Few things can be as annoying as wearing a pair of scratched or scuffed glasses. Those tiny scratches seem harmless enough at first, but group enough of them together and peering through them is like staring through a dense fog. Even a single scratch, if gouged deeply enough or in the wrong place, can significantly impact your vision and also cause eye strain.
Modern scratch-resistant coatings go a long way in protecting plastic lenses, and glass lenses are naturally scratch-resistant, but let’s face it – our glasses endure daily, real-world use, and scratches happen with improper use or storage. You may be surprised to learn, however, that one of the prime culprits of scratched eyeglasses is a routine task: cleaning them. It has to be done, but done correctly; improper cleaning often results in irreversible lens damage.
Proper eyeglass cleaning boils down to two things: using the proper fluid and the using the proper cloth.
The use of some form of fluid is essential to scratch avoidance. Scratches often occur because minute particles on the lenses are ground in when you wipe your glasses. Fluid acts as both a cleaner, removing these particles, and a lubricant, reducing friction when you wipe.
Several recommended eyeglass sprays, designed to wash away particles without harming your lenses, are available wherever eyewear products are sold. Avoid using standard household glass cleaners like Windex or Glass Plus. These products clean glass very well but contain ammonia or other detergents that can wear away plastic lenses, frames, and the coatings on glass lenses. Soap and water is a cleaning standard and a fine combination to use on lenses. Just be sure the soap you use is free of harsh detergents.
The second part of the equation is the use of a proper cloth. You may think a quick wipe down with your shirt tail is harmless enough, especially if the material is made of cotton, but clothing traps small dirt particles and you’re rubbing them into your lenses. Also, the detergents and fabric softeners used to wash clothes can be harmful to lenses, frames, and coatings. Even tissues and soft paper towels can cause damage. They seem soft enough to the touch, but can contain abrasive fibers that are destructive to lenses over time, and just like clothing, they collect dirt and dust particles.
The best material for drying or wiping down lenses is a microfiber cloth. You’ll find these in the eyewear section of stores or at optometrists’ offices. You may have found one included in the case when you purchased your glasses and there’s a reason why it was there. Microfiber is comprised of small nylon and polyester fibers that are designed to prevent scratches. Just be sure to use a microfiber cloth in conjunction with water or an eyeglass spray. If particles are present on your lenses, even microfiber cloths will grind them into the surface.
You want your eyeglasses to serve you as long as possible. Keep them clean and scratch-free with a little caution, a little care, and the proper materials.
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