Armour Etch

Plastic lens revival

The last time I got glasses, I let the salesman talk me into the UV/Anti-Glare coating, which I’d never had before. After time, the coating began to develop tiny, really fine scratches, which kept building and building. They got so bad, I was going to get new glasses — until a friend recommended Armour Etch, a glass etching cream you can get at art/craft stores like Michael’s or Dick Blick. The way it removed the coating, leaving me with a perfectly unscratched lens, was phenomenal!! I do experience a little more glare without the coating, but I can live with that — having the scratches was driving me nuts! Instead of having to spend $100+ on new lenses, I got away with spending a little over $10!

A word of caution: this acid (hydrofluoric) solution is for glass etching, so you CANNOT use Armour Etch on glass lenses; otherwise, you will literally etch and ruin your lenses. You must be certain you have plastic lenses. It should be safe on most polycarbonate lenses (it left mine completely unscathed). However, I’d only try this when you have nothing to lose. Always do a small test first, too. After applying the cream to a tiny spot, I went ahead and did the whole lens, coating each side for 1-2 minutes, rinsing, and then repeating. While I wore standard latex gloves and did this in a well-vented area, Armour Etch is designed for crafters, so it doesn’t require a fume hood or anything. Afterward, I rinsed the glasses for a few minutes under hot tap water, applied soap and water, and finally used a lens cloth. I was taking a big risk since I’d never done glass etching before and I wasn’t certain it would work. But it did, and I got a “like new” pair of glasses for just a few bucks!

-- David Gulbransen 06/19/20

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