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Anti-Reflective Coating vs. Blue Light Coating

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedMarch 1, 2024

Advancements in optical technologies have transformed eyeglasses from purely vision correction tools into devices that can enhance how we visually experience the world.

Two of the most talked-about innovations in modern eyewear are Anti-Reflective (AR) Coating and Blue Light Coating. These specialty coatings offer solutions to common problems like glare, eye strain, and sleep issues stemming from increased screen time.

This comprehensive guide will unpack everything you need to know about AR coating and blue light lenses - from how they work to their key benefits and limitations.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • AR coating on glasses reduces glare and reflections, enhancing vision clarity, which is especially beneficial in low-light conditions and reducing back glare.
  • Blue Light Coating filters out blue light from digital screens and is available in reflecting and absorbing types, reducing eye strain and improving sleep quality.
  • AR coating allows more light to pass through lenses, improving vision, reducing eye strain, enhancing glasses' appearance, and combining easy-to-clean properties.
  • Blue light glasses help regulate sleep-wake cycles, alleviate screen-related eye strain, limit dry eyes and headaches, and support mental health.
  • AR coatings can be prone to scratches, show smudges easily, deteriorate over time, and increase the cost of glasses; they cannot be repaired once damaged.
  • The effectiveness of blue light glasses is debated. They can cause color distortion, their necessity is questioned, and not all offer the same level of protection.
  • Adding AR coating to lenses costs between $20 to $150, with online retailers like Zenni Optical offering more affordable options.
  • Non-prescription blue light glasses cost between $30 to $100, while adding a blue light filter to prescription lenses is generally under $100, with online options providing economical choices.
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  • Frames starting at $97
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1. How They Work

Glasses aren't just about improving vision anymore; they're also about enhancing our interaction with the world around us. AR Coating and Blue Light Coating have revolutionized how we experience light and screens daily. Here’s how these coatings work and why they're more than just a trend in eyewear.

Anti-Reflective Coating

AR Coating on glasses minimizes the reflections on the lens surfaces. This is achieved by applying multiple very thin layers of metal oxides to the front and back surfaces of the lens. Each layer in the coating is designed to block specific wavelengths of light, which reduces glare.

The principle behind AR coatings is based on the destructive interference of light waves. The coating is made of materials with an index of refraction between air and glass, causing the light reflected from the inner and outer surfaces of the film to be nearly equal.

When these reflections are applied at about a quarter of the light's wavelength, they cancel each other out, thereby minimizing the glare seen by the wearer. This technology is used in prescription glasses and sunglasses to reduce back glare, which is light that hits the back of the lenses and bounces into the eyes.

Blue Light Coating

Blue Light Coating reduces or filters out blue light, particularly from digital screens. Blue light glasses use filter technology that either reflects or absorbs blue light.

There are two main types of blue light-blocking lenses: ones with a blue-light-reflecting coating, which can appear bluish and typically block around 10% of blue light, and blue-light-absorbing lenses, which feature a yellow or amber embedded tint and can filter at least 35% of blue light.

The more blue light a lens blocks, the more orange it appears. Blue light glasses work by diverting blue-violet light from entering the eye, which can be important for those who spend a lot of time in front of digital screens. The subtle coating can be applied to most glasses, including everyday prescription glasses.

👍 Recommendation

When selecting the ideal blue light-blocking glasses, consider both the level of protection they offer against blue light, ranging from partial to 99% blocking, and their style and comfort for prolonged use. Discover our best blue-light-blocking glasses to safeguard your eyes and help you conquer the digital age with clarity and comfort.

2. Advantages

When it comes to eyeglasses, the benefits of AR Coating and Blue Light Coating go beyond mere aesthetics; they play a crucial role in improving both our visual experience and eye health. Here are the advantages these coatings offer.

Anti-Reflective Coating

  • AR coating significantly improves the clarity of vision by allowing more light to pass through the lenses. This is especially beneficial for high-index lenses that naturally reflect more light, reducing the amount of light entering the eye and potentially causing issues in low-light conditions, such as nighttime driving​​​​.
  • By eliminating reflections from screens and artificial lighting, AR-coated lenses reduce eye strain and fatigue, particularly during extended use of computers or in brightly lit environments​​​​.
  • AR coating reduces the lenses' visible reflections, making them almost invisible. This enhances the appearance of the eyeglasses, allowing better visibility of the wearer's eyes and facial expressions, which improves social interactions and eye contact​​​​.
  • Modern AR coatings are designed to be more durable and are often combined with hydrophobic (water-repelling) and oleophobic (oil-repelling) properties, making the lenses easier to clean and maintain. This helps in keeping the glasses-free from smudges and water spots​​​​.
  • AR coating reduces the halo effect and glare from headlights and streetlights when driving at night, improving safety and comfort​​​​.

