What is the green on my metal glasses frame?

Metal Frame Woes: Unraveling the Mystery of Green Discoloration

If you’ve ever owned a pair of metal-framed glasses and noticed a greenish tint developing, you’re not alone. This phenomenon, while perplexing, is quite common. Let’s delve into why metal frames can turn green and how to handle it.


1. The Chemistry Behind the Green Hue

  • Oxidation: The primary culprit for the green discoloration is oxidation. When metal frames are exposed to air and moisture over time, a chemical reaction occurs, leading to the formation of metal oxides or salts, which often have a green hue.
  • Skin Chemistry: Everyone has unique skin chemistry, and for some, the natural oils and acids produced by their skin can accelerate the oxidation process of the metal.

2. Material Matters

  • Copper Alloys: Many metal frames, especially cheaper ones, are made from copper alloys like bronze or brass. Copper oxidizes green, which explains the discoloration.
  • Nickel and Stainless Steel: While less prone to oxidation than copper, these materials can still experience discoloration due to skin chemistry or environmental factors.

3. Preventive Measures To Stop The Green

  • Proper Storage: Store your glasses in a dry, cool place. Prolonged exposure to moisture can exacerbate the oxidation process.
  • Regular Cleaning: Clean your glasses regularly with a soft cloth. This helps to remove any oils or sweat that may contribute to the chemical reaction.
  • Consider Frame Material: If you often face this issue, consider opting for frames made of materials less prone to oxidation, like titanium or coated metals.

4. Dealing with Existing Discoloration

  • Professional Help: If your frames have discolored, an optician might be able to clean them or suggest a treatment to restore their original look.
  • Replacement: In some cases, replacing the frame might be the most viable solution, especially if the green discoloration is extensive.


The green tint on metal frames is a natural outcome of the metal’s interaction with the environment and your skin. Understanding this phenomenon can help in choosing the right frames and caring for them properly. Remember, a little bit of care can go a long way in keeping your frames looking as good as new.


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