If you wear glasses chances are you've been in the nasty situation of having your glasses break. It's possible you stepped on them, they fell onto something hard, the dog ate them or they were just getting old and snapped. No matter how it happened you have an issue because you need those things to see. I always recommend that people have a back up or spare pair of glasses for situations like this but I know from personal experience that glasses seem to break at the worst possible time and usually when you don't have a spare pair.
The first question everyone asks is "Can this be fixed?" The answer is frustrating because it really depends on what type of damage has happened. We generally need to see the frame to know if we can do a quick repair, whether we need to order in parts or if the glasses are a lost cause.
Before I mention some common breaks and what we can and cannot do about them here are some things we cannot do and some things you shouldn't do.
Things we can't do
Sometimes when a frame breaks people wonder if they can use their same lenses in a new frame. Generally this is a really bad idea. Lenses are set into your frame in a very specific way so that the optical centre of the lens lines up with your pupil. In the process of cutting a lens down and putting it into a new frame this is unlikely to line up properly and will lead to poor vision and eye strain. The frame chosen also needs to be the same size and shape or smaller in order to insert the lenses and this often restricts you to frames that don't actually fit you well. For a progressive (no line bifocal) it's essentially impossible to reuse the lens without cutting off the reading portion and having the lenses sit at the wrong height, angle and distance between the eyes resulting in terrible vision at all distances, distortion and eye strain.
Things you shouldn't do
Never, ever, ever super glue your frame. If you have a warranty on your frame and you use super glue the warranty will be void. Please don't do this. I would much rather you didn't have to pay for your repair and I bet you'd rather not pay either.
And now for those common breaks and what we can and cannot do.
The temple or 'arm' of the frame has broken off
If the arm of the glasses has come off it might just be a missing screw. If that's all it is we can fix that very easily for you and at no charge! If it looks like the picture below where the screw is still in place and the metal itself has snapped we would have to order in a new arm to fix it. If the frame is older and has been discontinued then unfortunately there isn't anything we can order. In a case like this we do have special shrink wrap that can be used to solidly hold the arm in place (it's much, much better than tape, I promise) but you won't be able to bend the arm anymore and it will be obvious that there's shrink wrap on your glasses. It's not perfect but it is a solution that allows you to still wear your glasses until you are able to get new glasses.
The arm has snapped in half or the frame has broken in the middle or around the lens
This is a nasty one. If the frame is metal, but not titanium, it can be soldered back together but the break remains a weak point and may break again. If the frame is plastic or titanium there is no way to repair it and a new part needs to be ordered. If the break is right in the middle over the nose we can use shrink wrap to temporarily hold it together but there is a good chance you will look like you starred in the Revenge of the Nerds. If the frame is older it again may have been discontinued and the part may not be available.
The nose pads have broken off or are missing
If the nose pad itself (the clear plastic oval) is missing or has broken off that's an easy repair. We have lots of nose pads and even the tiny nose pad screws in our office so there's no need to suffer by having the metal part dig into your skin. We don't charge for this type of repair so there's no reason not to get it fixed! If the metal part is broken (that's the upside down U shaped part that connects the nose pad to the rest of the frame) it can be soldered if it's metal but not titanium though this is difficult. For most metal frames and all titanium frames a new piece needs to be ordered assuming the frame has not been discontinued.
At our office we really, really hate it when a frame breaks and we can't get parts anymore because it's been discontinued. We don't carry discontinued frames and all of our frames come with at least a one year warranty for manufacturer's defects (meaning don't run it over with your car and expect the manufacturer to replace everything at no charge but anything reasonable is covered). It's also important to keep in mind that 'old' is relative. Often a frame that is only 1 or 2 years old is 'old' in the frame world and may have been discontinued (much like if you bought a sweater you really liked and two years later it ripped. If you went to get same sweater there would be a good chance it's not made anymore).
There are going to be situations where you might come in with a frame you bought elsewhere or even one you got from us that cannot be repaired because the parts are no longer made. We will always work with you to find a solution no matter what the situation is and no matter where you bought the frame. We don't want to leave you high and dry (and visually impaired)!