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Do I Need Anti-Reflective Coating on my Glasses?

Anti-reflective glasses are useful for those who work often on a computer.
Working on the computer for an extended time can cause eye strain.
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  • Written By: Shannon Kietzman
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 17 July 2014
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An anti-reflective coating on your glasses serves many purposes, but it does have some drawbacks. The decision whether or not to use it on your glasses is a highly personal one that should be made after weighing the pros and the cons.

For many people, an anti-reflective coating can help when driving at night. Often, individuals who wear glasses or contacts experience a halo effect around headlights and streetlights when driving in the dark. The coating eliminates this effect and can make night driving less of a distraction.

An anti-reflective coating on your glasses can also be beneficial if you spend a great deal of time on the computer. Working on a computer for an extended period of time can lead to eye strain, as your eye muscles struggle to view specific areas of the monitor and battle the glare. Typical symptoms of eyestrain while working on the computer include blurry vision, dry eyes, and irritation. A coating that reduces reflection can decrease eyestrain and make it possible to work on the computer for longer periods of time without difficulty.

Eyestrain can also happen to people who do not work on computers on a regular basis. Spending a great deal of time in a dimly lit room, for example, can lead to eyestrain. If you experience eyestrain, no matter the reason, an anti-reflective coating on your glasses may be able to help.

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Anti-reflective coating on glasses also improves your appearance, particularly when taking photographs while wearing your glasses. With glasses that do not have this coating, outside images tend to be reflected by the glasses and block out the wearer’s eyes. With the coating, your eyes are more easily seen.

On the downside, an anti-reflective coating tends to pick up fingerprints and dirt more easily than glasses without it. This results in the need to clean your glasses more often, which can be difficult if you do not have the proper cleaning tools on hand.

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Discuss this Article

anon961489
Post 53

I cannot clean my anti-reflective glasses. They are always fuzzy. Yes I have tried that and it didn't work. They are fuzzy, smeared, and now scratched. I will put them on a rope and only wear them when I have to. I hate them and they have put me through hell! The shop has done its best for me, but really haven't helped my problems. Are they genuine or is there more to these glasses than they are telling?

anon934343
Post 51

Which glasses are better -- an anti-reflective coating or a day and night coating? Please help me with this topic. I've used day and night glasses for five years and work on a computer about seven to nine hours a day, so which ones should I use?

anon344299
Post 50

Also in response to comment 30 - I purchased new frames and lenses from Lenscrafters with AR coating and have been experiencing dry eye and eyelid swelling ever since. I'm still within the 90 day window, so I'm considering going back to have them put normal lenses in to see if it helps. It's just very strange! I wouldn't think the coating could have such an effect. Anyone else care to weigh in?

anon338736
Post 48

The only thing that really bothers me is that the optometrist should be up front about the pros and cons about the coatings. I never would have bothered with the coatings if I had known about the haze that develops on the glasses. Now I am going back to the optometrist and have a little talk with them and see what they can do about it.

anon285488
Post 46

When you purchase AR coating on your eyeglasses, most of the time, it is not just AR. Unless you purchase from someone who is only interested in stealing your money. There is usually a hard coat, whether it is a dip coat or manufacturer front coat and AR Lab backside spin coat. There may (at an extra cost) also be a top coat, which is a non-stick type of coat that will reduce the adherence of dirt and fingerprints which reduces the need for cleaning and the scratches that result. A Hydrophobic top coat is usually a standard-no extra charge top coat. Other top coats are Advantage, Teflon, etc.

I have developed a top coat that will outperform any top coat on the market today. All testing was performed in a lab environment.

Test this: three-plus days underwater in the Atlantic Ocean; three-plus days -5 degrees C; three-plus days 60 degrees C.

The eye glasses will survive. Will you?

anon278058
Post 45

People should be aware that most warranties for lenses are for two years only.

anon277686
Post 44

I have had AR coatings on my glasses for almost 10 years now, and I've gotten it from various places - Costco and three different private optometrists, and never had a problem with it scratching or peeling, ever.

I've had one pair that I wore constantly for about two years and then intermittently for three years after that. The last two I've gotten were worn for two years each until I had to get a new prescription. I have to get the AR coating because without it, I end up seeing double and triple of any fluorescent light bulb that I see -- very annoying!

I do not know if I have to clean them more often than I would without the coating, since the last time I didn't have a coating, I was about 11 and I didn't have to wear them all the time anyway, so I would clean them for fun every time I had to put them on.

anon276517
Post 43

I have been wearing glasses for 50 years, and AR for just the last five or so. I can't say that I see any advantage in AR as far as clarity and less eyestrain. I do see an increased frequency in buying new glasses, as the coating wears off.

