How to Get Scratches Out of Glasses?

December 19, 2023

Glasses are highly susceptible to getting scratched during daily wear and tear. Scratches on the lenses can cause blurred vision, headaches, and an overall reduction in the quality and lifespan of your lenses. 

Thankfully, there are many ways you can remove scratches from glasses or prevent them from occurring in the first place. 

This guide will cover the common causes of scratches, the problems they create, techniques for scratch removal and prevention, when to replace lenses, and tips for making your glasses last. 

Stick around!

Main Causes of Scratches on Lenses

Glasses get scratched due to a wide variety of reasons. Being aware of the potential scratching hazards can aid you in avoiding damage.

Here are the main reasons: 

Everyday Wear and Tear

Normal daily usage of glasses leads to the gradual accumulation of very minor scratches over time. The lenses come into incidental contact with microscopic debris in the air which causes tiny nicks and scuffs. 

Glasses also get bumped around during cleaning and storage, introducing fine superficial scratches. Additionally, the friction of repeatedly donning, wearing, removing, and wiping glasses rubs away at the surface slowly, creating a dulled look. 

Much of this wear and tear occurs on the most handled parts like over the nose pads. The gradual buildup of all these tiny scratches eventually leads to visible dullness and haziness.

Improper Storage and Cleaning

If not properly cared for, glasses are extremely prone to getting scratched. Tossing them loose into a bag or pocket allows the lenses to rub against other random items, easily getting scuffed.

Improper cleaning habits also damage the delicate lens surface. Using harsh chemicals, dirty rags, paper towels or aggressive scrubbing introduces lens abrasions.

Letting glasses slide around in a drawer or case without a protective pouch also exposes them to getting scratched by other contents. 

Storing glasses loosely can allow the lenses to graze against each other or other items. Lint, dust, and particles inside cases also get pushed around, creating scratches. 

Overall, inadequate storage and cleaning habits scratch up lenses faster.

Children, Pets, and General Mishandling

Glasses are frequently subjected to kids, pets, and accidental damage. Children may play with glasses or inadvertently touch the lenses with toys. 

Pets can also knock glasses over or step on them, creating scratches in the process. Even grabbing glasses hastily off a table edge can drag the rims over the delicate lens surfaces!

Dropping glasses lens-side down also causes scratches or chips. 

Really, any improper handling, like setting glasses facing down or tossing them into a purse, risks lens scratches.

Problems Caused by Scratched Lenses

It’s not just a cosmetic nuisance when glasses lenses get all scratched up. Scratches actually hamper proper vision and lens functionality in several ways.

Blurred Vision, Headaches, and Eye Strain

As very fine scratches accumulate, they increasingly interfere with light passing correctly through the lens. This causes light to get scattered instead of focused, resulting in blurred or distorted vision. 

Squinting to see through scratched lenses also strains the eyes and commonly produces headaches after prolonged use. Even a single deep gouge can be hugely disruptive to clear sight by diffusing light inconsistently.

Increased Need for Lens Replacement

The vision problems caused by extensively scratched lenses often necessitate getting new ones more frequently. 

No one wants to continually replace pricey prescription lenses, so extending how long lenses remain scratch-free means less money spent on replacements.

It also reduces hassles from additional doctor’s appointments, lens measurements, and waiting periods.

Shortened Lens Lifespan

For plastic and polycarbonate lenses especially, severe scratches essentially weaken the lens integrity and shorten its usable lifespan. 

Deep scratches make lenses more prone to cracking or shattering when impacted. It also causes certain plastics to deteriorate faster structurally. So heavily scratched lenses reach the end of their viability sooner. 

Keeping lenses free of gashes and gouges extends the life of glasses before they need replacement.

Removing Light Surface Scratches

Light surface scratches can often be minimized using simple homemade approaches. While not perfect solutions, these methods can improve the appearance of lenses with mild scratching.

Cleaning With Dish Soap

For surface scratches, gently wash the lenses with regular dish soap and lukewarm water. Use your fingertips to softly rub the soap over the lens surface in small circular motions. Rinse off with water and dry the lenses using a very soft microfiber cloth, cotton shirt, or lens wipe.

The surfactants in dish soap work to fill in micro-abrasions, creating a smoother surface. Additionally, the friction of rubbing helps wear down any remaining raised edges of the scratches. 

Repeat the washing and rubbing cycle if needed to further improve clarity. Make sure to avoid using hot water or rubbing aggressively.

Applying Toothpaste

Use a small dab of regular toothpaste (not gel-based) directly on the scratched area. Redistribute it over the whole lens surface to avoid concentrating abrasives in one spot. 

Then, gently rub it in using your finger, a microfiber cloth, or a very soft brush. Do not press too hard or go in a back-and-forth motion. 

Next, rinse toothpaste off lenses thoroughly with cool water and air dry or pat with a microfiber towel. The mild abrasives in toothpaste can polish out minor surface scratches in plastic and polycarbonate lenses. 

Just be cautious using toothpaste on advanced lens coatings as they could get damaged.

Trying Metal Polish

Non-abrasive precious metal polishes designed for silver and jewelry can also work well for shallow glass lens scratches. 

Apply a tiny dab of polish to the scratched area using a clean microfiber cloth. Use gentle circular motions to massage the polish into scratch. The buffing action helps smooth and blend in the scratches.

Thoroughly rinse off the lenses with water afterward and dry them with a fresh microfiber cloth. Foam swabs can help remove polish residue from frame crevices. 

Be extremely careful about getting metal polish on frame finishes, as it can strip color coatings. Tape off the frames if needed before using jewelry polishes on glasses.

