Old Lenses

by Ariel Huang
(United States)

Q: How can I use my old lenses when the frame is no longer available?

I have two pairs of identical glasses, both left legs of frames are broken, and not parts can be replaced because the frames are no longer in production.

I would like to keep the lens, but the optician told me I will need to get a new pair. These progressive lenses have prism. So I end up have to buy a new pair, very costly.

I was hoping the manufacture will make the identical frame in metal, it was in plastic.

A: First I must congratulate you for having progressive glasses, the top of the line when it comes to lenses for all vision distances.

Second, I have to say that your problem with the old lenses is pretty common. I have clients, and I’m sure every optician has clients with this problem.

Usually, lenses outlive the frame when they are very good quality. Nowadays you can have all kinds of protective coatings that make lenses last longer as the frame (like hardening). Another version is when you change your glasses and the prescription remains the same, then you don’t need to change the lenses. Sometimes, the lenses can be expensive and are hard to get new ones every time the frame fails to deliver.

Either way, the sure thing is that you need a new frame, and the lenses are good.

As you know, the lenses are shaped for the frame you have chosen, and this is done respecting the measurements from the prescription like:

- Interpupillary distance,
- Focal point of the lens,
- The height and width of the frame (in the case of progressive glasses).

It means that if you want to change the frame and keep the lenses, you should find a frame that has the same measurements as the previous, or at most to be a little bit smaller. It is logical that you cannot put these lenses in a bigger frame; they will fall out.

In the case of monofocal lenses, it is easier to put them in a smaller frame. The shaping machine can reshape the lenses for the smaller frame, no matter that the frame is metal or plastic, considering only the interpupillary distance.

Your case is a little bit more complicated because you have progressive lenses. The measurements from the prescription must be very exact, and if you reshape the lenses, it is impossible to keep these measures.

For example, if you find a smaller frame you like, reshaping the lenses will make the close vision part and the far vision part of the lens smaller. So when you will try to read, you will have a very little part of the lens that offers you clear vision. Also, if you have astigmatism, reshaping the progressive lenses make the axis of the cylinder change, and you will not have a clear view. Same is happening with the prism.

The ideal is in the case of progressive lenses, to find a frame that has the same shape as the old one, so the lenses fit without a lot of shapings.


My advice would be like this:

Try to repair the old frame. Find new eyeglass temples for the old frame. Look for legs that fit the frame, no matter if they are different color or shape or different company, important is to fit the frame. If you don’t find them….

Try to find a frame that has the same measurements like your frame, or the most 1 or 2 millimeters smaller, but same shape so you can put the lenses in without reshaping them. It is not an easy task to find the right frame, you will have to look at a lot of them, but is the only way, the cheaper way.

Other Pages That May Interest You

Eyeglass Lenses
Progressive Lenses
Prism Lenses

Hope this helps,

Comments for Old Lenses

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Jan 15, 2015
A few more questions
by: Ariel

If you can find a similar shape of frame, where can you find the optician to have lenses cut to fit? How much will it cost and how long will it take?

Are there any special measurements need to be taken in person before the lenses cutting?

If you can not find a similar or identical shape of frame, is there a 3D frame machine or hand-made frame store available?

Thank you.

Jan 15, 2015
Old lenses
by: Arpi

Well, if you have the frame and the lenses, you will need an optician with a regular automatic grinding machine, nothing unusual.

You can go back for example to the optician that made your glasses in the first place. The price you will pay is different for each store, so you will need to ask there but I'm pretty sure is not bigger than the price for grinding the whole lens.

There are no special measurements to make because your lenses are already shaped, maybe just the interpupillary distance to make sure the lenses are mounted the right way.

About the 3D printer, I know there are a few places where they are doing frames. But I'm not sure that you will not pay more for a 3D frame that for the new frame. So consider the lower price.

I hope you got the new frame, and everything is fine.

Sep 28, 2017
old lenses need new frames
by: Anonymous

Mother is 86, bedridden with a double stroke but has broken her glasses when stroke happened. All we (my sisters and brother) want to do is replace the frames with anything that will fit to her old lenses. Sad, but we know whe will not be with us for a very long time, so new lenses are not required. What or where can I go??? PLEASE HELP.

Oct 01, 2017
Broken glasses
by: Endre


If the lenses are okay you can try to change the frame and keep the lenses.

You should find a frame that has the same measurements as the previous, or at most to be a little bit smaller at any local optical store.

Another option is Walmart or Costco Wholesale.

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