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6 Must-Know Benefits Of Anti-Reflective Coatings

Written by Andrew Le, MD

UpdatedMay 29, 2024

Many people deal with glare from different light sources. It happens when you're driving, playing sports, or working on a computer, causing inconvenience. Studies suggest that approximately 70% of people dislike glare. Although it may appear harmless, this problem can cause eye strain, blurred vision, frequent headaches, and difficulty focusing.

If you wear glasses, one of the best ways to improve your vision is to choose a lens solution with an anti-glare or anti-reflective coating. This unique lens enhancement can reduce glare from oncoming headlights, street sign reflections, and other bothersome light.

In this article, we will explore six essential benefits of anti-reflective coatings, highlighting their advantages in daily life and how they can relieve common eye problems.

🔑Key Takeaways

  • Anti-reflective (AR) coatings consist of thin layers applied to lenses to minimize reflections and glare, especially focusing on reducing back glare.
  • AR coatings can reduce glare from oncoming headlights, street sign reflections, and other bothersome light, improving vision and reducing eye strain.
  • Approximately 70% of people dislike glare, which can cause eye strain, blurred vision, frequent headaches, and difficulty focusing.
  • AR coatings are commonly used on the front surfaces of prescription eyeglasses and select sunglasses, AR coatings serve to eliminate the distracting "hot spot" glare and enhance visual comfort.
  • Generally, three types of AR coatings are available in the market: single-layer, multi-layer, and hybrid.
  • Single-layer coatings are known for their simplicity and ease of application, making them suitable for various optical applications.
  • Multi-layer coatings employ a more complex design, using multiple layers of thin films to reduce reflected light successively, and can significantly reduce reflection, often less than 0.1% of the incident light.
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What Is An Anti-Reflective Coating?

An anti-reflective (AR) coating on glasses is a thin film applied to the lenses to reduce reflections and glare. The primary purpose of this coating is to minimize back glare, which is the light that hits the back of the lenses and bounces into the eyes. This back glare can be problematic, causing reflections and reducing the clarity of vision.

Here's how an anti-reflective coating works:

  • Thin Film: The AR coating is a thin, hard film layered onto the lens surface.
  • Material Properties: The coating is made of a material with an index of refraction that falls between air and glass.
  • Destructive Interference: When applied to a thickness of about a quarter of the wavelength of light, the two reflections—one from the inner surface and the other from the outer surface of the film—undergo destructive interference. This means that the reflections cancel each other out, reducing the intensity of reflected light.

What Are The Types Of Anti-Reflective Coatings?

There are three main types of anti-reflective coatings available in the market that effectively reduce the amount of light that is reflected. These include:

1. Single-Layer AR Coatings

Single-layer AR coatings, such as Magnesium Fluoride (MgF2), are designed for visible light applications. These coatings aim to reduce reflection by applying a single thin film to the surface, typically about one-quarter of a wavelength of green light.

While specific efficacy percentages are not provided, the reduction in reflected light is substantial, dropping from 4% to around 1%. Single-layer coatings are known for their simplicity and ease of application, making them suitable for various optical applications.

The efficacy is primarily attributed to the ability of the coating to interfere destructively with reflected light, minimizing unwanted reflections.

2. Multi-Layer AR Coatings

Multi-layer AR coatings employ a more complex design, using multiple layers of thin films to reduce reflected light successively. While exact percentages of efficacy are not specified, these coatings can significantly reduce reflection, often less than 0.1% of the incident light.

The effectiveness is based on the principles of destructive interference at various interfaces, including between air and the coating, between coating layers, and between the coating and the substrate. The design involves alternating between higher and lower indices of refraction for each layer, optimizing the coating's ability to interfere with reflected light.

3. "V" Coatings

"V" is a specialized AR coating tailored for maximum performance across a narrow range of wavelengths. Although specific efficacy percentages are not outlined, these coatings are designed with a high index of refraction, except at a specifically designed wavelength (DWL).

