Your Guide to a Sunglasses Tragedy

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Sunglasses have a much richer history than you probably know of. First used in 12th century China, sunglasses were made from flat planes of smoky quartz which protected the eyes from the harmful effects of glare and malevolent spirits. Years later, the first commercial pair was produced in 1929 and sold by Sam Foster at Woolworth’s on Atlantic City Boardwalk. Their popularity extended even to the military, where Ray-Ban’s anti-glare aviators were used by the Air Force. Today, sunglasses are just as popular as ever. Men’s styles sell every 90 seconds on eBay, and about half of the entire population of Australia is equipped with shades.

When you’re looking down at your favorite pair of sunglasses, freshly busted thanks to errant pocket placement, you probably aren’t reflecting on a sunglasses history lesson, though. Instead, you’re thinking about the cost of replacing your shades. Before you pony up for a new pair, though, stop and consider an alternative. Replacing sunglass lenses is much less expensive than buying a new pair, and much easier than you may realize.

Your Options for Replacement Sunglass Lenses

You have three basic options if you’re going to replace lenses in sunglasses.

  1. Buy expensive sunglass replacement lenses from the manufacturer and install them yourself.
  2. Buy less expensive aftermarket lenses and have a professional install them.
  3. Buy less expensive aftermarket lenses and install them yourself.

Any option is viable, but the last one is certainly the most cost effective.

How Do You Measure for Sunglasses Lenses?

Before you worry about the “How do you measure for sunglasses” question, here’s a handy tip. The inside of one of the arms of your sunglasses is printed with a series of numbers. These numbers will tell you not only the model number of your sunglasses, which you’ll need, but the size of your lenses. To confirm that the number was printed correctly, measure straight across your lens at its widest point.

How Do I Replace My Lenses?

This depends on what kind of frames you have. Metal frames are a little easier to work with, but neither process is particularly difficult.

  • Metal Frames: Loosen the screws on the undersides of the arms. These hold your frames tight around the lenses. Once they’re loosened, it should be easy for you to push up on the lens while pulling out on the frames. Snap in the new lens, checking to make sure that it’s well aligned, and then re-tighten the screws.
  • Plastic Frames: Soak the sunglasses in hot soapy water for 30 seconds. Dry them thoroughly before pulling on the frame and pushing up on the lens. It should pop out, but if it seems too difficult, try re-soaking the glasses. In a worst case scenario, you can break the old lens in order to remove it. Pop in the new lens, aligning it in one area and working around the lens until it’s in place.

If you have any more questions beyond “How do you measure for sunglasses lenses?” and “How do I replace my lenses?” the vendor you work with should be able to help.

Next time you’re staring down at a pair of broken sunglasses. Take a second to consider your options. You may have more than you realize. Great references here.

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