I thought glasses would help me see more clearly not put everything into soft focus.
October 10, 2012 9:11 PM   Subscribe

Why are my new glasses scratching so quickly?

I have recently graduated from cheapo magnifying readers to having to wear glasses full time. I ended up needing bifocals and as these where my first full time glasses we splurged on progressive lenses and also had transitions film, or whatever it is added, so that they darken in UV light. All is good, I love my frames, love the glasses got used to wearing them within a day. Then two weeks in the lenses are covered in lots of tiny scratches, luckily, as I'm a klutz, we splurged on the insurance for them and they replaced the lenses for free. I've had this second lot of lenses for just over 3 weeks now and they are as covered in scratches as the last lot and it's going to cost us a $25 fitting fee to have new lenses put in again.

I cleaned my old dollar store readers with windex and the corner of my shirt, they've stolen by my dog and hidden under the couch and they have nary a scratch on them. These expensive glasses have been treated with kid gloves, cleaned only with the supplied cleaning cloths and sprays and live in their case at night when I take them off. I had the woman in the store watch me clean the glasses to make sure I was doing it properly when we replaced the lenses and even they seemed confused as to why they were scratching so badly as I was doing everything right according to them. They do sometimes get greasy and I clean them as instructed under running water with mild soap and like to clean them well every morning before I put them on.

The only difference I can think of is the cheap readers were glass and these lenses are made out of a type of plastic. Having said that everyone else I've asked with these sorts of lenses does not appear to have this problem.

So Metafites what the heck is scratching my glasses, am I cleaning too vigorously, too often, not often enough? Is the glasses fairy coming in the night and cleaning them with steel wool? Do plastic lenses suck and I am going to need heavier glass ones? Any ideas or suggestions appreciated.

Oh in case it makes a difference bought the glasses through Target Optical.
posted by wwax to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Glass is less scratchable than plastic; coatings can also be very delicate and more easily scratched than plastic alone.

That said, most of the time scratches come from wiping glasses with tissue (paper is very rough) as opposed to cloth, or putting them down on the lenses - which you say you haven't done. It sounds like you are doing all the right stuff. Could their coatings be cheap or misapplied?

/not an optician, but have worn glasses daily for 27 years.
posted by jb at 9:37 PM on October 10, 2012

Some dish detergents contain ammonia, which can eat away at scratch resistant coatings and discolor the lenses. My optician told me not to waste money on sprays and to use just water and a microfiber cloth to clean my glasses. (I use one meant for stainless steel, bit I imagine any would do.) For greasiness, she recommended a dilute white vinegar and water solution.
posted by xyzzy at 10:15 PM on October 10, 2012

Did you get the 'anti-glare' coating on the lenses? I found that the one time I got that, it scratched like CRAZY and there was nothing I could do to stop it - I finally nixed any and all coatings on my lenses, and it has completely solved the problem. I was super peeved that my eye doctor never mentioned this issue with coatings and in fact acted horrified that I didn't get the anti-glare coating the next time around (oh! the glare! you'll hate it!) - I feel like they are often working really hard on the upsell on these expensive coatings and don't like to admit to people that they can really interfere with the usability of glasses.
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:45 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I clean my glasses with my shirt. I sometimes use hand soap on them. The lenses are fancy pants anti-reflectives. They are unscratched.

My unstoppable fighting cleaning technique? I wear cotton shirts, and use those to clean my glasses.

Oh, and my lenses are > 3 years old.

Unless you've been using paper towels to clean your glasses, or have been putting them in the pocket of your beach jams, they should not be scratched.

My guess is you have grit in the microfiber cloth.
posted by zippy at 11:25 PM on October 10, 2012

I clean mine with one of those glasses cloths you get in the box with the glasses, I fog them up with my breath first. I do that and nothing else and never scratch my glasses, which have always had plastic lenses and anti-glare coatings. I've been doing this since I was 12.

I'd reckon you've bought some rubbish glasses.

The little dots of spraypaint on mine are my fault.
posted by deadwax at 11:57 PM on October 10, 2012

Some years ago, I had a pair of glasses that became scratched badly. There were other problems, so I ended up going to a different optometrist to the one I had originally got the glasses from. Their opinion was that the lens coating had been badly applied. So this is possibly the problem you have.

