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Glasses Care

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How to Repair Glasses

Many minor eyeglass repairs can be done at home. When eyeglasses are severely damaged, a professional should make repairs, because damaged or poorly repaired glasses can result in impaired vision. However, it often isn’t possible to visit a vision center immediately. There are many ways to repair glasses well enough to last until professional repairs can be made or the eyeglasses can be replaced.

The front piece and temples of eyeglasses are joined by hinges, which are held in place with tiny screws. Over time, the screws tend to work loose from their settings. Sometimes they even fall out entirely, and the eyeglass frames fall apart. Tightening the screws will improve the fit of the eyeglasses, which will enhance the wearer’s vision. Tightening the hinge screws is easy because they are like any other screws. The only tricky part is finding a screwdriver tiny enough to do the job. Inexpensive optical repair kits that include the necessary screwdriver and replacement screws can be found at most drug counters. Some kits also contain a small magnifying glass.

The bridge -- the part of the eyeglass frame that goes across the nose -- is especially vulnerable to breakage. It’s difficult to repair eyeglass bridges permanently, but a temporary repair is quite easy. One method is simply to wrap the bridge in tape, and wear it that way until the eyeglasses can be replaced. It is an adequate method, but the results are not comfortable to wear, and the bulky tape may block the wearer’s vision. A better method is to glue the pieces of the bridge together with a hot glue gun or a cyanoacrylate glue (like Superglue). Be sure to keep the glue away from the lenses.

A temporary method of repairing plastic frames is to soften the broken edges over boiling water. Push a short pin into one edge, and then push the other edge onto the pin. Smooth the plastic while it is still soft from the heat. Never put plastic eyeglass frames over a flame.

The temple pieces of frames receive a lot of pressure, so they are stress points likely to break. Temporary repair methods include using tape or hot glue. As with the bridge, it is possible to soften the broken edges of plastic frames and join them with a pin. It’s also possible to temporarily replace the temple piece with one taken from another pair of glasses. Just unscrew the hinge, remove the old temple, and screw the new one into place.

Scratches on eyeglass frames won’t reduce the wearer’s vision, but they can be unsightly. If the frames are plastic and the dye goes all the way through the plastic, scratches can be buffed out with a fine nail file. A good plastic polish will do the job, too. Scratches in metal frames can be minimized with jewelry polish.

Deep scratches in lenses can’t be removed without damaging the corrective value of the lenses. However, if the scratches are small and really only in the anti-reflective coating, they can sometimes be repaired. Wax polish will fill in the scratches and gentle buffing will smooth the surface. Stripping the coating off the lenses is also possible. Most gritty cleansers will do that -- even toothpaste. Many coatings will dissolve in acetone, too.

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