I've actually tried polishing the coating off a pair of lenses because they were becoming so cloudy. I reluctantly bought a new pair from Costco, and asked for no AR coating, and they told me they aren't available without, unless you want glass lenses. I have been treating these new lenses with utmost care, but still after just a few weeks have noticed a couple spots of missing coating. I wonder if it's all a plot to make us buy glasses twice as often.

anon247706
Post 42

I would like to correct the statement about AR lenses being prone to scratching. Yes, the original coating done several years ago can scratch rather easily. However, newer lenses are protected with a hydrophobic coating that resists dirt and oils and therefore when cleaning, they do not adhere to the lens to scratch it. So they are scratch resistant. Also, when they do scratch, you see the scratches more because there is no reflection bouncing off the lenses to distract the eye.

AR lenses are excellent in reducing headaches, dry eye, irritation, and fatigue. Not to mention people can see your eyes. Your vision will be increased up to two lines on the eye chart, and make your reaction time much better.

anon243723
Post 41

I've gone with the Crizal for the first time and I'm very impressed. Normally, I have to clean my glasses at least twice a day, but with the Crizal, I can easily go two or three days. Also, the glare reduction is great, especially for night and city driving.

Some stores will add the coating for free (Walmart and Costco) while others charge as much as $150.00 for it (Sears). Since Costco had the cheapest lenses and threw in the Crizal, and gave me a two year warranty against scratches, I went with them and so far, I could not be happier.

anon241845
Post 40

Are high definition High Density plastic (not the crapola safety glass)lenses with A/R and anti-scratch coatings worth it? Not on your life - perhaps, (if) they were made of glass and not this new, totally crappy, smudged all the time plastic crap of a new "better" material. I have had glass for over 35 years and have had them A/R coated since the inception of A/R. I loved them!

I was told and convinced that the new improved plastic ones are so much better now than glass. Not even close. They stink (you don’t want to hear what I really think). The only thing missing is Billy Mayes and that totally cool "Made In china" insignia to make me hate them more!

anon210002
Post 39

AR coating lenses stink big time. With just three weeks of use, the coating peeled. I got a replacement at a fee, and three weeks, the later same thing happens. Down with ARC.

anon198063
Post 38

Perhaps you are allergic to the nickel or metals in your frames?

anon197662
Post 37

Responding to #30: I have had extremely dry eyes and red, dry eyelids ever since I got the AR coating on my glasses -- about six months ago now. I've been to two optometrists, an opthamologist and an allergist and no one can pinpoint what's wrong with me. I have been wondering if this coating has anything to do with it. Can anyone help?

anon187376
Post 36

I'm an optical assistant at a reputable worldwide firm. I’d just like to share some information which I hope helps, since 97 percent of lenses dispensed in Japan are AR coated.

Normal plastic lenses without AR allow approx. 92-7 percent of light to pass through, the rest of which is being scattered around the lens which is why the lens looks milky whitish in the light (glare).

Lenses with AR allow about 99 percent of light to pass through the lens. Although this doesn't sound like much more, the difference is quite noticeable (cosmetically especially; the lens looks near invisible). When talking about light, I mean artificial light, e.g., computer, light bulbs etc. Polaroid lenses help with glare from natural sunlight, when driving in the day, fishing and skiing etc.

In my opinion, the benefits (cosmetics, better clarity of vision (especially when night-driving and under powerful lights), the lower chance of headaches, dry eye and eye strain to occur, due to light scatter, especially at the computer or reading in dimly lit areas where less light makes up the image resulting in harder work for the eye/brain) of AR far outweigh the negatives (showing up dirt due to lens being clearer, more cleaning, and the possibility of damage to the AR coating through heat exposure – car dashboard etc), some hairspray sticking to it and abrasive materials (tissues and dirt particles, etc.) Because the AR is usually applied after the scratch resistant treatment it, is still easily damaged due to it being quite thin.

The quality of AR coatings do vary and so does the cost. Crizal lenses (made by Essilor) are a higher quality of AR (smudge/dust/water-resistant -- not immune), but this is reflected in the price. However, it is always wise to get scratch-resistant lenses whether or not you opt for the AR. AR should be optional because it can be quite expensive. Also, your prescription can affect glare. Glass lenses are very scratch resistant, and AR will increase clarity of vision more so, although they do weigh more and are dangerous if smashed. Hope this helps.

anon182800
Post 35

Eye glass coatings suck. Period. I work outside and I don't have the luxury of special wipes and soap and water. I will never use coatings again. My glasses are only a year old and I can barely see out of them.

anon163500
Post 34

I've used Crizal Alize coating and have found it superb. I have quite oily skin and my glasses get smudged quite often. However it cleans up instantly, and no problems with scratching either, so far.

anon158516
Post 33

Soap and water to clean any A/R lens is all one needs.

