009

Put a little automatic dishwasher detergent in water and boil. Dip the glasses in until the glue softens, and wipe it off. The polycarbonate lens will be fine, not sure about the frames. Don't use hand washing detergent - the surfactants will make it foam up.
posted by topynate at 4:11 PM on December 28, 2009

DEFINITELY recommend!!!!

I got my extremely high index, no line bifocals from for $90 delivered.

Upsides: price is excellent, as my last lenses were over $500!! I can afford new glasses every year now!

Downsides: 2 week wait for new glasses. Not sure if the frames will look good unless you go to a store and try that model on, then walk out (always fun!) Also, unless your measurements are written down somewhere, you will need to measure a previous pair of glasses to get a size you like/can wear As I have a crooked pinhead, and can wear kid's frames, this is a bit more of an issue for me than for most. Measure in mms. OD is easy enough to do yourself, or use the standard measurements, they are acceptable.

I had to glue in some lenses as well. Basically after the glue was dry, I scraped it off starting with thumbnail, then a plastic scraper, wooden item, up to a soft metal item. Got most of it off.

Most guys generally don't notice schmutz on their glasses, or scratches at the edges. You'd be amazed what you can get used to....
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 8:27 PM on December 28, 2009

Start with the least-aggressive method possible. Put the glasses in the freezer for an hour, then (preferably with a magnifying lens) scrape at the glue with a plastic knife.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:40 PM on December 29, 2009

Zenni Optical
posted by DeltaForce at 6:59 PM on December 31, 2009

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