When it comes to prescription lens care, there’s a simple rule that, if followed, will virtually guarantee years of optimum performance from your glasses: If they’re not on your face, then keep your eyeglasses in a case.
Trouble is, no one really follows that simple rule, all of the time. (You know who you are.) If you, like so many of us, don’t always use a solid case to store your prescription glasses, then the following lens care and maintenance tips will go a long way toward maintaining your healthy sight.
Cleaning glasses and protecting your lenses
Keep it clean. Keep it simple. To wash your prescription eyeglass lenses, eye care professionals suggest you gently rub your lenses clean with your fingers using warm, soapy water. Rinse them, and then pat them dry with a clean, soft cloth. Many optical suppliers sell ultra-fine, machine-washable microfiber lens cleaning cloths that trap dirt and dust. Try to avoid rubbing prescription lenses with rags, facial tissues or paper towels, as they could scratch your lenses. And definitely avoid using household cleaners, acetone or soaps with cream—as chemicals may damage your frames.
A strong case for storage
Storing your lenses in a sturdy protective case whenever you are not wearing them will go a long way towards preventing scratches on your lenses. Proper storage also helps to keep prescription eyeglass lenses clean while protecting your valuable frames. Never place prescription glasses in a purse, pocket or bag unprotected.
Let them down gently
Okay. You don’t always use the case. If setting your prescription lenses on a table or desk, it’s best to close your frames first before laying them down. Always set them frame-side down to avoid scratching the lenses. The floor is never a good place to leave your glasses. And when in the bathroom, remember: A sink or vanity top puts your lenses in an unfavorable position. Spatters, sprays and cosmetic products can quickly soil lenses. What’s more, anti-reflective (AR) treatments can be damaged by hairsprays or perfume.
Keep glasses on your nose, not on your head. Prescription eyeglass lenses are designed to rest on your nose in front of your eyes; not on the top of your head. Frames can become misaligned in this manner, making even the cleanest of lenses less than effective if not positioned properly in front of the eye.
Eyeglass Frame Materials
Finding eyeglasses with the qualities that are most important to you could be as simple as choosing a frame material, each distinguished by its own strengths.
You can also choose frames based on factors such as color, hypoallergenic materials, durability, lightness, price and uniqueness.
Metal is the most popular material for eyeglass frames. There are many types of metal you can choose, with each having its own distinctive properties.
Titanium - This premium metal is very strong, durable, corrosion-resistant, and is 40% lighter than other metals. It’s also hypoallergenic, making it a nearly perfect material for eyeglass frames. Titanium frames are available in several colors.
Beta titanium - This is an alloy of predominantly titanium, with small amounts of aluminum and vanadium. The other metals in the alloy make beta titanium more flexible than 100% titanium for easier fitting adjustments.
Memory metal - This is a titanium alloy composed of roughly 50% titanium and 50% nickel. Frames made of memory metal are extremely flexible, and can be twisted or bended to an extreme and still return to their original shape. This feature makes memory metal frames great for kids or anyone who is hard on their glasses.
Beryllium - This lower-cost alternative to titanium resists corrosion and tarnishing, making it an excellent choice for anyone with high skin acidity or who spends a good amount of time in or around salt water. It's also lightweight, strong, flexible and available in a wide range of colors.
Stainless steel - This is an iron-carbon alloy that also contains chromium. Stainless steel frames are lightweight, strong, durable, flexible and corrosion-resistant. They also can be produced in matte or polished finishes.
Monel - This popular, inexpensive material is an alloy of nickel and copper. It is less costly than other metals, but – depending on the quality of the plating used – Monel frames may or may not discolor and cause skin reactions over time.
Zyl - This material (also called Zylonite or cellulose acetate) is a lightweight and relatively inexpensive type of plastic. It’s also the most popular plastic used for eyeglass frames. Zyl frames are available in a wide variety of colors, including multi-colored models and frames with different layers of color.
Propionate - This is a nylon-based plastic that is strong, flexible, lightweight and hypoallergenic. Propionate is often used in sports frames because of its durability.
Nylon - This frame material is still occasionally used. Nylon is strong, lightweight and flexible, but it can become brittle with age. For this reason, it has for the most part been replaced by nylon blends – polyamides, copolyamides and gliamides – which are more durable.
As you might guess, these are frames that have both metal and plastic components. Popular in the 1950s and 1960s, combination frames have made a comeback recently, in a wider variety of colors than the classic models.
Mix it up!
Each frame material offers its own advantages and style features. For eyewear that fits every occasion in your life, consider purchasing more than one pair of glasses and choose a different frame material for each pair.
For example, you may want a conservative-style frame made of durable, lightweight titanium for work. But on weekends, you may want something with more color or style, like a zyl frame in laminated colors, or a combination frame with a modern spin of that classic retro-look.
Your eyeglass lenses are designed to correct your vision based on being held firmly in a fixed, stable position in front of your eyes. So when it comes to your eyeglass frames, it’s pretty easy to see why frame protection and maintenance is so important.
Many of us don’t realize how critical proper eyeglass frame alignment really is. But it’s why our eye care professional checks and double checks the position of our eyeglass frames in relation to face shape and size. The correct part of the lens needs to align properly in front of the eye for ideal vision correction.
Eyeglass frame protection maintenance isn’t time consuming but requires common sense and is a routine task you can perform to keep your vision in the clear. Here are tried-and-true ways to keep your eyeglass frames in mind and in place.
Caring for eyeglass frames
Both hands, please! - Eye care professionals suggest using both hands when putting on and taking off your glasses to avoid twisting or misaligning them. Gently grasp the frame arms of your glasses with equal pressure and carefully slide them on, lifting them over your ears. Use the same grip to remove them, sliding them up and forward.
Pay Attention - When was the last time you actually took a good look at your frames? Periodically check your eyeglass frames to see if they are misaligned, and to test for loose screws in the frame arms. If the eyeglass frame looks twisted, or if your lenses seem to ride uneven on your nose, then it’s time to drop in on your eye care professional for a (typically free) adjustment. In addition, many drug stores sell inexpensive eyeglass tool kits containing a small screwdriver and an assortment of temple screws for emergency repairs.
Adjust early, adjust often - It’s a good idea to stop by your neighborhood optician to have your eyeglass frames adjusted. Many opticians will re-adjust your frames, whether you purchased your glasses from them or not. Even a slight adjustment can make an important difference in your healthy sight.
Don’t try this at home - Adjusting your eyeglass frames is not a do-it-yourself job. Your eye care professional is trained to know how your lenses need to be positioned relative to your eye. Also, an eyeglass frame can contain fragile materials and design elements. You might just snap them in your effort to fix them. That means no bending of frame arms!
Don’t forget to wash! - Just as you need to wash your lenses, you need to wash your eyeglass frames regularly with warm, soapy water and a soft cloth.
Not on your head, not on the floor, not by the sink… Storing eyeglass frames on your head can stretch and misalign them. Stepping on your glasses is the quickest way to twist them or break them. And the bathroom sink is a good recipe for soiled lenses as well as frames. Sturdy eyeglass frame cases exist for good reason.