That Time I Broke My Favorite Sunglasses

How do polarized sunglass lenses work

You know those knock-off wayfarers you can find in every drugstore in about 30 colors? I have been guilty of buying them for a few years now, but I recently quit cold turkey. I have to admit that it was originally for very superficial reasons. Let’s be honest. I wasn’t fooling anyone with neon pink frames that looked like they might have been molded at the Fisher-Price factory. So, I bit the bullet and went for genuine Ray Ban wayfarers with leather frames, and I was in love.

I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t a little bit of a blow to my bank account. Straight from the manufacturer, they ran me $300. I guess that’s not super surprising, given that vision care in the U.S. generated $34.54 billion in 2012 and that Ray Ban Wayfarers are the best-selling sunglasses in history. I can confidently say, however, that those sunglasses were worth every penny– especially once I found out that they were polarized. Ray Ban was the first to produce anti glare sunglasses for the air force in World War II, and they still do it really well.

A couple months into our happy relationship, I wore them to a beach volleyball game. I don’t think the word “sad” would accurately describe the way I felt when they fell off my face and were promptly crunched by my girlfriend’s foot. “Devastated,” “horrified,” or maybe even “sickened” might be accurate, though. Luckily, it was only the one lens that broke, because it turns out that there are ways to fix that.

In 2012, nearly 100 million pairs of sunglasses were sold in the U.S., and I can’t help but wonder what that number would be if people knew that replacing sunglass lenses when they’re broken is a viable option. So, consider this your guide to replacing sunglass lenses. It’s actually pretty easy.

How to Measure Ray Ban Lens Size

I know of three ways to figure out which lenses you should order.

  1. Go back to the product page for the model you purchased. Size information is usually listed right in the product description.
  2. Look on the inside of one of the arms. There’s a series of numbers, and one of them is the lens size.
  3. Measure straight across the lens at its widest point.

Where to Order Your Ray Ban Replacement Lenses

There are also three options here.

  1. Ray Ban lens replacement straight from the manufacturer is one option, but it’s much more expensive. I couldn’t stomach it, though some people are willing to pay extra for the logo on the lenses.
  2. You can send your broken pair to a sunglass lens replacement specialist, and they’ll install new aftermarket lenses for you for an additional fee.
  3. You can order aftermarket lenses from a sunglass lens replacement specialist and install them yourself. That’s what I did.
  4. Replacing Sunglass Lenses Yourself

    Whether you order them from Ray Ban or not, installing your new lenses is probably the most challenging part of this process.

    1. Soak your glasses in hot soapy water for 30 seconds to a minute.
    2. Pull on the frames and push the lenses out through the front.
    3. Align the new lens in the frames and work your way around the outside edge, snapping it into place.
    4. Check for proper fit.
    5. Celebrate!

    Long story short, replacing the lenses in my favorite sunglasses was way easier than I would have expected, and my girlfriend doesn’t feel quite as horrible about crunching them accidentally. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I can definitely recommend replacing sunglass lenses for $50 instead of $300 on a whole new pair of sunglasses.
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