Will my glasses break in sub-zero conditions?

Eyeglasses and Sub-Zero Temperatures: Understanding Durability in Extreme Cold

For those living in or traveling to extremely cold climates, a common concern is how well their eyeglasses will withstand sub-zero temperatures. Glasses are not just vision aids but essential daily accessories, and their performance in extreme conditions is a valid concern. Let’s explore the impact of sub-zero temperatures on eyeglasses and how to manage this challenge.


1. Material Matters in Cold Weather

  • Metal Frames: Metal frames can become brittle and more prone to snapping in cold temperatures. However, certain metals like titanium are more resistant to cold-induced brittleness.
  • Plastic Frames: Acetate or plastic frames can also become brittle in extreme sub-zero temperatures. They may lose some flexibility, increasing the risk of breakage.

2. Lens Durability in Extreme Cold

  • Glass Lenses: Glass lenses are more susceptible to cracking in sub-zero conditions, particularly if there’s a sudden temperature change.
  • Plastic Lenses: Polycarbonate and other plastic lenses are generally more resilient in cold weather, offering better resistance to low temperatures.

3. Thermal Shock and Its Effects

  • Sudden Temperature Changes: Moving quickly from a sub-zero environment to a warm one can cause what’s known as thermal shock. This sudden change can stress the materials of your glasses, leading to potential damage.

4. Tips for Protecting Your Glasses in Cold Weather

  • Gradual Temperature Changes: Try to minimise the abruptness of temperature changes when possible.
  • Proper Storage: When not wearing your glasses, store them in a protective case. This can help buffer rapid temperature changes.
  • Choose the Right Material: If you’re frequently in sub-zero environments, consider eyewear made from materials known for their cold resistance, such as titanium frames and polycarbonate lenses.

5. Regular Maintenance and Checks

  • Frequent Adjustments: In cold climates, regularly check the fit and screws of your glasses, as materials may contract in the cold, loosening screws and fittings.


While eyeglasses can be affected by sub-zero temperatures, understanding the properties of different materials and taking appropriate precautions can significantly mitigate these risks. Choosing the right materials and ensuring regular maintenance can help your glasses withstand the challenges of extreme cold, ensuring clear and comfortable vision in any weather.


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