Introduction: Super Easy Glasses Repair

Picture of Super Easy Glasses Repair

I bought a pair of relatively expensive flexible frame glasses about a year and half ago.  I'm really rough on glasses which is why I splurged on the expensive but forgiving frames.  Sadly, I seem to have picked the wrong retailer and ended up with frames that looked nice but were very poor quality!

The first set of frames snapped right in the middle of the bridge about three months after I got them--still under warranty though!  The second pair snapped in the same place a couple of weeks ago, and I've been running around with broken glasses ever since.  I hate spending money on something like this, especially since the prescription is still fine and the lenses are in pretty good condition!

I've come up with a simple way to make these work until I've got a new pair, and I thought I'd share it with you all.  

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools
All you'll need materials-wise is your old pair of glasses (as long as the lenses are still good) and a pair cheap reading glasses from the dollar store.  Get the "Rimless" kind of reading glasses, where the bridge and arms are connected by screws drilled right through the lens.

For tools, you will need:
  • Mini screwdriver set
  • Dremel or drill
  • 1/16" drill bit
  • Fine tip sharpie or very sharp awl

Step 2: Disassemble the Glasses

Picture of Disassemble the Glasses

Remove all the screws from the lenses of the dollar store glasses and set them aside.  Do the same for your broken glasses.

It's important to keep track of which lens is left and right!  Most people have a slightly different prescription from eye to eye.  On the edge of the lens, in a spot I knew would be covered by the new frames, I put one hash mark for left and two for right (see the last picture below).

Thanks to my daughter for acting as photographer for this step!

Step 3: Mark and Drill the Old Lenses

Picture of Mark and Drill the Old Lenses

With a fine tip sharpie and/or very sharp awl, use the lenses from the dollar store glasses as a template to mark your old lenses.  Most likely your lenses won't be exactly the same width, but you can get a good general idea of where (and how far from the edges) to place the holes.

Carefully drill the holes.  If you've got a good sharp awl it will really help you to avoid the drill bit "walking" on the lens, which could really do some damage.  Also, drill a test hole in the cheap lens to get a feel for what you're doing!

Step 4: Reassemble

Picture of Reassemble

Now take the cheap frames and attach your good lenses!  It's pretty straightforward, though on mine I did find that I had put one of the holes too far from the edge and had to widen it. 

After everything is put back together, you'll likely need to bend the frames into shape.  One of the nice things about these cheap frames is that they bend really easy, and all it took me was five minutes in front of the bathroom mirror to fix everything up!

Step 5: All Done!

Picture of All Done!

Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps you out!  These will do nicely for a couple more weeks, and then I'll have broken down and gone to an optometrist.  After I've got my new specs, I'll put these away as my emergency glasses for the next time I break them (and believe me, I will).

If you enjoyed this or found it helpful, post a comment, leave a rating, and/or subscribe!  I love hearing from people and I've always got more projects in the works.  Also, if you post a before and after picture of your repaired glasses in the comments, I'll send you a patch!


jooly4 (author)2015-04-16

Thank you for the help. I've had to go to the Lens Doctor to have glasses repaired for me and family about five times. It costs about $45 each time we go. This is very helpful.

depotdevoid (author)jooly42015-04-16

Glad I could help!

Keithr606 (author)2013-01-25

Thanks for doing this instructable. If you don't profit from it you have nothing to worry about. If those folks that are worried about seeing right don't do it. Take them to to your local optometrist.
I like this myself.

depotdevoid (author)Keithr6062013-01-25

Thanks, I'm glad you like it! I don't know what the big deal is anyway, it's not like I'm recommending this as a permanent replacement for professionally made glasses.

PyRex (author)2011-05-30

If you are using a dremel you may be going to fast. A slow speed is better for these types of themoplastics. To properly drill you should practice a few holes with a HSS drill bit, starting with about 350 rpm and playing with how much pressure you apply until you get long spiral chips. Once you can get these chips to form regularly you should be ready to drill you lenses without them fowling up the drill bit. I hope this helps!

depotdevoid (author)PyRex2011-05-31

Interesting, I didn't realize slow was the way to go. My prior experience with drilling hard plastics has always lead me to believe that going slow tends to be bad, but I'll take your word for it. Next time I have to do this, I'll try it slow!

