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Washing my Windows on the World
IBA 039 Optical Lens Wipes
Member Name: Hishyeness
IBA 039 Optical Lens Wipes
Advantages: Portable and effective.
Disadvantages: Dries a little streaky. You need a lens cloth.
Everyone has one. It's inevitable. A dictat of nature. I am talking of that particular species of annoying relative who has a woefully misguided concept of what constitutes a sense of humour, a person whose height of comedic sophistication is to put salt in your tea, stick tacks on your chair, or in my case, lick his finger and smear it on my glasses.
I have been wearing specs since I was a child, and anyone who wears them knows that keeping your "windows on the world" oil, grime and dust free can be something of a pain in the proverbials, so the last thing you need is a jolly uncle with a fat spit laden finger homing in on your visual aid with gleeful abandon.
Thankfully, my glasses were spared the peril of further jocular salivation when I put three thousand miles of distance between myself and my uncle when I moved to London in 1991, but the age old problem of keeping them clean has since led to an obsessive quest to find the perfect cleaner.
This is a harder job than one would think. Lens cloths simply smear the existing dirt around without actually lifting it off. Household cleaners are usually too abrasive, too floral or leave a residue behind. Many specialist lens cleaning sprays and wipes promise much - but rarely deliver a streak free polish, so when my wife bought me a box of Iba Optical Lens Wipes from Wilkinson's, I perused the proffered packet with a mixture of cynicism, suspicion and a slight sense of hope.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
The small 5" x 3" flip top box contains twenty-four individually wrapped wipes packaged in sets of two with a perforation so you can separate them. They are suitable for all lens types, including camera and spectacles, and can also be used to wipe computer monitors and CD's. My packet was picked up at Wilkinson's for £1.44, which works out at exactly 12p per wipe.
The package promises that they are "non-smear" and have "a unique anti-fog formula" - claims I have read before but have not delivered with other products I have used. The box does have some cautionary warnings given the chemicals in the solution, but I have never had a problem myself (i.e. - wash hands after use, avoid contact with eyes, and do not re-use).
DO THEY WORK?
The sachets tear along the perforations quite neatly and are easy to get into as there is a helpful "nick" on each to get you on your way. Inside is a moist, folded rectangular wipe that opens out to a decent size - it doesn't have the strong acrid odour of alcohol I usually associate with products like this and actually smells quite pleasant. Having ensured that there was no grit on my lenses (to avoid scratches) I gave them a good old wipe and held them up to the light for a critical inspection.
Result? Not bad - but not perfect. All of the oily deposits were gone, and, as advertised, the glasses were smear free. However, the quick drying solution does leave streaks on the lenses, which I carefully and gently wiped away with a lens cloth (the type they give you for free at good opticians).
The wipe is robust, and stays moist for a good few minutes before the solution evaporates. Ever on the look out for extracting as much value as possible from my products, I used the same wipe on my PC's LCD screen, my Nintendo DS and my Blackberry as well - with pleasing results on each.
I had occasion to test its anti-fog qualities when my wife asked me to open the dishwasher to retrieve a fish slice shortly after it had finished its cycle. Anyone with specs knows what usually happens next. Although my glasses misted up almost instantly, they also de-misted quicker than usual - so while not a total success, it did provide an appreciable benefit.
I am very fussy about dirt on my glasses, which I find to be quite distracting - hence my determination to find a decent, portable solution that doesn't involve shirt tails, ties, dinner napkins and washing up liquid. Provided I have a lens cloth handy (which I invariably do) the Iba Optical Lens Wipe has proved to be the best available product for my needs. It's versatility, value for money and effectiveness make it a qualified winner.
© Hishyeness 2009
Summary: A useful product that does the job, but needs some help.