Whether your lenses are scratched beyond repair or they're just outdated, replacing them doesn’t mean a trip to the optometrist. You may find, however, that getting the old lenses out of the frame can test your sanity. Luckily, plastic frames have a bit of flexibility, which means you don’t have to be a world-class wrestler to extract the lenses from their plastic grip. Just calm your fears, pick up those frames, and put a little muscle into it.
Open a soft, microfiber cloth and lay it on a flat surface. Place the plastic frames on top of the cloth with the lenses facing downward.
Examine the back of the lenses and the sides of the frame for small screws that may be holding the lenses in place. These lens screws are not the same as the ones that hold the arms on. Not all plastic frames have screws.
Remove the screws, if present, using an eyeglass screwdriver and turning the screws counterclockwise. This may take a bit of effort, especially if this is the first time the screws have been removed. Set the screws aside in a safe location.
Plug in a hair dryer and set it to the medium heat setting. Turn the hair dryer on and hold it 6 inches away from the frames. Direct the heat at the frame area surrounding one of the lenses by moving the dryer around it in a continuous motion. Continue heating the frame for four to five minutes.
Turn off the hair dryer and set it aside. Grasp the frame in both hands with your two thumbs in the center of the back of the lens. Push firmly to pop the lens out of the plastic frame. If the lens does not pop out easily, do not force it.
Fill a sink with water that is the temperature of a hot bath. Insert the frames and let them soak for two or three minutes to further soften them. Remove the frames, towel dry them, and pop the lenses out from the back using your fingers.
Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.