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Why Are My Glasses Lenses Turning Yellow?

Shu Kie

Written By:

Shu Kie

Updated: 16 April 2024 •  
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Over time, you might start to notice some changes in your eyeglasses. They might start to rust, or their lenses may even start to yellow.
When that happens, it can be pretty annoying or even alarming.
Luckily, there’s no need to panic because we’re here to help you figure out what to do if your glasses lenses start turning yellow.

Why is this happening?

These are the most common reasons why your lenses turn yellow:

  • Normal wear and tear that comes with time.

  • Overexposure to sunlight.

  • Oxidation of plastic.

On that note, it’s worth remembering that some lenses have a yellow tint to begin with, depending on the type of plastic used and the purpose of the lenses. Yellow is a common color for hunting or night driving glasses. They help you see clearly on the road during nighttime, filter out blue light, and provide contrast in low-light conditions. Additionally, they help reduce glare caused by reflective surfaces.
With these glasses, you don’t have to worry as much about eyestrain, especially during the night.

How long do glasses take to yellow?

glasses lenses turning yellow

The more often you wear your eyeglasses outdoors, the quicker they’ll turn yellow.

Glasses normally start turning yellow after 2-3 years. The more frequently you wear yours outdoors, the sooner they start to yellow due to UV ray exposure and oxidation.
Fortunately, there are ways to slow down the process. Keeping your glasses away from UV rays when not in use and cleaning them on a regular basis helps with that.
Sunlight and chemicals on the surface of the lenses often cause photodegradation, so the rate of photodegradation is slowed when some of the chemicals are removed.
However, if you discover that your glasses are yellowing earlier than that, you might have purchased a pair that lacks a strong anti-UV coating. Eyeglasses usually come with one, but not all manufacturers will cover the lenses with a thick coating.

Is it a bad thing for my glasses lenses to turn yellow?

The yellowing of lenses is generally harmless. However, it doesn’t mean you should keep using your glasses, as it also means they may have declined in performance. Your lens’ coating starts to weaken and you’ll even have a harder time seeing properly and seeing true colors.
When this happens, you should speak with your optometrist and inquire about getting new glasses to protect your eyes and maybe even update your prescription.

How do I reverse the yellowing of glasses lenses?

Cleaning your glasses may help get some superficial yellowing off your glasses:

  • Apply a cleaning solution to a clean cloth.

  • Clean the lenses with the clean cloth to remove the coating.

  • Use a microfiber cloth rather than paper towels to not scratch the surface of the lenses.

  • Hold the lenses in one hand and rub them gently while using the other hand to hold the microfiber cloth.

  • Do circular movements and see if the yellowing of your lenses start to fade.

clean your glasses regularly

Cleaning your glasses regularly ensures it stays in tip-top condition for longer. Source: Gerstein Eye Institute

However, experts usually recommend changing eyeglasses immediately once the lenses start to yellow. It’s generally accepted that you cannot undo the yellowing of your lenses without seriously harming your eyeglasses. Worn-out eyeglasses can result in numerous problems such as soreness or itching of your eyes or vision problems such as double vision.
That’s why we recommend talking to your optician about getting a new pair of glasses. This could also be an opportunity to get an eye exam and update your prescription, especially if it’s been a while since your last eye test. This ensures that your glasses lenses continue to fit well and help you see well.
Additionally, you might want to get in touch with your eyewear manufacturer if your lenses turn yellow fairly quickly. If they’re still under the warranty period, you have a chance of getting your glasses replaced for free, no questions asked.
You can also check with your vision insurance provider if you’re entitled to a new pair of glasses under your plan. Usually, if you’ve worn your existing pair for more than a year, you can get a replacement or a new pair at a discounted rate.

Ways to keep glasses lenses from yellowing

Giving your glasses proper TLC is the best way to keep lenses yellowing at bay. Here are the main dos and don’ts you can easily integrate into your routine.

  • DO clean them dailyCleaning your glasses is a great way to maintain their strength and performance. Make sure to clean them regularly so they’re always in top condition. Maintaining good eyewear hygiene also helps reduce the transmission of bacteria, lessening your risk of any eye disease.

  • DO store them properlyStore your glasses in a place where they won’t fall/break easily, like a sturdy glasses case. It’s also best to keep them away from direct sunlight.

  • DON’T polish them with your clothesPolishing your glasses with clothes can seriously damage the lenses, like scratching them or eroding any protective/functional coating. Make sure to always use a microfiber cloth to clean them.


Yellow means stop (using your glasses)

To sum it up, the yellowing of your glasses is neither a good or bad thing — it’s just something that happens over time. However, like most things, you can prolong the lifespan of your glasses by taking good care of them and practicing good maintenance habits.
More importantly, the yellowing of lenses in glasses is usually a sign for you to get a new pair.
If you’re in the market for a new pair, you can check out a wide selection of eyeglasses on Mouqy. Happy browsing!

Shu Kie

Written by:

Shu Kie

Shu Kie is Mouqy’s certified optician with over 5 years of experience in the optical industry. She earned her certification from Association of British Dispensing Opticians (ABDO).