I couldn’t believe my eyes – it looked like the lenses had been cleaned with fine grit sandpaper. “So, how do you clean your glasses?” I asked. “Oh I’m REALLY careful about how I clean them!” It took some doing, but after some extensive questioning, I figured out what the culprit was.
We try to educate patients on ideal cleaning methods every time they pick up new lenses, so it is always a bit surprising to me when THEY are surprised about the recommended steps.
Here’s the deal: plastic-type lenses build up a static charge, just by the virtue of the material. That static charge attracts dust and grit out of the air, and deposits on the lens. If the dust and grit are not properly removed before rubbing the lenses, they will scratch – it’s as simple as that. If you wipe them off with your shirt – they’ll scratch. If you spray lens cleaner on them first, they will scratch. If you use the pre-moistened, single-use lens cleaning towelettes, they will scratch (yes, that giant economy box you just bought at Ginormous Discount).
So what’s a glasses wearer to do? First, whenever possible, rinse the lenses off under a tap of running water. This will flush all of the accumulated dust and grit off the lenses, and really help avoid scratching the lenses. Next, spray the front and back of the lenses with the cleaner you were given. It is specially formulated to remove facial oils without damaging any coatings the lenses may have, and often will also temporarily remove the static charge, keeping them clean longer. Some people use liquid dish soap at this point, which is OK, but the lens cleaner is better. Work the cleaner around with your fingers to help remove any fingerprints or smudges, and then rinse off the lenses.
Next blot the lenses dry with Kleenex brand tissue. Why Kleenex? It has the least amount of undissolved wood fiber of any facial tissue I have found, making them very gentle on the lenses. Blot; don’t rub, to avoid scratching. Finally, polish the lenses with the microfiber polishing cloth you got with your new glasses. That’s it!
A couple of quick tips. First, NEVER dry your lenses with terry cloth. I don’t know why, but that material is as bad as sandpaper on lenses – and was the cause for the horribly scratched lenses the patient brought in. Second, launder the microfiber cloth about once a month, and try to not use fabric softener. If you are driving, and absolutely HAVE to clean your lenses, blow off as much dust and grit as possible, and then use your microfiber polishing cloth. Finally, new anti-reflective coatings such as Hoya’s EX3 are actually more scratch resistant than glass, and come with an amazing warranty against scratching. Just in case, you know?