joffler (author)2010-10-27

This is a fair solution for folks without astigmatism but I'd caution against this for astigmats. I can tell you a lot of people have astigmatism and a lot of astigmats have no idea they have astigmatism. For astigmatism, the lenses must be rotated to the proper degree or "axis". Your Rx will have a prescription in algebraic form such that there will be a diopter value for "sherical", a diopter value for "cylinder" and a degree value for "axis". If your prescription only has values for "sherical" diopters, then this solution may work for you. Otherwise you're an astigmat and if the axis is off, this could result in distorted vision, an inability to focus, fatigue and headaches. For a quick and easy check to see if you've got astigmatism, take your glasses off, hold them in front of your face, focus on an object you can see through a lens and rotate the glasses clockwise or counterclockwise slowly. If the object you're focusing on begins to distort in shape, you're an astigmat. Be sure to check both lenses independently as some folks may have astigmatism in one eye only. For the record, I'm not a licensed optician but used to be one while going through college.

milltools (author)2010-05-13

Dude you better watch yourself with that design. That came out in the late 70's by Mr. Navin R. Johnson , it's called the Opti-Grab. 

gerry_49 (author)milltools2010-10-14

LMAO That's all I could think of when I saw the glasses.

Good thing it's OK to copy a patent as long as one doesn't profit from

depotdevoid (author)milltools2010-05-13

Oh my God . . . I can feel my eyes crossing just thinking about it.  I smell a lawsuit!

Tankobu (author)2010-09-11

Good fix. I was trying to match the my original lense shape to some cheap sunglass frames. It wasn't a perfect match...but I wasted $15 on this repair. I'll try this method. Thanks for sharing.

depotdevoid (author)Tankobu2010-09-11

Thanks, I hope it works out for you! Post a picture when it's done and I'll send you a digital patch.

frostwirm (author)2010-08-31

The Tucker car was too good, so he went out of business. I had some flexible frame glasses that had a flexible bridge, but they broke at the hinges

lancelot (author)2010-05-13

I tried using JB Weld... of course it's not for this type of thing.... Never thought of doing this.... but am heading to a Dollar Store soon!!  Thanks!!

depotdevoid (author)lancelot2010-05-17

Great, glad I could help!

kedwa30 (author)2010-05-16

 One reason why everything from Epoxy to solder wouldn't hold could be if the surface was not clean enough or was too smooth. Solution: sand the area with fine grit sandpaper and wipe it clean with a micro-fiber cloth. The dollar store has some good deals on micro-fiber cloths. I like the small ones that are two for a dollar.  Only expensive paper towels don't leave behind lint, but a dozen micro-fiber cloths can replace a year's worth of paper towels, saving you money as well as being nicer to the environment. 
I wonder why the expensive flexible frame glasses wouldn't have the same flexible material for the bridge? Oh, I know why. Manufacturers design a weak point in all products. They need their products to break so you will have to buy more from someone. The Tucker car was too good, so he went out of business. I had some flexible frame glasses that had a flexible bridge, but they broke at the hinges. On the other hand, I've had a pair of nylon frame sunglasses since I was a kid (more than 25 years) that have been stepped on and abused, but they aren't broken! Go figure. 

Voltamps (author)2010-05-15

 If you want really cheap glasses and don't mind the work you can buy two pair of very cheap glasses, one with the prescription lenses that match one eye and the other pair that match the other eye. Make sure the frames are both the same.  Take the left lens out of both pairs and put the left lens that is good for the left eye in the pair that has the good lens for the right eye. hey presto a good pair of really cheap glasses.
If you buy glasses that have the screw together lens holders, the only tool you will need is a jewellers screwdriver.

Very well documented Ible.
Thanks for sharing

Thanks steliart, glad you liked it!

jules15 (author)2010-05-13

sweet thanks, my glasses are getting pretty weak and will probably break soon so i'll have to do this

depotdevoid (author)jules152010-05-13

Cool, I'm glad I helped out!

Alej24601 (author)2010-05-13

Mine broke in exactly the same place, and were also the flexy type...  Interesting.

Anyway, my solution was to use the clear part of a pen ink tube (The part above the ink, like out of a Bic), heat it a little so I could give it give it the right bend, fill with hot glue, and shove both ends of the bridge into it.  Worked a dream, and didn't require any modifications to the lenses or frame.

depotdevoid (author)Alej246012010-05-13

Hey, that's a good approach!  I thought of trying to reinforce and then secure it, but I've never had good luck doing that.

exabopper (author)2010-05-13

I did this once, except that I only used the bridge and not the temples, and I took off the little nose pads.  I then ended up with just the lenses fixed together without any other hardware.  Finally, I got some of those clear suction cups from a craft store, the kind that lets you hang little stained glass ornaments in a window, and affixed them to the bridge.  I stuck this whole assembly to the inside of my diving mask - instant prescription diving mask!  Dang, I need to make an 'ible about that one.

depotdevoid (author)exabopper2010-05-13

Nice, you totally should!

tangent (author)2010-05-12

 the easiest way to fix this would be to solder the pieces together as long as the frame was not made from titanium. all you need is a flame, stick of solder and a steady hand. also, after reading the comments about the 'cheap' glasses alternatives such as internet glasses all i have to say is you get what you pay for. they are an unregulated body and having an improperly pair of glasses can and will cause you all different kinds of problems. one of which is if your PD is off by only a few mm it can induce prism and make your glasses (which you got for a wicked deal btw) absolutely useless. just sayin'
tangent's optician wife

depotdevoid (author)tangent2010-05-12

I tried epoxy, gorilla glue, solder, and duct tape, and nothing really had the strength to hold them in the proper position.  Believe me, this was a last ditch effort. 

