Where does the bluish-greenish gunk on my glasses come from?
July 8, 2018 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Glasses-wearer, if your frames are metal, you know that teal-colored residue which appears near your nose, in and around the inner corners of your lenses? Two questions...

First, how to clean?

I'm forced to periodically remove each lens, and tidy things up with a Q-Tip. Anybody ever discovered the universal solvent which easily rinses away this grime?

And second, what causes this accretion? My guess, from the color, is copper is involved.

I've had this problem even with frames that claim to be silver or gold; but my current spectacles are silvery and I think I see that chrome-plating wearing away, revealing copper underneath. Is this just a usual reaction whenever copper comes in contact with skin?
posted by Rash to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've never encountered this before. But my glasses always have nose pads and it kind of sounds like yours don't. Unfortunately that means I have no suggestions for cleaning but maybe your next pair of glasses could have nose pads and save you the trouble entirely.
posted by acidnova at 10:19 AM on July 8

Yes of course my glasses have nose pads; never seen any metal frames without them.
posted by Rash at 10:22 AM on July 8

I've since had LASIK, but back when I wore glasses, I always got green gunk on the backs of my nosepads.

I assumed it was skin oil + oxidized coper from whatever alloy they used
posted by aubilenon at 10:28 AM on July 8 [8 favorites]

I've seen it on some of my glasses. It appears to be a reaction between copper in the nosepiece metal or in the pads and my sweat. I only see it in a set of beloved prescription Ray-bans, definitely the cheapest frames that I have. I've never seen it anywhere in my titanium frames.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:28 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]

Copper is expensive, but you can also get Verdigris from brass, which I'm thinking is more likely to be used for gold-colored metal glasses frames.
posted by rhizome at 10:43 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]

I wash my glasses every few weeks with plain dish soap and dry them with a soft tshirt. It's worked better than any spray specifically made for glasses ever has.
Not sure what the gunk is, but mine is dark green rather than real. I now want to ask other glasses-wearers what color their nose pad gunk is!
posted by missriss89 at 10:44 AM on July 8

You can try to use clear nail polish to prevent this, applying it in each place and letting it dry thoroughly. You will need to reapply it occasionally. I had this on a pair of frames from Pearle after less than a year and when I mentioned it to an employee, she said, "Yeah, that happens." I wasn't really happy with that answer. My current pair have metal around the lenses but plastic earsticks (temples). The gunk comes off my nose pads easier since they are not metal. If a Q-Tip isn't working, try using a pin or tweezers to gently scrape it off.
posted by soelo at 11:06 AM on July 8

I think mine is from skin/sweat/oil/tears etc and the tiny metal screw that connects the nose pad to the frame. I have never had it come off of the back of the nose pad to my skin in any variety of metal and plastic pieces. And I also haven’t had it come on to the lenses or metal parts of the frames. I use a toothpick periodically to remove. Maybe your lenses/frames are getting more wet than they should?
posted by Swisstine at 11:21 AM on July 8

I get this too, and always have. When I need to deep-clean beyond the usual lens cloth wipe I use a Q-tip with a small amount of rubbing alcohol on it. This method has worked well for my frames these days, which tend to be plastic without easily-removable lenses.
posted by migurski at 12:18 PM on July 8

mine is dark green rather than real

Not real, teal!

Probing a little further beyond rhizome's link, I learn that the substance must be Bronze Disease which is caused by chloride reacting with copper (or its alloys). In this case the chloride's coming from the salt in human perspiration. It's what makes a copper ring turn your finger green.
posted by Rash at 1:08 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]

I use Simple Green to clean my glasses (super-effective degreaser) and I've never seen the buildup you're describing.

My glasses have no nosepads, just a metal bridge, so maybe that's part of the reason.
posted by bricoleur at 1:10 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]

I get that on the part of the metal which connects the nose pads to the glasses. I just run that part under hot running water. The water washes it away.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 5:54 PM on July 8

I get this on the inside of the nosepad socket. I figure that part is unfinished and therefore the metal is exposed. (I've been meaning to clean the gunk for a while now, thanks for the reminder!)
posted by Standard Orange at 11:19 PM on July 8

Never experienced this until I moved to the sweaty tropics. Previously I'd lived in areas with low to very low humidity. I clean it with dish soap, using a narrow brush that has a single row of bristles. In Japan such brushes are used to clean the lid seals of reusable food containers. I found mine in a Daiso store.
posted by Homer42 at 12:01 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]

I have never seen it on lenses, but on the nosepads. I use a soft, bendy plastic type, and the green stuff doesn't seem to come off completely. Most of it can be cleaned off, though. I remove the screw that holds the nosepad on, and then clean each part with a Q-tip and alcohol. You can buy a bag of replacement nosepads for very cheap, so I replace them intermittently too.
posted by heatvision at 3:33 AM on July 9

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