How to remove coatings from prescription eyeglasses

Updated November 21, 2016

Prescription eyeglasses are routinely coated to enhance both the appearance and the performance of the lenses. Anti-reflective coatings cut down on glare, scratch-resistant coatings help protect the lens from scrapes and scuffs; those who live in cold climates may want anti-fogging, while those who live in sunny spots might prefer a UV coating. These treatments are applied to the surface of the lens and over time they can begin to peel or flake, making the eyewear unattractive. If your glasses are made with polycarbonate plastic lenses, there is a simple way to remove the coatings and restore the appearance of your eyewear.

Wrap your index finger in a square of soft cloth. Open a container of car wax and run your finger over the surface several times, collecting wax as you go. Apply the wax to the surface of the lenses, moving the cloth in small circles and effectively filling in any scratches or abrasions.

Buff the glass with a clean cloth until the surface is shiny and smooth. This will help to prevent unintentionally changing the thickness of the lenses as you remove the protective coating.

Squeeze a pea-sized dollop of glass-etching paste onto an old toothbrush. Use the brush to spread the paste evenly over the lenses. Be sure both sides of the lens are completely covered. Do not scrub the paste into the plastic.

Set the glasses on a soft towel and wait five minutes.

Mix one tsp mild liquid dish soap with two cups warm water. Stir the solution with a fork until it begins to foam. Dip the glasses into the soapy water. Shake the frames gently to wash the etching compound away.

Hold the glasses by the frames. Place the lenses under a stream of warm running water to remove the soap residue. Wipe the lenses dry with a soft cloth. If any coating remains, repeat the process.


Glass-etching compound can be found at major craft supply stores.


Do not use this procedure on glass lenses.

Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloths
  • Car wax
  • Glass-etching paste
  • Toothbrush
  • Liquid dish soap
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About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.