So many thoughts went through my mind as I watched Netflix’s delightful rom-com Always Be My Maybe: “I need to go to the Korean spa for a scrub-down stat.” “I’m pretty sure six of my high school friends had that same Toyota Corolla.” “Okay, Keanu Reeves in headphones might just have to be my next Halloween costume.”
And then there was this prevailing question. It’s one that people across my social media feeds have been asking. That is: “Where does Ali Wong find her amazing glasses?”
BuzzFeed did a little investigating and discovered that the stand-up comedian uses a trick: She converts sunglasses into prescription glasses.
Eyewear brand Barton Perreira Nash confirmed on Twitter that the frames of Wong’s iconic red-rimmed glasses—which she wore both in her stand-up special Baby Cobra and on ABC’s Black Box—are from their past sunglasses collection.
As a fellow bespectacled lady, this opens up possibilities I hadn’t imagined. It turns out that converting sunglasses to prescription clear lens glasses can be a great option for those who want a wider selection of frames or who wish to save some money by upcycling a pair of shades they already own.
But before you go and pop out the lenses of your favorite vintage cat eye specs, here are some things you should know.
What type of sunglasses work best?
Not all sunglasses can be turned into prescription glasses. The $10 plastic shades that you grabbed from the drugstore aren’t strong enough to hold prescription lenses, and opticians probably won’t work with them. You should start with high quality frames—those made with cellulose acetate propionate or blended nylon can be good options because they’re more flexible types of plastic. If you’re going with metal, you might opt for titanium, monel or beryllium frames.
At the very least, there either needs to be a screw in the frame to remove the lens or the lenses need to easily pop in or out. Your best bet is to visit a licensed optician to see if your sunglasses are well-suited to become prescription glasses.
How do you convert them?
Your licensed optician should be able to create prescription lenses and insert them into your frames, but ask to make sure they’ll do it.
A more convenient and likely cheaper option is to send your sunglasses to a company called Lensabl, which will put new lenses into almost any pair of shades (they’ll provide you with a postage-paid box to mail them in, too). Lenses start at $77, though bifocals and other more complicated prescriptions will cost you more.
Now the only remaining question is: Aviators or Wayfarers?