Blue Light Coating

  • Blue light has been shown to suppress melatonin production, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Wearing blue light-blocking glasses, especially in the evening, can help treat melatonin suppression and improve sleep quality and duration. This is particularly beneficial for individuals with disrupted sleep patterns or those who use digital devices before bedtime​​​​​​​​.
  • Prolonged exposure to blue-violet light from screens can lead to discomfort and eye strain. Blue light glasses help reduce the intensity of blue light reaching the eyes, alleviating these symptoms and making screen time more comfortable​​​​​​.
  • Symptoms like dry eyes and headaches can be exacerbated by exposure to blue light. Blue light glasses can help limit these symptoms, making screen-related activities more comfortable and reducing the need for eye rubbing due to dryness​​.
  • There is a connection between disrupted sleep patterns and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Blue light lenses can indirectly support mental health by regulating sleep-wake cycles, improving overall well-being​​.
  • Blue light lenses are versatile and can be fitted into any frame. They are suitable for both indoor use, particularly for those who spend a significant amount of time in front of digital screens, and outdoor activities in direct sunlight, where they help reduce glare​​.

🩺 Doctor’s Note

The effectiveness of blue light-blocking glasses can vary among individuals, and some of the claimed benefits are still being researched. However, these coatings are increasingly recommended for those who spend considerable time in front of screens or require improved visual comfort in varying lighting conditions. For AR Coating and Blue Light Coating, it's advisable to consult an eye care professional for personalized recommendations based on individual needs and lifestyle.

3. Disadvantages

While AR Coating and Blue Light Coating offer numerous advantages, it's essential to consider their limitations and potential drawbacks. Let's look at the challenges and considerations associated with these eyewear technologies.

Anti-Reflective Coating

  • AR coatings, while more durable than in the past, can still be prone to scratches. Care must be taken when cleaning and handling AR-coated lenses to avoid damaging the coating. Scratches can impair vision and detract from the appearance of the glasses​​.
  • AR-coated lenses may require more frequent cleaning as they can show smudges and fingerprints more easily than uncoated lenses. This need for regular cleaning can be inconvenient for some users​​.
  • The AR coating can peel off or deteriorate over time in certain conditions, such as exposure to high temperatures or harsh chemicals. This deterioration can affect the visual quality and reduce the effectiveness of the coating​​.
  • Adding AR coating to eyeglass lenses typically increases the overall cost of the glasses. For individuals on a budget, the added expense can be a significant factor in their decision-making process​​.
  • Once the AR coating is damaged, it cannot be repaired. If the coating is significantly scratched or peels off, the only solution is to replace the lenses, which can be costly​​.

Blue Light Coating

  • The effectiveness of blue light glasses in reducing digital eye strain and improving sleep is still debated. Some studies suggest limited benefits, particularly for reducing symptoms like eye strain, while others highlight their potential for improving sleep quality​​​​​​.
  • Blue light blocking glasses, especially those with stronger filters, can cause color distortion, which may be problematic for tasks requiring color accuracy or for users sensitive to such changes​​​​.
  • The necessity of blue light glasses, especially during the daytime, is questioned by some experts, given that the amount of blue light from devices is less than natural sunlight. Their use may be more relevant in the evening or for individuals with high sensitivity to blue light​​​​​​.
  • Some users may find the tint of blue light-blocking glasses aesthetically unappealing, especially if the tint is pronounced. This could affect their comfort and willingness to wear the glasses, particularly indoors or in low-light conditions​​​​.
  • There's a risk of overreliance on blue light glasses as a solution for screen-related discomfort, potentially overlooking other important factors like screen habits, posture, and blink rate. Using blue light glasses with other eye health practices is essential rather than a standalone solution​​​​​​.
  • Not all blue light glasses offer the same level of protection. The degree of blue light filtering varies among products, and some may not provide comprehensive protection against the full spectrum of blue light emitted by screens​​​​.