The resulting index of the refraction curve resembles a near "V" shape. "V" coatings are ideal for applications where precise wavelength control is crucial. Their efficacy lies in tuning the coating to have a high index of refraction, minimizing reflection at the specified wavelength while allowing higher reflectance elsewhere.

This targeted approach makes "V" coatings suitable for applications with stringent wavelength requirements.

Everyday Eyewear Ensley with Anti-Reflective Coating

What Are The Benefits Of Anti-Reflective Coatings?

AR coatings offer a range of benefits that go beyond basic vision correction. Whether you're a regular glasses wearer or need them for specific activities like driving or computer work, understanding the advantages of AR coatings can significantly impact your choice of eyewear. Below are the benefits of the AR coatings:

1. Reduced Reflections and Ghost Images

AR coatings are designed to reduce reflections and secondary images from the surfaces of spectacle lenses, leading to decreased ghost images and glare. AR coatings can virtually eliminate the reflection of light, allowing 99.5% of available light to pass through the lenses and enter the eye for good vision.

Studies have shown that AR-coated lenses significantly reduce reflections and improve contrast, enhancing both acuity and comfort. AR coatings can reduce surface reflections to less than 1% of the incident light, reducing ghost images and glare and making objects appear brighter and more lit through AR-coated lenses.

Patients who wore AR-coated lenses reported reductions in glare-related visual problems, and better contrast sensitivity was observed with AR-coated lenses when viewing dimly lit objects. AR coatings are widely used in reducing unwanted light reflection loss from optical surfaces, and they are critical components for many important applications.

2. Improved Contrast Sensitivity

Research has shown that AR-coated lenses improve contrast sensitivity during daily activities. Most subjects preferred AR-coated lenses over non-AR-coated lenses, reporting better clarity and comfort during normal daily activities, including working at a computer and using a handheld device.

Another study demonstrated that AR coating on spectacle lenses led to significantly better contrast sensitivity under dimly illuminated conditions, suggesting potential benefits for drivers, particularly at night. Additionally, research has shown that AR coating on ophthalmic lenses, especially for polycarbonate, enhances contrast sensitivity scores.

Additionally, research has found that lenses with AR coatings significantly improve contrast sensitivity in the presence of glare, with a notable enhancement ranging from 1.5 to 5 times when compared to their non-coated counterparts. This resulted in subjects being able to read an average of one additional line of text under moderate glare conditions compared to those without AR-coated lenses.

3. Reduction of Glare

AR coatings are effective in reducing glare, especially under conditions of moderate glare. Studies have shown that AR-coated lenses outperform non-AR-coated lenses in glare threshold measurements, providing better vision in situations with increased light intensity.

AR coatings enhance how you see the world by allowing more light to pass through the lens while eliminating glare, giving you a clear vision. AR coatings can be applied to the front or both sides of your lenses to help reduce the glare or mirror effect you get when light reflects off the surface of your lenses.

4. Added Protection From Ultra-Violet Rays

An AR coating is a valuable addition to your eyeglasses, protecting your eyes against harmful UV rays. This coating works by minimizing reflections, which enables a greater amount of light to pass through the lenses. This coating is usually applied to the back of the lenses to guard against the sun's damaging effects.

It is most effective when paired with high-index lenses, better at reflecting light than regular plastic lenses. Antireflective (AR) glasses available on the market are effective against visible light; they block an average of 75% of ultraviolet radiation. Therefore, AR coating on glasses can improve UV protection and overall eye health.

5. Reduced Eye Fatigue

Wearing AR-coated lenses has been reported to reduce eye strain and fatigue. AR coatings eliminate reflective light, which can cause eyes to become tired, and they can also help prevent digital eye strain, making it easier for the eyes to capture a quality image and reducing the need for the eyes to work as hard.

Studies have shown that AR coatings can improve digital eye strain symptoms and reduce fatigue. The coatings also enhance contrast and provide sharper, clearer vision, which can help reduce eye strain.

Therefore, wearing AR-coated lenses can be beneficial in reducing eye strain and fatigue, especially during activities that involve prolonged screen time or exposure to artificial light.