Rinse your glasses under warm tap water. Use a drop of dish detergent or shampoo and using your fingers, gently wash your glasses. Rinse and gently wipe dry with a clean cotton towel. Optician, 35 years

anon156350
Post 32

In response to #30 about eye infection/ irritation from ar coatings. I too have the same problem. It is almost as if the coatings have a radiation quality and the skin around my eyes feels itchy and painful. The less I wear them the better. I don't have any idea what is causing this.

anon153511
Post 31

I'm not a salesperson for any AR company, but I feel I have to post my experience with one of the brands.

Crizal is the brand I request on my lens as they tend not to scratch or delaminate as easily as the cheaper, no-name AR stuff I've had pushed on me by lesser opto offices.

I discovered the brand years ago quite by accident when my then new local optometrist told me to try it when I showed him my scratched up previous lenses. By comparison, the Crizal stuff can actually be cleaned with a T shirt while incurring little/no damage. Not recommended, but in a pinch it works. I've even cleaned it with a sweaty, dirty, cycling jersey before without issue.

I recently tried to use Zenni's AR on a pair of frames and those were awfully fragile coatings. Apparently, whatever Crizal is using hasn't trickled down to the lower price ranges which is sucky as Crizal is spendy.

I've noticed no difference in smudge resistance versus other AR coatings.

Basically if the optometrist doesn't know or can't get Crizal, I deselect AR from them or walk away. Hope that helps.

anon138814
Post 30

I've worn glasses forever and for the first time have gone to lens crafters, and added the AR coating. Since then I've had serious problems with my eyes, i.e., infection every week now for four months. Has anyone out there ever gone through this?

anon132412
Post 29

I too have anti-reflective coating that is always smeared, badly scratched (and the only thing I ever use to clean them is the lens cleaner the opthamologist sells, which is a "proprietary blend of alcohols", and their microfiber cloth).

I've have anti-reflective coatings in the past that weren't this bad, but the "new, improved" coating is awful. Worst glasses I've ever owned. I could use any cleaning suggestions. Eye doctor has been no help.

anon123014
Post 28

To clean lenses with anti reflective coating it is always better that you rinse it with water and wash gently with a liquid soap and then rise it again. Pat it dry and then clean it with the cleaning cloth.

anon117855
Post 27

The place I go to, Forsight Vision, automatically adds an anti-reflective coating, (covered with a scratch-resistant coating), onto your glasses. The scratch-resistant coating gets rid of all the cons normally associated with AR coatings. (Smudges, scratches, e.t.c.)

anon112533
Post 26

I purchased progressive, hi index with AR from Lenscrafters. They sold me a bottle of cleaner which includes "isopropanol" a form of alcohol. I read somewhere "don't ever use alcohol since it dissolves AR coatings". Huh? What is the answer to this dilemma; use the cleaner or soap and water?

anon111080
Post 25

I have an AR coating from a reputable optometrist office and I have never, ever gotten them clean, using all suggested products and cloths. They attract lint, spots, and are always smudged and smeared, even if I clean them several times. I could use some helpful suggestions! Thank you!

anon108195
Post 24

150 dollars for AR coating? Are you interested in buying some swamp land in Fla.? lol

anon103977
Post 23

Do anti scratch coatings work with anti reflective coatings or do they kill the benefits of anti reflective coatings?

anon93716
Post 22

i usually use my computer for hours and these days I'm feeling a severe headache when i concentrate on the computer screen during studying for more than one hour. The doctor checked my eyesight and told that i don't have sight and prescribed me anti-reflecting glasses. The question i want to ask is, "Does using anti reflecting glasses every day increase your eye sight??"

anon91849
Post 21

I should imagine it would depend on the opticians involved as to if they offer AR as a option. I suggest you get AR coating and tough-coat for the lenses. I have recently been prescribed reading glasses in addition to my distance glasses and unfortunately I omitted AR when I ordered them, for me a big mistake; the difference is quite dramatic.

I have no idea whether the light transference is greater or not, but I can tell you that I find the reflection in my new glasses is really annoying. So much so, that I'm probably going to have a reglaze job done on them and be a little more attentive when I fill in the order form.

anon85279
Post 20

Do premium AR coatings on good quality plastic glasses "increase" light transmission to the eye? My OD claims they do but I struggle to see how.

anon79171
Post 19

worth having. cosmetic appearance is much better. very good for night driving.

anon67198
Post 18

This may sound like a strange question, but I am wondering about the safety of wearing lenses with AR coating long-term.

I notice that these coatings are often made by companies/brands like Scotchguard and Teflon, and I have read about concerns regarding the safety of chemicals used in some of the other coatings that such companies make (i.e. non-stick for cooking and stain-repelling fabric/carpet treatments). (I am not a chemist, but I have read about concerns specifically relating to "perfluorochemicals").

Are AR coatings made of ingredients similar to the non-stick/anti-stain coating chemicals? I have sunglasses with this on the back of the lenses, and I notice that my eye lashes sometimes make streak marks in it, so at least sometimes they actually make contact with it.

