Replacing Sunglass Lenses
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Replacing Sunglass Lenses

Can You Get New Lenses for Old Frames?

You may reach a time in the life of your sunglasses where you wish to get new lenses but keep your existing frames.

Is this possible? Yes. Is it the best approach? Maybe.

Here we’ll go through what it takes to have lenses replaced and weigh the pros and cons of replacing lenses vs. buying new sunglasses.

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When Is Replacing Lenses in Sunglasses Necessary?

Getting new sunglasses or replacing the lenses may be necessary in the following situations:

  • Scratches or Damage: If your lenses are scratched, cracked, or otherwise damaged, it’s advisable to change them.
  • Lens Discoloration: Over time, lenses can become discolored or faded, affecting their ability to provide optimal vision and protection.
  • Outdated Prescription: If you wear prescription sunglasses and your vision has changed, you’ll need to change the lenses with your new prescription.
  • Desired Lens Upgrades: If you want to enhance your sunglasses’ performance, you may consider new lenses with options like polarization or a mirror coating.
  • Personal Style: If you want to change the lens color, tint, or coating to better suit your styles, it may be worth exploring new lenses.
  • Lost lenses: If your lenses have fallen out and been lost but your favorite pair of frames is otherwise undamaged, replacing just the lenses can be a great option.

When considering replacing lenses, consult an optician or optometrist who can assess the condition of your current lenses and provide guidance based on your specific needs.

When It Is Better to Buy a New Pair of Sunglasses?

It may be better to buy a new pair of sunglasses in the following situations:

Frame Damage: If the frames of your sunglasses are damaged, bent, or broken, in most cases, it’s more practical to purchase new frames.

Outdated Style: If your current shades are outdated in terms of style or fashion trends and you no longer like their appearance, explore new designs that better suit your style.

Significant Wear and Tear: If your existing frames have undergone extensive wear and tear and are no longer in good condition, it may be better to invest in new frames.

Availability of Replacement Lenses: In some cases, new lenses may not be readily available or compatible with your sunglasses model.

Cost Considerations: Depending on the price of new lenses, it may feel more worthwhile to get brand new frames.

Evaluating these factors and consulting with an optometrist or eyewear professional can help you make an informed decision about purchasing new frames.

Is It Cheaper to Replace Lenses?

Generally, yes, although there may be costs associated with replacing your lenses that you haven’t considered.

If you are planning to insert replacement lenses in existing frames yourself, there is a high risk of damaging your frames, damaging the new lenses in the process, or both. This is especially true with vintage frames, as you may not be aware what all your prized possession has lived through.

If you are planning to have a trained optician insert your lenses, which we highly recommend, make sure you are aware of any fees to avoid surprises.

Can I Change the Lenses in My Sunglasses Myself?

While it may be tempting to attempt repairing sunglasses at home, it is not recommended.

Though it may appear simple, it actually requires expertise and experience. Mishaps during the process can damage your favorite glasses and/or the lenses.

Moreover, tampering with your favorite frames and lenses could void the original warranty. It is best to entrust lens replacement to professionals who possess the necessary skills and tools to ensure a proper fit and preserve the integrity of the sunglasses.

How Are Sunglass Lenses Replaced?

Sunglass lenses are typically replaced by professionals at optical shops or eye doctor offices. The process varies depending on the material, but experts ensure that the frames and lenses are protected during insertion and that they are properly adjusted to your face afterwards.

To find an authorized AO location near you for help, visit our locations page. Your local optical shop can order authentic American Optical lenses for you, but you can also email us at to order yourself.

Replacing Lenses in Plastic Frames

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When replacing lenses in plastic eyeglass frames, the process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Lens Removal: The old lenses are carefully removed from the frames. This may require heating the frames to soften the plastic and make it more pliable for lens removal.
  2. Frame Inspection: The glasses are inspected to make sure they are in good condition.
  3. Lens Installation: The new lenses are carefully inserted into the frames. The optician or technician ensures that the lenses sit securely and align correctly with your eyes.
  4. Glasses Adjustment: If necessary, the frames may be adjusted to ensure proper alignment and fit with the new lenses. This may involve heating and reshaping the plastic frames to match the curvature of the lenses.
  5. Frame Cleaning and Final Inspection: The glasses are cleaned and a final inspection is performed to ensure that the lenses are properly positioned, free from scratches, and are fitted to provide optimal vision.

The process may vary slightly depending on the specific frames and the technician performing the replacement. It is recommended to have lenses replaced by professionals at reputable optical shops to ensure accurate lens fitting and avoid damage to the frames or lenses.

Replacing Lenses in Metal Frames

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The process is almost identical for metal eyeglasses, but is often easier due to an eyewire screw that opens the frame rims for insertion. Nevertheless, we recommend visiting a professional optician with the proper tools and techniques to complete all of the steps above safely.

How Much Does It Cost to Put Lenses in Glasses?

Lens cost varies widely depending on things like lens material, features like polarization and other lens coatings, and whether you need prescription lenses.

To inquire about replacement lens prices from, please contact us. Please note that the AO factory does not produce prescription lenses. If you need a prescription, check with your preferred optical shop or find an authorized AO location near you on the locations page.

AO Lens Materials and Features

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AO Eyewear is proud to offer the finest sunglass lenses available. All AO lenses feature:

  • 100% UV protection
  • Anti-reflective backside coating to reduce glare
  • Oleophobic smudge-resistant coating
  • Impact-resistance (ANSI Z80.3)
  • Scratch-resistant material and hardcoat

SkyMasterTM Glass Lenses

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SkyMasterTM glasses lenses are offered in our core aviator sunglasses – the Original Pilot and General.

Glass lenses are the gold standard for optical clarity and are often preferred by vintage AO collectors.

AOLiteTM Nylon Lenses

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High-quality nylon offers far superior optics than the polycarbonate lenses so popular in sunglasses. The optics are similar to glass but the lenses are much more lightweight for lasting comfort.

Can I Get New Frames and Reuse My Old Lenses?

This question is best answered by an optical professional or eye doctor. It can be possible if you are replacing with the exact same new frames, but you will want a professional to evaluate this possibility before purchasing frames for this purpose.


While starting fresh with new frames and lenses has many advantages versus just replacing old lenses yourself, we understand there are circumstances where it is important to keep your original frames. If you have any questions about American Optical lens replacement, please contact us so we can help!

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