In today’s economy, finding ways to save money has become important to almost everyone. As company budgets are trimmed and employee benefits watered down, many people find themselves without vision insurance or with less coverage on eyeglass repairs. Even those with good coverage may prefer home repair to going to the optometrist.

Many problems with eyeglasses are fairly simple to fix yourself. Minor scratches, bent frames, and loose or missing screws take just a little time, some inexpensive supplies, and a bit of patience to fix. Below are some of the easier and safer repairs that you can do yourself. Not all of them are ideal or permanent fixes, but they should get you through until you can or need to replace your eyeglasses.

Removing Scratches from Eyeglass Lenses

The first thing you need to do, before trying to remove any scratches from your lenses, is determine whether they have any anti-glare coating. This will dictate how you should go about trying to remove the scratches. To do this, hold your glasses up to the light at an angle. An anti-glare coating will cause a greenish tint to show on your lenses.

If your lenses are coated with an anti-glare material, you can try using a product called Armour Etch, which is inexpensive and easily found at craft stores. You’ll also want to pick up an eyeglass lens polishing kit, which you can find at most drugstores or supercenters. These are also quite inexpensive and good to have on hand.

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If you do have an anti-glare coating, removing it with the Armour Etch may be sufficient. The scratch may be limited to the coating, rather than on the glass itself. The Armour Etch is an abrasive product, so use a light touch when applying it; buffing your lenses can actually reduce or change the strength of your prescription.

Apply the Armour Etch to both sides of your lenses with a cotton swab, being sure to coat them evenly. Rinse very well after five minutes and inspect your glasses. If there is still coating on the lenses, reapply the Armor Etch. If the coating and scratches are gone, you’ve saved yourself a trip to the optometrist. If the coating is gone, but the scratches are still there, you’ll need to try the lens polishing kit.

Use the polishing cream or spray that comes with the kit to evenly coat your lenses on both sides. Then gently buff the lenses with the soft cleaning cloth that’s included. You’ll need to be a little forceful, but take care to be as gentle as possible so that you don’t further damage your lenses. Repeat this process as often as needed, until the scratches are gone.

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Replacing a Missing Screw

Losing one of the screws from a pair of eyeglasses is a very common issue. Fortunately, it’s one of the easiest to fix. The most efficient means is to purchase an inexpensive eyeglass repair kit from a drugstore or superstore. These usually come with at least a few screws. Some even have the tiny screwdriver you’ll need. If not, you can use one of the very small screwdrivers meant for computers.

If you don’t have an eyeglass repair kit or you need a quick fix to last until you can purchase one, some thin wire and pliers will do the trick. It’s helpful to have a friend help you align and hold the holes in the earpiece and lenses together while you make the repair. Just snip off a piece of wire with the pliers, slide it through both holes and twist shut with the pliers.

You can then trim the twisted ends with the pliers to make the wire less noticeable or likely to scratch you. If you can’t find any thin wire, the wire from a spiral notebook will work in an emergency.

You can also try sealing the spot where the lenses and earpiece join with a few drops of super glue, but you may have difficulty separating them to replace the screw later.

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Repairing Bent Eyeglass Frames

If you’ve bent your eyeglasses, either one of the earpieces or the frames themselves, try one of these fixes:

For Metal Frames: Use soft pliers to very carefully bend the frames back into place. Before applying the pliers, protect your lenses with a soft cloth to keep from scratching them. Use very small, incremental bends until the frames are once again straight. You don’t want to over do it, as bending the frames back and forth will weaken and possibly break them.

For Plastic Frames: Use steam heat to soften the frames and make them more pliable. A pot or bowl of simmering water will work. Wipe off the excess moisture with a cloth, and then gently use your hands to bend the frames back into place.

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Repairing Broken Eyeglass Frames

The first thing you should do is check to see if the frames are actually broken or if the hinge is just bent. If the hinge is bent, cover the tips of small pliers with duct tape to avoid scratching your glasses and gently bend the hinge back into place.

If the hinge is actually broken, use a toothpick to carefully apply a few drops of superglue to the break. Hold both pieces together firmly for about 60 seconds or until completely dry.

If the earpiece itself has broken, you can repair it the same way. Use care when taking your glasses off or putting them on, as this is not a long-term fix.

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Replacing Broken, Dirty, or Missing Nose Pads

Nose pads frequently break off, wear down, or become dirty. Most eyeglass repair kits contain replacement pads. These are quite easy to replace, but will require a careful hand. If you’re removing old nose pads, use the screwdriver from the kit to carefully and slowly turn the screws on the nose pads counter-clockwise. Set these aside carefully so that they aren’t lost.

Clean the brackets well, as these can become quite corroded and are hard to clean when the nose pads are in place.

Line up the new nose pad with the bracket, insert the screws that came in your kit, and gently screw clockwise into place. Be careful not to screw them too tightly, as this could strip them.

Repairing damaged or broken eyeglasses may take some patience and a couple of small purchases, but the time and money saved will be well worth your while.

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