Most people think buying scratch-resistant eye glasses means never having to deal with scratched lenses, but with improper care, all lenses will scratch, even those made of glass. When lens scratches begin to interfere with vision, people may ask their eye care professional how best to remove them. They are usually told the scratches cannot be removed and new lenses are necessary. Although this is especially true for glass lenses, plastic lens scratches can sometimes be repaired by some do-it-yourself remedies.
The most popular remedy for plastic lens scratches is a glass-etching product called Armor Etch. Armor Etch removes the anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings on plastic lenses, leaving the original plastic lens intact. Because it is a glass-etching chemical, it does not affect plastic but must not be used on glass lenses. Other abrasive products like cleansers also remove the lens coatings without harming the original plastic lens beneath. Care must be taken to not change the thickness of the surface as it is cleaned and polished. Any product or procedure that changes the surface of an eyeglass lens can also change the refraction and effectiveness of that lens.
Those who do not wish to purchase new lenses have found an assortment of remedies in addition to Armor Etch. A popular and heavily advertised scratch repair product called Lens Dr. is a temporary scratch filler that lessens the visibility of the scratches, but leaves a glossy film on the lenses.
Products like Brasso, Lemon Pledge, and Dutch cleanser can also polish the scratches from lenses. Some people use baby oil, Comet cleanser, baking soda, or toothpaste. A product called Whinks works on some lenses, as does Carnauba cleaner wax and Mess Master. Light scratches can also be buffed out with a nail buffer. Waxy products like Lemon Pledge and Carnauba actually fill light scratches with wax, reducing their visibility. The wax treatment has to be repeated every few days. Rubbing alcohol or diluted ammonia are often used to clean scratched lenses. Polishing with a soft cloth, preferably one made specifically for cleaning eyeglass lenses, should be used after any of the treatments.
Application of hydrofluoric acid to scratched lenses is the most efficient means of removing scratched lens coatings, but the acid is hard to find and must be used with gloves. It also must not be used indoors.
The best solution is proper preventive care of eye glasses, whether they are made of plastic or glass. Storing eye glasses in a sturdy, cushioned eyeglass case is the first step in prevention of scratches. This means the eye glasses should never be placed in a pocket or purse without a protective covering. Never use facial tissues or paper towels to clean lenses, as these products will scratch the lenses. Clean lenses every day with soapy water and dry with a soft, clean cloth, preferably one made for that purpose. Do not clean with soaps containing anti-bacterial products or hand creams. Know that some products including household cleaners, acetone (nail polish remover), perfume, and hairspray can harm lens coatings.