Cleaning coated safety eyewear: silicone vs. non-silicone

Can lens cleaners with silicone harm anti-reflective or hard coatings on safety eyewear?

Answered by Rita J. Widner, sales supervisor, Bausch & Lomb, Rochester, NY.

Let us start by explaining why a user would use silicone vs. non-silicone lens cleaners. Silicone lens cleaners are used in environments where increased anti-fogging and/or anti-static protection is required. Non-silicone lens cleaners are used in environments requiring product purity and/or prohibiting silicone. As with any cleaner, any debris on the lenses must be removed before cleaning to ensure the eyewear is not scratched.

Reactions to lens cleaners may include, but are not limited to, streaking, cloudiness and staining of the coating. There is no real way to tell what type of coating is on the lenses by visual inspection. When unsure of the coating the user should contact the manufacturer or a doctor to confirm the type of coating on the eyewear. Users should beware before cleaning any type of eyewear that includes a coating.

Types of coating

There are several types of coatings available for eyewear and they are becoming increasingly popular. Anti-reflective, reflective and mirror-type coatings are the most susceptible to lens cleaners of all formulations. These coatings range from a high-end vacuum-coated finish to a water-based, air-dry coating. Harsh chemicals can affect eyewear coatings over time. Therefore, the user should use a neutral pH cleaner when cleaning his or her eyewear. It is not whether the cleaner has silicone or not – it is the acidity of the cleaner that can affect coated eyewear.

If you work in an environment requiring increased anti-fog capabilities you will want to use silicone-based products. However, you will need to confirm that silicone is allowed in your facility/work environment. You also will want to confirm the cleaner you are using is a neutral pH cleaner so there will be less impact on your lenses with coatings.

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