I'll be off to see an optometrist to get an eye exam soon, and I may try out this zennioptical site, as $8-30 isn't much to risk to see if they work.  Worst case scenario is that I'm out a few bucks and have to buy the new glasses locally that I was planning on buying anyway.

I particularly liked mrmath's suggestion that I buy a bunch of identical frames from Zenni and have the lenses made and fitted locally.  I'm not too harsh on lenses, but I'm clumsy and a fidgetter and always end up messing up the frames (which is why I bought the flexy frames to begin with).  

As an optician, can you tell me why the frames are always so damned expensive?  I understand that my local eye doctor can't compete price-wise with some place in China selling over the internet, but really, when the price these guys are offering is less than $8 for the frames and lenses, why does it cost $150 bucks just for frames?  I've never been one to care about designer or name brand products (they die just as quick as all the others), so why is the price disparity so high?  I'd be happy to pay 3-4 times more for something as important as this, in order to deal locally with a brick and mortar store, but if I buy my glasses here in town I guarantee I won't be walking out of there for less than $200 bucks, not even counting the eye exam.

Anyway, that's my little rant.  I know you probably don't have all the answers, I just kind of wanted your input . . . you know, if I was an optician, I'd buy a bunch of these frames for 8 bucks and offer them as a "Value Line" to my customers for 30 dollars each and make out like a bandit!

Thanks for commenting, tangent's wife!

DanYHKim (author)2010-05-12

Some types of rimless glasses have a hole and a slot to hold the hardware in place.

depotdevoid (author)DanYHKim2010-05-12

Do you mean that they connect in two places at the arm or bridge?  That's probably a better way to do it, but I wouldn't expect such redundancy in something that came from the dollar store.

Thanks for the comments Dan, I appreciate you taking an interest!

DanYHKim (author)2010-05-12

Be careful when you are bending the frame metal.  If you hold the lenses while bending the metal, they may crack, since it puts a lot of stress on the small bit of plastic that surrounds the screw hole.

Better to use small needle-nose pliers or hemostats to hold only the metal components while bending.

depotdevoid (author)DanYHKim2010-05-12

Yeah, that's another solid point.  You can see in some of the pictures that the one of the reading glass lenses had fractured at the hole.

DanYHKim (author)2010-05-12

I have had trouble drilling into polycarbonate lenses.  Your advice to use an awl to make a starting point is very good.  My drill tended to melt the plastic, rather than cutting it.  This made for an awkward hole, and the drill bit was coated with hardened plastic.

I wonder if the drilling could be done under water to keep things cool?

depotdevoid (author)DanYHKim2010-05-12

Good point about the melting plastic--I didn't have a problem with the drilling, but my drill was covered in very hard polycarbonate afterward.  I'd be wary of doing it underwater though, I don't want to accidentally get water up in my dremel.

mrmath (author)2010-05-12

If you know your prescription and Pupilary Distance, you can get good glasses super cheap online at  I have nothing to do with the website, and make no money by posting this link. Just giving you a heads up on a cheap alternative.

At the very least, you can buy 10 pairs of frames for the same price as retail, have the lenses put in locally, and then move the lenses over when the glasses break on you.

depotdevoid (author)mrmath2010-05-12

Yeah, I looked into that, but I can't read the optometrist's terrible handwriting on my old prescription papers from five years ago, and he says he can't write a new one without a new eye exam.

mrmath (author)depotdevoid2010-05-12

If you've got insurance, you should be able to get an eye exam pretty cheap. $20 or so. My coverage, however sucks. My daughter's exam cost me $50 yesterday.

Tool Using Animal (author)mrmath2010-05-12

I'll second the Zenni optical solution, love my glasses....

For eye exams, shop around,  Sam's Club is cheap, and you don't need to be a member.

You guys are pretty convincing.  I'll certainly look into it once I've had an eye exam.

Thanks for the advice!

mrmath (author)depotdevoid2010-05-12

Just had another thought.  If you didn't drill through it in this instructable, your lenses actually have the prescription in them.  You might be able to take it to an eye place and ask them to just write down your current prescription. Not give you a new one, but just write down what you currently have.

The beauty of zenni is that they are not in the US, and therefore don't require a prescription.  If you know what you have, you can order exactly that.

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