4. Costs

The cost of eyewear is crucial for many, and understanding the pricing of AR Coating and Blue Light Coating is important for making informed decisions. Here are the price ranges and factors that influence the cost of these specialized coatings.

Anti-Reflective Coating

The price of adding AR coating to eyeglass lenses can vary, but it typically ranges from $20 to $150, depending on the quality and brand of the coating. Some premium brands offer advanced AR coatings with additional features like hydrophobic and oleophobic properties, which can be more expensive. The cost may also differ based on the coated lens type and the optical store or online retailer you purchase from.

For example, Lensabl stands out as a top choice for online eyecare solutions. Offering a wide array of lenses, frames, and contacts, Lensabl also provides convenient optometry services, including online prescriptions and lens replacements starting at $77. With frames starting at $97, Lensabl ensures affordability without compromising quality. Plus, all lenses come equipped with blue-light protection, anti-reflective, and anti-scratch coatings, along with 100% UV protection for comprehensive eye care.

Also, Zenni Optical, a popular online eyewear retailer, offers AR coating at reasonable prices. Their standard AR coating starts at just $4.95, while more advanced options, such as super hydrophobic coating, are priced at $8.95, and oleophobic coating at $14.95. These prices are significantly lower than what might be found in physical stores, where similar quality coatings can be sold for over $200​.

Blue Light Coating

The cost of blue light glasses or adding a blue light coating to prescription lenses also varies. Non-prescription blue light glasses can be purchased for around $30 to $100, though prices can go higher for more expensive brands.

For instance, Zenni Optical offers blue light-blocking lenses, known as Blokz, starting at around $16.95, in addition to the cost of the glasses. Blokz lenses are designed to block harmful UV and blue light and are available for prescription and non-prescription glasses​​. Another popular brand for blue light glasses, Felix Gray, offers non-prescription blue light glasses, typically starting around $95. They are known for high-quality lenses and stylish frames.

Blue light filters can be added to the lenses for prescription glasses at an additional cost, typically under $100. The price depends on the filter strength, the brand, and whether the glasses are bought from an optometrist, a drug store, or online​​.

While some insurance plans may cover the cost of prescription eyeglasses, they may not always cover the additional cost of AR or blue light coatings. It's advisable to check with your provider to see what is included in your coverage.

📔 Related Articles

For a more in-depth comparison related to vision, please refer to the following articles:

Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
Find the cheapest eyeglasses, contacts, and vision insurance plans @Lensabl
Illustration of a healthcare provider asking questions on a smart phone.
  • Lens replacements starting at $77
  • Frames starting at $97
  • Checkmark Inside Circle.Low prices on all of your favorite brands like Acuvue, DAILIES, AirOptix and more
Learn more about Lensabl

Wrap Up

AR coating and blue light coating are innovative optical technologies that aim to enhance vision, reduce digital eye strain, and regulate sleep-wake cycles. These specialty coatings eliminate reflections and filter harmful blue light through light interference and filtering principles.

While the coatings offer benefits like sharper clarity, eye protection, improved sleep, and aesthetic appeal, they also have some limitations, such as added costs, potential scratching, color distortion issues, and questions around efficacy and necessity.

Ultimately, deciding whether these high-tech coatings are worth the investment depends on assessing your eye care needs and priorities. Weighing the pros and cons with realistic expectations allows you to determine if they could provide value by transforming your visual experience.

FAQs on Anti-Reflective Coating vs. Blue Light Coating

Can Anti-Reflective coating be applied to sunglasses?

Yes, applying an Anti-Reflective coating to both the front and back of sunglass lenses is beneficial. It enhances protection from direct UV rays and those that bounce off surfaces, improving visual comfort in bright conditions.

How do I choose between Anti-Reflective Coating and Blue Light Filters?

The choice depends on your specific needs. If reducing glare and enhancing visual clarity are your main concerns, go for Anti-Reflective coating. Blue Light Filters might be more suitable if you're looking to reduce eye strain from screen exposure and improve sleep quality. Some eyewear options combine both technologies for comprehensive protection.

How does Blue Light affect our well-being?

Blue light influences our biological rhythms and general well-being. It affects our hormonal balance, including the release of serotonin and cortisol during the day and melatonin at night. Overexposure to blue light can damage the eye and disrupt sleep patterns.​