Do I need Pearle Vision's special (expensive) cleaning products to keep my lenses from getting scratched?
October 5, 2006 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Do I really need to use special cleanser for my new lenses, or is the company that made them just trying to get me to spend more money?

This week, I got a new pair of glasses from Pearle Vision. They applied an "anti-reflective coating" to the lenses, which is supposed to reduce the glare from my computer screen and that sort of thing.

When I went to pick up the glasses, the salesperson handed me a stack of these pre-moistened towelettes and told me to wipe the lenses down with them before I used the soft cloth to clean them. She warned that if I cleaned them without using a towelette, I risked scratching the anti-reflective coating.

Conveniently, these little towelettes are sold at Pearle Vision. I think the price is $10 for 21 of them. At the rate at which I smudge my glasses, I probably need at least one a day. I did the math, and that's $180 annually (if I'm really judicious) on special cleaning cloths.

So my question is: does anyone have any experience with this? Will it really scratch up the lenses (or, I guess, the coating)? Or will a soft cloth suffice and they're just trying to get more money out of me?

The only thing I could find via Google was this, wherein one man complains that his wife's lenses were indeed scratched within six months, and they blamed it on her not using their cleaning supplies. (That, and a lot of complaints about their customer service, which makes me feel a little less alone in my bitterness toward them.)
posted by anjamu to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, you don't need that stuff. I wash mine (with their AR coating) with room-temperature water and plain Ivory soap with my fingers, then rinse, then pat dry with toilet paper. Never had a problem. If you used very hot or cold water, or very harsh soap, or very scratchy paper towel (like those brown paper towels in schools), you might have a problem, maybe?

I think AR coatings occasionally will craze (ie develop little peeley cracks) with no explanation, and it's possible that plain soap increases the likelihood of this. But like I say, I've never had a problem.

(Incidentally, you can click on the "glasses" tag above, for more posts about cleaning glasses in previous threads like this one.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:10 PM on October 5, 2006

here's another thread about washing glasses
and another

There seem to be widely varying opinions in those threads.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:16 PM on October 5, 2006

I also wash mine with Ivory soap and warm water, but I was told by an optometrist never, ever, to use paper of any kind on my lenses, that it would scratch the coating no matter how soft it felt to me. He said to use nearly any sort of cotton fabric, so I use a clean dishtowel. I've had these lenses for two years and there isn't a scratch on 'em, a radical change from the mess my lenses were in by this time in my paper-towel days.
posted by words1 at 9:16 PM on October 5, 2006

Do you know what brand of AR coating they use? The manufacturer might have their own instructions. Crizal brand says to rinse lenses under running water (to remove grit or debris that could scratch the lens if you drag a cloth across it), use dish soap to remove any oils, and dry with a soft cotton cloth.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:22 PM on October 5, 2006

When I say dry the lenses with toilet paper, what I mean is: most of the water will just slide off as you rinse under the tap. What you're left with on the lenses is a few droplets. Touch the droplet with a corner of toilet paper, and surface tension/capillary action will suck the water off the lens into the paper. So the paper doesn't touch the lens, just the droplets.

Certainly you shouldn't be rubbing back and forth pressing the paper down on the lens.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:31 PM on October 5, 2006

I have the same coating (it is Crizal) on my Pearle lenses, and the office where I go didn't try to sell me anything special to clean it with. They gave me a sample of some kind of spray cleanser, but didn't do a hard sell at all, which means you probably don't need whatever they're selling you there. I wasn't impressed by the spray, so I just clean them myself.

If I'm being virtuous, I do it with Dawn and running hot water, and dry with a paper towel. If I'm in a hurry -- like, well, every day -- I clean them with a dry paper towel from a brand that's not rough or linty. (Lint drives me crazy -- I never use toilet paper or tissues.)

I got these lenses early this summer, and so far I have one very small scratch; that's to do with putting my keys on top of my glasses (I couldn't see! My glasses were off!) and not with cleaning.

On preview: What I do every day is exactly what LobsterMitten says not to do. I've had glasses since third grade and have never noticed, or had anyone comment on, scratches from cleaning.
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:40 PM on October 5, 2006

I've had glasses since third grade and have never noticed, or had anyone comment on, scratches from cleaning.

The scratches would be small enough to not be individuated, and appear as a fog on the lenses that builds up over time. You might not notice it if you get new glasses fairly often, but it definitely happens.
posted by advil at 10:44 PM on October 5, 2006

I would agree with the consensus here that the towlettes aren't necessary (although they do an excellent job - maybe use 'em once in a while when the grime builds up?). A microfiber cloth, OTOH, is just a few bucks at the drugstore, and is fantastic, even without water.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 11:00 PM on October 5, 2006

Yeah, advil, I know it'd just make the lenses look cloudy if the scratches were small enough. I just haven't seen that happening, and the ophthalmologist and opticians have never said anything. I do need new lenses about every two years, though, because I'm young so my eyes are still changing; maybe it takes more than two years to build up scratches like that.
posted by booksandlibretti at 11:29 PM on October 5, 2006

When I bought my most recent pair of glasses at Lenscrafters the guy talked for like fifteen minutes about how no matter how soft I think my toilet paper is, it's just a bunch of shards of wood mixed with oil and would wreak havoc on my glasses should I try to use it to dry my lenses. He recommended a little soap & water, using my fingers, and then drying off with something like a tshirt.

He looked a lot like Santa Claus, so i trust him.
posted by soma lkzx at 5:05 AM on October 6, 2006

I have AR coated lenses - fwiw I usually just use my t-shirt. When they're very dirty, I spit polish them a bit (again with the edge of a t-shirt or cotton rag). If they're very very dirty, I use the free spray sample I was given.

If you're diligent about check-ups, you shouldn't really have a scratch problem.
posted by muddgirl at 5:29 AM on October 6, 2006

When I went to pick up my anti-reflective coated glasses, the optician was using Windex and a paper towel on them. I was horrified, but she convinced me and I've been doing it that way, every day, ever since. No problems.
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:57 AM on October 6, 2006

I wash my (AR coated) glasses using ordinary liquid dishsoap, hot water, and my fingers. After rinsing the lenses (to remove dust, which will scratch the lenses if rubbed while dry) and rubbing both sides (and the nosepiece) with soapy fingers I rinse the glasses off with a fast stream of hot water. Once they are clean and rinsed, I slow down the stream of water and use it to dry the lenses by moving them slowly through it, with the lenses parallel to the stream. If you get the flow of water right coming out of your faucet, and hold the glasses quite close under the faucet (about an inch) the water will flow smoothly over both sides collecting any droplets that were left from rinsing.

So, in short, provided you have a minute to spare, and access to running water and soap, there is no reason to rub your glasses with anything other than wet soapy fingers. I never clean my glasses any other way.
posted by benign at 8:59 AM on October 6, 2006 [2 favorites]

I should note that I switched to using this method after scratching my lenses by using the soft cloth that was provided with the glasses when I got them, and have not had a single new scratch since.
posted by benign at 9:01 AM on October 6, 2006

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