I am trying to decide whether I think the stuff is safe before purchasing new "regular" eyeglasses. Any information or suggested references would be appreciated.

anon65470
Post 17

I spent 150.00 bucks on my coating. It's the Purecoat by zeiss. (or so I was told) And it works really good. I would recommend A/R lenses to other people. It costs more, but you're not supposed to cheap out on your eyes. Unless you're a cheapskate.

anon64854
Post 16

ok so i am getting a new pair of glasses and i don't drive but i am interested in anti-reflective because we all know plastic lenses scratch easier then glass and they don't recommend getting glass now. should i put out $80 for this or not?

anon58359
Post 15

Can you put a ar coating on a glass lens? Do you need it on a glass lens? Thanks

anon52698
Post 14

It depends where you get your eyeglasses...At Sam's, they do include it in your price and do not ask you if you want it. They just add it in the price and give it to you. But not all eye care places do that. Also, it totally matters where you get them from whether or not your antireflective coating sucks.

the cheaper brands will scratch and not reduce the glare as much.

If you go to an expensive place and ask for a premium AR, it will not scratch near as easy. basically with AR, for sure, you get what you pay for.

anon49637
Post 13

anti-reflective coatings are on the very surface and approx one quarter of the wavelength ur trying to absorb thick. in other words, your coating is thin, weak and extremely hard to clean from a physical standpoint. If you want your AR coating to last, do what i do with my AR lenses which are +10k usd each: don't clean them, apply lens covers, and never ever touch them.

anon49022
Post 12

I'm a third generation optician with over 26 years' experience. If someone tries to sell you an AR coating that they claim only has to be cleaned once a day, and does not smudge, move along, you're being lied to. There is a difference in the quality of AR coatings, but there is no such thing as oil resistant, smudge-free AR coating.

anon48276
Post 11

I have had about four pairs of glasses with anti-reflective coating and actually one traditional glass pair I bought in Europe 5 years ago. My recent pair of anti-reflective glasses are less than a year old and are so scratched that I was forced to put my old "real glass" glasses back on and could not believe how clear they were, basically no scratches, and they are five years old. Glass is less than desireable, due to it's weight and shatter dangers, but I'm ready for a new technology with eyewear, because anti-reflective glasses just don't work for me. Of course, I should handle them with more care, I'm told, but it's not like I'm jumping around the Sahara, wiping sand off every 10 mins. I'm just a teacher who needs to wipe smudges without tracking down my special spray and cloth every time. My wish: light, anti-reflective lenses that never scratch. Otherwise, back to glass if anyone will still sell it to me.

anon46577
Post 10

i'm a first time glasses wearer. is it the antireflective lens that is making my lenses very subtly tinted kind of yellowish? i find that unless I'm in very bright light, this (barely) tint still makes my pupils dilate and then i pick up the blurred edges of my progressive lenses. i already had them redo them without the transition for this reason. i mean, shouldn't glasses be 100 percent clear, like my cheap reading glasses are? Thank you so much.

anon40726
Post 9

I have anti-reflective coating, but I still have glare when pictures of me are taken wearing glasses. Is that supposed to happen with AR coating?

anon38442
Post 8

Will an AR coating help reduce my sensitivity to fluorescent light?

anon38258
Post 7

I am a licensed optician, and I have a lot of experence with this subject. my practice only uses the best anti reflective, whitch means that not all A.R. are made the same. the A.R. you receive at a discount chain will smudge and scatch very easly, whereas a premium A.R. only has to be cleaned one time a day, does not smudge, and is harder to scrath.

anon33897
Post 6

Whether you get anti-reflective coating on your glasses should be a choice you make? Many less than honest vision care providers automatically include it on your purchase of glasses without giving you the opportunity to make that choice. As it is usually a fairly expensive add-on to your lenses, you should get to determine whether or not it is in your budget. All that being said, I have managed an optical business for 13 years, and we always explained what it is, what it does, and what it costs. Most people who are in the industry, would not think of getting a pair of glasses without an AR coating. The benefits by far outweigh the negative (more cleaning required, easier to scratch).

anon29344
Post 5

I'd just like to point out something on the note that the coatings get dirtier easier. From what I've seen it's not that they get any dirtier - it's that the lenses are simply clearer and dirt shows up more - semantics really, but just an observation.

anon19573
Post 4

Todays eyecare providers offer antireflective coated lenses that are superior in scratch resistance to uncoated lenses, and are very resistant to smudges, oils, and dust.

ladygry05
Post 3

How exactly do you clean an anti-reflective coating on eyeglasses?

Moderator's reply: check out our article, what is the best way to clean glasses?, for more information on the topic.

anon7907
Post 2

Do you normally get a choice for this? Is it something everybody gets no matter what or is it an option when you order glasses?

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