(And to reiterate the above points: they also told how bad paper and tissue can be for scratching glasses.)
posted by outlier at 12:07 AM on October 11, 2012

Yeah... If you have an anti-reflective coating, they will definitely scratch more easily. I've been warned about that every time I get it (but it's so worth it).

For cleaning, at the recommendation of my eye doctor, I use a bit of water and a specialty eyeglass-cleaning cloth. No soap, and no other fabrics. Whenever I deviate from this, I'm pretty sure tiny scratches appear.
posted by divisjm at 4:16 AM on October 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know you said you put them in their case as night, but when you take them off during the day and set them down on a table or wherever: do you set them so the lenses are vertical or (eek!) flat on the table? And yes, gotta agree with all the folks saying check your lenscloth or paper, that might be gritty.
posted by easily confused at 5:08 AM on October 11, 2012

Experienced glasses wearer here. You should definitely wash your microfiber cleaning cloth regularly to keep it from getting gritty. But if the coating is scratching that easily I think it's likely it was misapplied.

I had a pair of glasses once where the coating started scratching and even literally coming off in patches just a few weeks after I got the pair -- but only on one lens. The people who sold me those glasses tried to claim I must have done something stupid to just the one side, but I totally hadn't (I am very experienced at caring for glasses and also very, very careful with my glasses because I have a high prescription, so my glasses tend to be expensive). It was just defective coating. I got the glasses shop to replace the lens and then I never shopped there again.

I've had good luck lately with polycarbonate lens glasses from Lens Crafters, of all places -- I'm pretty much a connoisseur of glasses durability, and their coating seems really tough. But it probably depends a lot on the individual shop.
posted by BlueJae at 7:18 AM on October 11, 2012

I had a pair with anti reflective coating scratch terribly once. I won't have it on my glasses now, and I've never had another problem.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:13 AM on October 11, 2012

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I do have the anti reflective coating so that might be the problem. As it looks like I'm up for replacing these (yay insurance) I might get them without the coating and if it keeps up take my prescription to another store. I do a lot of computer work so does anyone know if that makes as big a difference they say in the store to the glare from the screens?

I have tried 3 different cleaning clothes as dirt on the cloth was my first thought. I have a t-shirty material one, an expensive microfibre one and a cheap one from the supermarket that is like suede.

Glasses always go down with the lenses up the few times they haven't gone in the case.
posted by wwax at 8:13 AM on October 11, 2012

Personally, I do not think the anti-glare coating does much for me - but, I have been pretty much blind without glasses since age 8 and so I'm very, very used to what the world looks like through glasses! :)
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:13 AM on October 11, 2012

I use a tea towel or clean handkerchief to wipe my glasses - they are cotton, don't leave lint and get cleaned frequently (so no grit). As long as you are using something soft like cotton, you should be fine.
posted by jb at 9:25 AM on October 11, 2012

I have anti-glare coatings on my glasses and the only time it was ever a problem was when I got in the bad habit of cleaning them with turpentine after getting paint on them at work, which stripped the coatings. Nowadays I just wipe them with a clean t-shirt (or whatever I'm wearing, honestly, as long as it's cotton -- if I'm not wearing any cotton I'll just very gently clean them with water and a paper towel) and that does the trick. I am a bit obsessive about my glasses and clean them several times in a normal day. No scratches yet after many years of this. I do try to store them in a glasses case if I'm out and have both sunglasses and regular glasses with me.

By the way, one thing that'll reduce wear-and-tear is if you find some cheap-but-good-looking glasses online (see the many Ask MetaFilter threads on this topic, I'd recommend searching for "online glasses") and get several pairs so that you can rotate them and have backups and such. I've switched to this system exclusively and have never paid over $35 even for sunglasses since then, plus I now have several styles of glasses to suit my mood, which is fun. And if one pair were to get scratched up I'd just order a duplicate and switch to a backup pair.
posted by Scientist at 12:31 PM on October 11, 2012

I get the antiglare coating on all my glasses and wear my glasses 12 hrs a day and I clean them every morning and no scratches after 2 years...so it's not likely to be the kind of coating, it's likely to be badly applied coating.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:54 AM on October 14, 2012

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