I'm not cracking up, but my glasses are
December 13, 2010 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Spectacles getting hairline cracks. What's up with that?

Last year, I picked my glasses up off the nightstand and noticed one lens had a vertical crack. It wasn't a scratch (that is you couldn't feel it from the outside, it was "inside"). I took spectacles to my local Lenscrafters where I got them; they were repaired under warranty. I thought it was freak thing until the same thing happened in November with my new, different 3 week old pair of glasses. This time the fracture wasn't as large. I took it in; they called it a stress fracture & fixed it. Saturday I noticed that radiating out from the nose piece on BOTH lenses, tiny hairline cracks. Very tiny but I am afraid they will get worse. I am likely to take them in for a warranty repair but I wonder will this just happen again?
Possibly relevant info:
I have a very strong prescription (nearsighted with astigmatism)
These are thin but not micro framed plastic frames
I baby my glasses. I have others I wear for sports or reading in bed (so I don't roll over on them). I clean them gently with the right stuff and at night they are kept in a case in a drawer away from the cat.
Do I need a new glasses provider? A new kind of frame? An exorcism to get rid of glasses-cracking poltergeist?
posted by pointystick to Grab Bag (11 answers total)
No advice, but a reference point: my LensCrafters glasses have been hairline cracking for all three years I've had them. I had them fix it the first time, but it kept happening after. I only wear them in the evening/morning before I put in my contacts, so I don't care, but I'm inclined to think it's a provider problem.
posted by olinerd at 11:20 AM on December 13, 2010

Are they Crizal? That happened to my Crizal lens from Pearle.

And it happened after the 30 day warranty ran out. If they are and you have documented this history you might want to switch to something else.
posted by AuntieRuth at 11:22 AM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: LensCrafters is sometimes not at their best with very strong prescriptions; like most high-volume businesses, they do best with the most frequently needed services and less well with outliers. I would try a new provider and see if that helps.

Cracks in lenses are generally either a flaw in the lens blank itself or the result of overtightening of the frames. It may be that your prescription is strong enough that the lens blanks are just too thick for the frames you chose, and the fabricator is overtightening the screws to compensate for that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:24 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Professionally speaking, (not meaning to derail here), Crizal is technically the brand of anti-reflective coating on a lens, not the lens itself.

I think Sidhedevil is on the right track if your frames have screws in them. At your next purchase, mention to the salesperson the problem you are noticing and ask them if there are any similar frames in the style that you like that don't use screws but that can still handle your prescription. Also ask if there is a different material that would be better for your prescription that is not so prone to cracking.
posted by jillithd at 12:07 PM on December 13, 2010

I had the same problem with a pair of Lenscrafters lenses in wire frames. I had the lenses replaced. (Thankfully I got the warranty protection because it was long after the 30 days were up and they said it was my fault.) It happened again, but by then I was ready for new frames anyway.

My next pair were also Lenscrafters and never had the cracking problem; but they are thick plastic frames. I don't have a super strong prescription but it is fairly strong (-3.75) so I wonder if Sidhedevil is right that it happens if the lenses are too thick for the frame and they overtighten to compensate.
posted by misskaz at 12:55 PM on December 13, 2010

they are kept in a case

That may be the problem. In my experience, a lot of eyeglass cases are horrible. Sometimes they're too small for the glasses to fit into properly; sometimes they snap shut with the force of an alligator's bite. Either of these could cause squish trauma. Usually the frames bear the brunt of it, but damage to the lenses wouldn't be out of the question.

If you think the case might be the culprit, and you're only using it overnight, you might want to consider an alternative like a cookie tin that you can just set your glasses in without having to fold them up. If you do that, be sure to wrap your lint-free cleaning cloth around the lenses to protect them from jostling.

(I usually just sit my glasses on the bathroom counter. I don't have a cat, though.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:22 PM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: Sidhedevil has it. I used to work in wholesale lens manufacturing and saw this all the time. People wanted their very thick RX in a thinner, string-groove, or even frameless frames. It just doesn't work.

While I can't tell you what to do now, I can offer this advice for the next pair:

(1) Consider asking for "High Index" lenses. They'll cost more but will be thinner for your prescription.

(2) Ask for the brand of lens blanks used, by name. If the store can't tell you, go to a new store. A place that dispenses glasses and lenses should stand behind their product choices. If they're just buying what's cheap that week and it changes from week to week, quality is all over the place. At my old job at the factory, we really loved Zeiss. Those things were indestructible, but what's more, if there was a flaw, it was really easy to see with the naked eye, so we never put a flawed Zeiss lens into frames in the first place.

(3) The people installing your lenses into your frames are likely tightening the screws too tightly, so talk to them BEFORE you choose your next frame. An experienced technician can steer you towards a frame that can hold your lenses so the problem is less likely to occur.
posted by juniperesque at 1:24 PM on December 13, 2010

Best answer: I am someone who has a 7 diopter prescription (both eyes) and can tell you: you are buying garbage lenses.

Lens quality does vary enormously. You get exactly what you pay for. The cheap packages offered by one-hour outfits like LensCrafters aren't worth it, especially if you have a prescription which is in the slightest bit technically demanding.

Save yourself the grief and invest in a pair of quality lenses. I have no doubt there are a few good lens manufacturers out there, though I have been a loyal Zeiss customer for more than fifteen years now. The lenses are substantially more expensive than the default offerings, but it didn't take me long to figure out why. They are crystal clear, look good and are damn near indestructible.

I went with the Tital 1.7 (high-index) lenses; if your prescription is stronger, they have an even higher-index product (Lantal, I think -- they put lanthanum oxide in the glass mixture). With the 1.7 lenses and small frames, they look fantastic. The thickest lens is 5 mm at its thickest point. After over fifteen years with the same frame (I've changed the lenses perhaps three times) I still get compliments.

The lens pair typically runs me $300, but my vision is worth it to me. That's at least partly because high-index lenses require an anti-reflective coating. Amortized, the price works out to about $70 a year, if that.

Though it's cleverly hidden, you should be able to see the Zeiss mark at the lens margin on a genuine Zeiss lens.

I do not work for Zeiss, nor do I have family who does :) Just happy. I had crap before, and I'll never go back.
posted by rhombus at 3:39 PM on December 13, 2010

Another Sidhedevil is right. I have a pair of glasses with the same hairline crack. My prescription isn't even that strong. They were just overtightened, but the cracks didn't show until a year later. Lenscrafters asked me if I'd used windex on them and said that replacing the single lens would cost almost as much as a new pair.

I have a pair waiting for me at Costco now. And I'll be buying more online.
posted by Hactar at 11:19 PM on December 13, 2010

Screwed again! I paid big bucks for my glasses and they gave me a special folder detailing how extraordinary Crizal is. They made a big point of making it sound that Crizal was a new special kind of lens. In fact, because I was discouraged about AR coatings they recommended them as something new.

I have four cracks in the lens now and since I never I had this problem before I assumed it was because Crizal was a new kind of polycarbonate or something.

Thanks for the info!
posted by AuntieRuth at 2:38 AM on December 14, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you guys! This is really good info & confirms some of my theories (mainly, it's not me & Lenscrafters lenses are of middling quality especially given my Rx).
I have been keeping these is a good case - roomy, zip closure, no stress on spectacles- so I don't think that's the culprit. I'll ask Lenscrafters for a warranty repair & consider new frames & now am armed with info & know which questions to ask! I have been guilty of Lenscrafters use because they are so convenient but now I know better.
Also, on Jan 1, new FSA money and new vision insurance so will search for better provider. Thanks, everyone!
posted by pointystick at 8:06 AM on December 14, 2010

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