Make my horn rimmed glasses look like new again!
September 8, 2012 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for horn rimmed glasses care? My rims often get this strange white discoloration/build-up --- however it doesn't wipe off or come off with water. Is this common?

The inside of the glasses, which touch my face, never discolor. I have tried oiling the outside with breadboard oil, but after I gave the glasses a rinse the discoloration was worse, not better. Some days the glasses look great, and some days they are discolored. I really have no idea what the cause is or how I can control it.
posted by molecicco to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I had the same problem - I think it's UV damage from sunlight exposure. Did not find a remedy.
posted by The Toad at 12:02 PM on September 8, 2012

The temples of my Jean Lafont glasses did something similar. It almost looked like cracks where the undyed plastic underneath showed. I think it was a consequence of the plastics used, exposure to the elements (UV in particular), and general age, though the damage got so bad after two years that I ended up having to get new glasses. When I had some cash on hand, I ordered replacement temples and now I have a second spare pair of glasses.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:22 PM on September 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hard to tell from your description, but the consensus is probably right and it is plastic discoloration from UV rays. Two comments, though, in case it isn't:

1. Try a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. That should remove just about any buildup that can be removed. If it doesn't come off, then well, probably UV damage as earlier mentioned.
2. If you like horn-rims, do you know you can order the same frames and lenses from online vendors (often in Hong Kong) for super-cheap? These aren't knock-offs-- it is the exact same items, just without the obscene mark-up that opticians in North America and Europe charge. A lot of people have saved tons of money with just a little bit of research on buying from Hong Kong and mainland China. A good introduction, even though it is six years old, is "Eyeglasses Stores are for Suckers". That is a post from the Glass Eyes blog, which is still updated and still a good resource for ordering your own. There are plenty more sources of information, too, just google "order your own glasses" and you'll see what I mean. Good luck!
posted by seasparrow at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have been wearing glasses for many, many years and I've always gotten this white fog on frames, always most noticably on the temples and arms of black glasses. Never found a solution. Just buy more pairs of cheap glasses (as seasparrow outlined above) and don't try to make the same pair last years and years of daily wear.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:03 PM on September 8, 2012

Best answer: i'm guessing your frames are plastic (cellulose acetate), not actual horn. this milky white film is common is the plastic ages and from what i gather is caused by oxidation. i've done some internet research but haven't tried any of the suggestions yet. an optician in a video on ehow suggests furniture polish or a lubricating multipurpose oil: wipe it on, let sit for a few minutes, then wipe off. clean-n-brite makes a frame polish that "actually waterproofs which prevents oxidation," but i'm not sure if it solves the problem once it's already occurred. you could try other oils of various sorts; the internet suggests that WD-40, lanolin, beeswax, jojoba oil, and/or vasoline may help. one person on amazon says that bar keepers friend worked. is all else fails, you could probably take them into any optician and ask them to polish the frames for you.
posted by nevers at 1:31 PM on September 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

A very, very mild abrasive should polish it off. Maybe Barkeeper's Friend, or silver polish. Waxing sounds like a good idea.
posted by theora55 at 2:14 PM on September 8, 2012

Car polish + wax! Pizacake.
posted by herrdoktor at 2:26 PM on September 8, 2012

My optometrist told me once this white oxidation is caused by heat. So do not use hot water to clean the glasses, and do not leave them sitting in the sun. I have followed these two rules with my current pair and have had them for more than five years with no whiteness on the frames. This is the first pair that has been the case for!
posted by lollusc at 7:20 PM on September 8, 2012

Best answer: Sounds like environmental stress cracking of the polymer, which we also refer to as surface crazing. I agree that it should polish off, but if you use any oil or cleaner, you run the risk of causing additional stress cracking over time if the cleaner has a chemical incompatibility with the polymer.
posted by blurker at 9:40 PM on September 8, 2012

Best answer: Update: I went to the shop where I bought the glasses. They said the glasses are made of many layers of organic material (cellulose something or other) and that the outer layers can get damaged when sweat enters, or from heat (in my case, UV or heat is problem). They polished off the damaged layers off with some kind of special machine (only cost 10€) and they look good as new now. Guy at the shop said I should give them a rub with oil every now and then (but not too often), and be sure to wipe off any sweat or oil that is on the frames at night, and I should be fine. I figure they could be polished another 100 times before they are noticeably smaller, so I think everything is A-OK!
posted by molecicco at 1:43 PM on October 7, 2012

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