6. Enhanced Aesthetic Appearance

AR coatings also enhance the appearance of eyeglasses by reducing the visible reflections on the lenses' surface, making them look almost invisible. The result is that the glasses appear more attractive, less distracting, and more aesthetically pleasing.

Additionally, AR coatings help improve the wearer's appearance by drawing more attention to their eyes. The eyes become more visible and prominent with fewer reflections on the lenses. This effect makes the glasses look more fashionable and helps the wearer make better eye contact.

By reducing distractions caused by reflected light, these coatings provide a clearer view of the eyes, which can help to create a more intimate and engaging connection with the people around you.

Non-Coated Lenses vs. Anti-Reflective Coated Lenses

Non-coated lenses are the most basic type of lenses that are available in the market. They are made from a single piece of glass or plastic and do not have any added coatings. They are usually cheaper than coated lenses and are easier to produce. However, they do not offer the same protection and clarity as their coated counterparts.

On the other hand, anti-reflective (AR) coated lenses have a special coating that reduces the amount of glare and reflections visible on the lens. They also provide better clarity and protection against scratches and other damage. AR coatings can be expensive, but they are worth the investment for those who want the best possible vision.

When it comes to the cost, it depends on your personal needs and preferences. Non-coated lenses may be a good choice if you're on a tight budget and don't mind a little glare or reflections. However, anti-reflective coated lenses may be a better option if you want the best possible vision and are willing to pay a little extra for it.

For instance, at Walmart, you must pay around $170 for high-index lenses and almost $80 for basic progressive lenses. These costs would not include the frames and the coating of lenses. The total cost would be around $450 when including everything.

What Are The Factors To Consider When Choosing Anti-Reflective Coatings?

When selecting AR coatings, there are various factors to consider to determine if they are the best fit for your needs, and these include:

  • Lifestyle and Usage: Consider your lifestyle and how you plan to use your glasses. For example, if you spend a lot of time working on a computer, you might benefit from an AR coating that filters out blue light. Different AR coatings may be more suitable for specific activities or lighting conditions.
  • Lens Material: The type of lens material you choose can impact the effectiveness of AR coatings. AR coatings can offer substantial benefits for high-index lenses, which tend to reflect more light than regular plastic lenses. Consider the refractive index of the lens material when selecting the appropriate AR coating.
  • Brand and Formula: Each AR coating manufacturer has its proprietary formula. Some coatings consist of microscopic layers of metallic oxides with high and low indexes of refraction. The number of layers can affect how well reflections are neutralized. High-quality AR coatings may have up to seven layers.
  • Residual Color: Most lenses with AR coating may have a faint residual color, usually green or blue, characteristic of the specific coating brand. Consider whether the residual color is acceptable based on your aesthetic preferences.
  • Customization: Some lenses, such as progressive and multifocal lenses (bifocals and trifocals), may require AR coating to be applied after customization to your eyeglass prescription by an optical lab. Ensure that the chosen coating is compatible with your lens type and prescription.
  • Maintenance: When choosing AR coatings, consider how you plan to maintain and clean your glasses. Use only products your optician recommends for cleaning, as harsh chemicals may damage the coating. Additionally, it's important to wet AR-coated lenses before cleaning to prevent lens scratches.
  • Thickness: AR coatings are thin, typically only about 0.2 to 0.3 microns thick. This is a small fraction of the lens thickness, so it should not significantly impact your eyeglasses' overall thickness and weight.
  • Additional Features: Some premium AR lenses include surface treatments that make cleaning and repelling water easier. Some coatings are also oleophobic, repelling both water and oil, which can be beneficial for keeping the lenses clean.


Blue light-blocking glasses are designed to reduce the harmful blue light that enters your eyes. This can help alleviate eye strain and headaches and improve sleep quality. Given that most people spend a significant amount of time in front of screens, eye protection is important. To help you find the best blue light-blocking glasses on the market, we have compiled a list that can help reduce eye strain and protect your eyes.

