Accessibility View Close toolbar

Glasses - Scratches and Smudges

Taking proper care of your glasses will ensure that you have the least amount of scratches possible. This article does not discuss the wide array of materials available, which may appear in another article at a later time. Instead, this article is only for the purpose of discussing how and why scratches appear on your lenses.

First of all, lets talk generally about the materials available for your lenses. Basically, lenses fall into two broad categories (1) glass, and (2) non-glass.


Glass was the first material available for lenses. The primary benefit of glass is that it does not scratch under normal circumstances, making it a great material for people who are around high dust areas. For patients currently with glass lenses, we do not recommend changing to plastic lenses because of the care involved. Glass is a much heavier material and cannot be used for rimless and drill mount frames. If you have glass lenses and want to reuse your frame, your frame must be sent to the lab, just lenses cannot be ordered. Additionally, anti-reflective coatings can be added to glass lenses, but not very successfully. Coatings do not adhere well to glass.


This is a very broad category and new materials are being developed and introduced into the market virtually every day. For the purpose of this discussion, however, anything other than glass for lenses has the following con: if not properly cared for, the lenses will scratch. On the other hand, as shown on the chart below, the pros are much greater:



Scratch resistant




Impact resistant


Can be used in any frame, including rimless and no-frame


Coatings, such as anti-reflective, adhere better


Large selection of progressive lenses,allowing more customized lenses


Welding material bounces off


Unless you are one of the few that have been wearing glass lenses for years, your lenses will be made out of some type of plastic/polycarbonate, which means the lenses can, and most likely will, scratch.

What about scratch resistant coatings?

There are scratch resistant, not scratch proof, coatings available. As far as I know, the only material that does not scratch is diamonds. We offer a scratch resistant coating called “Clarity Shield" which is a tough, durable, 2-sided application. The lenses are put through a process which applies multiple layers under pressure in a vacuum, which make the plastic lenses far more scratch resistant than plain plastic.There are also available anti-reflective coatings, which are comprised of a seven-layer application of coatings, the base of which is a great scratch resistant coating.

For just a little bit more money than Clarity Shield, you can purchase EX3, a superior anti-reflective coating, which not only protects your lenses from scratches, but also repels dust, fingerprints, water, and cuts down glare during night driving, from overhead lights, and from computers. We also sell the Crizal line of anti-reflective coatings. At the time of your appointment, we will go over, in detail, the pros and cons of each anti-reflective.

Why do my lenses have scratches?

There often is no clear reason. What we can offer here are what causes scratches and let you decide if you have been doing something that is causing an inordinate amount of scratches. First of all, ALL non-glass lenses will scratch. Again, only diamonds don't scratch. Second, while the above-mentioned coatings help with scratches, the coating must be cared for in a specific way or the coating will soften, increasing the possibility of scratching.

Taking the best care of your lenses

Whether or not you have had problems with your lenses in the past is inconsequential. Because lenses are changing every day, you cannot expect new lenses to perform like lenses you had five years ago. Hopefully, if you have had problems with scratches, the following information will make a difference:

Dust and Cars and the Greatest Mistake Made

If you had a new car sitting in your driveway, and it was covered with dust, would you go out with a dry towel and wipe off the dust? Hopefully not. For those of you that have had that experience, you know that you just permanently marred your new paint job. Rubbing a dry towel over dust turns it into sand paper. This is also true of your lenses.

Rule #1 - Never wipe your lenses dry - in other words, always be sure you wet the lenses with the appropriate spray, or run the lenses under water (this can be a pond, a trough, a water fountain, any wet source, but not hot water). Wiping lenses while dry is often the #1 reason for scratches.

Rule #2 - Never use paper towels, tissues, or toilet paper. These are wood by-products, and even though they feel soft, they still contain wood fibers and can cause scratches over time. Think of paper products as being wood byproducts, which come from trees, so picture yourself using bark to clean your lenses. Even avoid rough cotton towels.

Rule #3 - If you have a scratch resistant coating or anti-reflective coating, do not use window cleaner or the prepackaged towelettes, even if they say they are for anti-reflective lenses. We have found that any products containing alcohol (such as the towelettes) can soften the coatings. Often, when there are scratches on lenses with coatings, the scratches are in the coatings and not the lenses. Once the coating becomes soft, rubbing it with anything to clean it can cause the coating to scratch. Also avoid ammonia or other harsh chemicals. The best you can do is simply use mild dish soap and warm water. Keep in mind that these coatings are specific to eyeglasses. Certain cleaners work on windshields and mirrors because they do not contain these kind of coatings. When in doubt, don’t. A quick way to determine if your cleaner has alcohol in it, is to use your nose. If it smells like window cleaner, it has alcohol in it and should not be used. DON'T ASSUME that your eyeglass spray doesn't have alcohol in it - smell it to be sure!

Rule #4 - Do not lay your glasses on the lenses. Even gently laid, the action of putting them down and picking them up can scratch over time.

Rule #5 - If you carry your glasses in your pocket or a pocket case, make sure the pocket or case is fully open so that the lenses are not rubbed against the opening.

Rule #6 - Again, specifically with coatings, do not leave your glasses around heat sources, such as on the dash board, or even lean over hot coals or a hot grill while wearing them. Exposing the lenses to constant, intense heat can “craze” the lenses which will make it impossible to see through them.

Rule #7 - If you often scratch your eyes without removing your glasses, your fingernails may be scratching the backside of your lenses. When scratching your eyes, either raise up your glasses or remove them.


Do you have glasses that you just can't keep clean, or seem to smear no matter what you do? Most likely the culprit is something most of us use on a regular basis - fabric softener. Any cloth you use to dry your glasses with should be washed and dried without fabric softener. If your cloth has been washed and/or dried with fabric softener, then you are just smearing the softener over your lenses again, again, and again. The best way to take care of your cleaning cloth is to wash it frequently (remember, it absorbs all the dirt and body oil from your lenses) with just soap and water (soap cuts any body oil), and then hang over the sink or somewhere to air dry. You may put your cleaning cloth in the wash, as long as you don't use fabric softener. Some detergents also contain fabric softener in with the soap, so be careful what soap you use. Also, if you sit at the computer, and use your shirt to clean your glasses, if that shirt has been washed with fabric softener, then guess what? Smeared lenses. This should help your smear and smudge problems.


You may think after reading this that you have to treat your lenses with kid gloves. Not really, just be careful and your lenses should last a long time. We know you spent a lot of money on your lenses but that doesn’t make them tough. Just like that new paint job on your car, if its not taken care of properly, the surface will be ruined, even though you paid a lot for it.We hope this article has helped. As always, we welcome your questions.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter!

Sign up now


Find us on the map

Office Hours

Our Regular Schedule


9:00 am-1:00 pm

2:00 pm-5:00 pm


9:00 am-1:00 pm

2:00 pm-7:00 pm




9:00 am-1:00 pm

2:00 pm-5:00 pm


9:00 am-1:00 pm

2:00 pm-5:00 pm