Specialty Scratch Filler and Polishes

There are commercial scratch-removing liquids and polishes formulated specifically for plastic and polycarbonate eyeglass lenses. These specialty solutions are designed to fill in and smooth out superficial damaged areas on lenses.

Dab a small amount of solution directly onto scratches using the included microfiber pad or foam swab, then gently rub in a circular motion. As the product dries, increase the buffing pressure moderately. 

Rinse treated lenses afterward and dry them with a clean soft cloth. Repeated applications may be required for optimal effectiveness with extra-fine scratches. 

Buffing Scratches Out

Repeatedly buffing lenses with a circular motion using microfiber cloths can help your glasses regain some visual clarity disrupted by superficial scratches. This works by gently wearing down the raised edges around the scratches. Over time, the scratches become less visible.

Be sure not to overdo the buffing pressure, however, as excess friction generates heat which could potentially damage lens coatings or frames. And only buff in gentle circles rather than back-and-forth motions to avoid creating deeper wider gashes.

Repairing Deeper Scratches

While light scratches can be cured at home, deeper gashes will require professional assistance. Don’t try aggressively sanding or scraping away severe scratches as this can further damage the lenses.

Visiting an Optometrist or Optician

Glasses with badly scratched lenses should be assessed by an eye doctor or optical shop. They have access to lens measurement tools and specialized finishing equipment. 

An optician can determine if the prescription plastic or polycarbonate lenses can be refinished by removing a thin top layer to eliminate deeper scratches.

This regrinding process smooths lenses by precision resurfacing them to exact specifications. It removes the least amount of material necessary to buff out defects. Note, however, that lenses can only undergo a few resurfacings before becoming too thin to work properly. 

Trying Lens Repair Kits

Specialized do-it-yourself lens repair kits contain liquids, sealants, buffers, and sanding pads for fixing severely scratched lenses. Most kits also include multiple grits to smooth and polish down to optical clarity. 

Follow all kit directions precisely as each has slightly different instructions. Generally speaking, the process involves cleaning, applying liquid filler, curing under UV light, smoothing scratches by sanding/polishing, and final polishing. 

Repair kits work best on plastic, Trivex, and polycarbonate lenses. 

Applying Liquid Fillers

On their own, specialty lens-filling liquids can yield decent results for deep scratches without requiring an entire kit. 

The filler solutions contain polymers, bonding agents and polishes blended into a viscous consistency similar to nail polish. 

Dab the solution generously into scratches using included micro-brushes or toothpicks. Then, allow the filler to dry fully—from 8 to 24 hours depending on product and humidity. 

Once cured, excess material can be gently smoothed away using microfiber cloths or by lightly buffing manual or automated polishers. 

Knowing When Scratches Are Too Deep

If you’ve exhausted DIY efforts without improvement, the scratches could simply be too severe for amateur removal.

For glasses with excessive scratching, replacement lenses are realistically needed to properly restore optical clarity and function.

How to Prevent Lens Scratches 

While scratched lenses can sometimes be repaired, prevention is more prudent to save money and hassles. 

Here are some tips on how to avoid scratching your glasses:

Using Protective Cases

Get into the routine of always placing glasses into a quality protective case when not being worn. Don’t casually toss them wherever. 

Sturdy cases shield the lenses from getting scuffed by other objects floating around bags, compartments, purses, and drawers. Some come with microfiber linings to further isolate the lenses.

Note that cases benefit from occasional interior cleaning to keep contained dust or particles from gratings lenses. 

Be sure to store your case in a safe dry location like bedside drawers. Never leave your case inside a hot parked vehicle!

Always Grab by the Frame

Be extra mindful of where and how you grip glasses when placing them down or handing them off to others. 

Never touch the lenses directly with your fingers. Oils, dirt, and skin moisture can stain coatings when imprinted by fingerprints. 

Instead, exclusively hold glasses by the frames to move them around. 

Also, avoid setting glasses down on unsafe surfaces. And don’t try placing oversized glasses inside shallow sunglasses cases if you wish to avoid scratches.

Lastly, never carelessly lay glasses facing down.

Protecting Glasses From Kids and Pets

Since kids and pets can be rough on glasses, take preventative measures to reduce accidents. Teach children how to properly handle eyeglasses and not to touch the lenses. When glasses aren’t being worn, store them out of reach from kids and pets who may play with them.

Avoid wearing costly prescription glasses when interacting with pets who could scratch them. Remove glasses when around rambunctious animals prone to jumping or swatting.

Adding Protective Lens Coatings

When ordering new prescription lenses, request anti-scratch coatings. These protective surface treatments involve applying specialty compounds during manufacturing. They leave a transparent buffer layer that causes glasses to slide instead of scratch when bumped or rubbed. 

Quality modern anti-scratch coatings also resist oil, moisture, and dust.

While not impenetrable shields, the best anti-scratch lens treatments provide substantial scratch protection under normal wear. They will cost extra but help safeguard lens clarity and durability. 

Anti-reflective coatings similarly prevent superficial scratches by creating super smooth lens surfaces.

Choosing Durable Scratch-Resistant Lens Materials

Discuss lens options in terms of scratch resistance when selecting new glasses. Glass lenses are highly scratch-proof but heavier and shatter-prone. 

Plastic CR-39 and polycarbonate can be formulated for enhanced surface hardness to prevent scratching. Trivex plastic also resists scratches better while being thin, light, and impact-proof.

Wrapping Up

Glasses inevitably accumulate scratches, but prevention habits like using lens cases, handling carefully, adding protective coatings, and selecting resilient lens materials can extend how long they remain functional before needing to be replaced.

If vision seems compromised by scratched lenses, replacement provides the only sensible path back to clear sight, assuming you’ve exhausted all of the above-mentioned DIY options.