How to Clean Eyeglasses with Anti-Reflective Coating

When cleaning eyeglasses with an AR coating, only use products your optician recommends. Follow these steps to clean AR-coated lenses:

Step 1: Rinse Your Lenses

To rinse your lenses, you should set up a location at a sink with lukewarm water and get a clean microfiber cloth. Before handling your glasses, wash your hands to prevent unnecessary oils from transferring to your lenses.

Step 2: Add Cleaning Solution

You can use dish soap or eyeglass cleaner as your cleaning solution. To apply the solution, use a pea-sized amount for each lens and gently rub it onto the surface of the lenses. Make sure the solution is evenly distributed on each lens.

This will help to remove any dirt, smudges, or fingerprints that may be present on the lenses, leaving them clean and clear.

Step 3: Massage the Cleaner into the Lens

Gently rub the cleaning solution into the lenses, being careful not to rub too hard to avoid scratching the lenses. Also, rub some soap onto the frames and nose pads, as these areas can collect oil and debris.

Step 4: Rinse with Lukewarm Water

After using the cleaning solution, rinse your eyeglasses under lukewarm water. You can raise your glasses under the faucet or fill the sink with water to rinse the lenses underwater. Ensure that all the cleaner is washed off the lenses.

Step 5: Dry the Lenses with a Microfiber Cloth

Shake the frames over the sink to eliminate any excess water. Then, carefully use a microfiber cloth to gently dry the lenses, ensuring they are thoroughly dried while minimizing the risk of scratching.

Additionally, avoid common mistakes when cleaning AR glasses:

  • Don't use your clothes to clean your glasses; this can scratch the lenses. Use a microfiber cloth instead.
  • Avoid using glass or surface cleaners, which can damage the lenses and the AR coating.
  • Don't use paper towels, napkins, tissues, or toilet paper to clean your glasses; they may smear the lenses.
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Anti-reflective coatings are an excellent way to improve vision and reduce eye strain caused by glare. These coatings are applied to lenses and work by minimizing back glare, the light that hits the back of the lenses and bounces into the eyes. With the help of an AR coating, the reflections cancel each other out, reducing the intensity of reflected light and improving vision and comfort.

However, it's important to note that AR coatings require special care and maintenance to ensure they last as long as possible and retain their effectiveness. When choosing AR coatings, it's vital to consider customization, maintenance, thickness, and additional features to choose the right coating for your needs.

To clean eyeglasses with AR coatings, only use products recommended by your optician and follow the recommended cleaning steps to avoid damaging the coating. With the right care and maintenance, AR-coated glasses can provide clear vision and enhanced comfort for years.

FAQs On Anti-Reflective Coatings

What are Crizal AR coatings, and what makes them special?

Crizal AR coatings are a brand of anti-reflective coatings known for their high-quality performance. They provide superior clarity, scratch resistance, and protection against smudges and dust.

What are Zeiss AR coatings, and what sets them apart?

Zeiss AR coatings are anti-reflective coatings developed by Zeiss, a renowned optics company. They are known for their precision and ability to reduce reflections, enhance visual comfort, and provide excellent durability.

What are the disadvantages of anti-reflective coating?

One of the main disadvantages of AR coatings is the added cost. Compared to regular lenses, AR-coated lenses can be more expensive, making them less affordable for some individuals.

How long does an anti-reflective coating last?

On average, an AR coating will last approximately two years, but with proper care, it should last the entire lens lifespan. Handling your glasses carefully and avoiding using harsh chemicals or abrasive materials when cleaning them is important.

Are anti-reflective coatings scratch-resistant?

Many anti-reflective coatings, including Crizal and Zeiss, offer scratch-resistant properties to protect the coated surfaces from minor scratches, making them more durable and long-lasting.

Can anti-reflective coatings be applied to sunglasses?

Yes, anti-reflective coatings can be applied to sunglasses. They reduce reflections on sunglass lenses, providing better visibility and comfort, especially when driving or in bright sunlight.