Anti-Reflective Coating for Eyeglasses: Worth the Money?

Learn all about anti-reflective coating and what is has to offer to ensure that you have the best visual experience.

Anti-Reflective Coating for Eyeglasses: Worth the Money? in Olympia

Why Would You Need This?

As everyone knows, glass reflects light, sometimes blindingly so. Many other materials, such as metal and some plastics, do the same. Sun glare is when sunlight reflects off something outdoors and gets into your eyes. Your eyeglass lenses are no exception to this, and it can lead to more than one problem. For instance, standard plastic lenses reflect back eight percent of the light that hits them. That’s eight percent less light entering your vision, and it can make things more difficult to see. Even worse, reflected light can create that blinding glare we’re all familiar with. This is most pronounced with light coming from behind you and being reflected off the lenses and right into your eyes--to an extent defeating the purpose of sunglasses.

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What is Anti-Reflective Coating for Glasses?

An anti-reflective coating is something that can be applied to lenses to allow more than 99 percent of light to pass through, nearly eThis modern anti-reflective coating is made of a hard, thin film which is layered on top of the lens. It’s made of a material that has an index of reflection (which indicates how light bends when passing through it) between air and glass. This leads to the amount of light reflected from both its inner and the outer surfaces to be just about equal. When this coating is applied in the correct way, the reflections from each side just about cancel each other out, minimizing glare. This is more often done to the rear of lenses, but can also be applied to the front to eliminate what’s often called “hot spot” glare from reflecting off the lenses, eliminating the glare caused by light reflecting off of them. 

This modern anti-reflective coating is made of a hard, thin film which is layered on top of the lens. It’s made of a material that has an index of reflection (which indicates how light bends when passing through it) between air and glass. This leads to the amount of light reflected from both its inner and the outer surfaces to be just about equal. When this coating is applied in the correct way, the reflections from each side just about cancel each other out, minimizing glare. This is more often done to the rear of lenses, but can also be applied to the front to eliminate what’s often called “hot spot” glare from reflecting off the lenses.

When is This Coating Applied?

Anti-reflective coating can be applied both before, and after purchasing a pair of glasses.

Generally speaking, it is ideal for anti-reflective coating to be added as early as possible. This allows it to be integrated into the manufacturing process, making it more integrated and cost-effective.

However, it is completely possible to apply this after purchase, though it is a bit more of a process. First you must check to ensure it does not already contain this coating. You can do this by looking at your lenses from different directions to try and spot any glare. If you are lacking the coating, the glare will share the color with the light it’s reflecting, and those reflections will be very strong and obvious.

If you determine your glasses do not have this coating, there are two other things you must check first. 

  1. Confirm that the lenses have not been exposed to skin oils. If they have, the anti-reflective coating might not stick well enough.
  2. Check that there are no scratches on the lenses. If there are scratches, they can be magnified by the application of the coating, making them more of a nuisance for the wearer.

If these conditions are met, the coating can be applied, though in many cases it will cost more at this point, and will likely be of a lower quality than similar coating applied during the manufacturing process. So, as mentioned above, it is advised to get glasses with this feature built in.

When is This Coating Applied?
Caring For Your Coated Glasses

Caring For Your Coated Glasses

There are a few things you should be aware of regarding the cleaning of your anti-reflective coated glasses.

First, use only optician-recommended products, as lens cleaners with harsh chemicals can damage the coating.

Additionally, be sure to wet the lenses before cleaning them. Using a dry cloth on dry lenses can lead to scratches, which will stand out more of coated lenses than on uncoated ones.

Caring For Your Coated Glasses

Worth the Expense

Ultimately, anti-reflective coating for your lenses is absolutely worth the extra expense, especially if applied before your purchase. Eliminating glare will lead to a much better experience when you’re out and about with your glasses or sunglasses, and, perhaps more importantly, will limit the amount of UV rays that make it into your eyes. If you have any more specific questions about the types of anti-reflective coatings, the application process, or whether your glasses already have such a coating, ask your eyecare professional.

Common Questions

While not necessary, Anti-glare treatments are generally recommended for glasses and for good reason. Anti-glare or anti-reflective coatings come with a bevy of benefits. They eliminate glare from incoming light which provides for more crisp vision. Also, most anti-glares come with secondary benefits such as scratch and water resistance which helps to keep the surface clean and clear.
Anti-reflective coating is almost just as it sounds. It is a very thin coating that's applied to the lens to help light move more cleanly through the lens. What this means is that the incoming light gets to your retina without bouncing around or heading in other directions. This reduces glare and makes vision a touch sharper. Some anti-glare coatings also have added benefits. Some coatings are also hydrophobic, meaning they repel water. Some also provide added scratch, dirt and dust resistance.
This depends on a few factors. AR coatings can last anywhere from six months to seven or more years and here's the breakdown. Just like everything else, there are different companies offering different tiers of AR coatings. Not surprising, the most expensive usually last the longest. Generally, if you keep your A coatings away from chemicals, extreme and prolonged heat exposure, clean appropriately, you can get a long life from them.
Hardly anything is necessary when it comes to lenses, aside for the proper fulfilling of the Rx. However, there are things to be done that can improve the overall optical experience like adding an anti-scratch/anti-reflective coating to your lenses. So, let's make a distinction from the get go to avoid confusion later. All anti-scratch coatings are also anti-reflective or anti-glare but not all anti-reflective coatings have a scratch resistant quality. This is important when deciding on what type of anti-reflective to get on your lenses. Every anti-reflective is constructed differently and some offer just the refractive qualities of an anti-reflective while others incorporate the scratch resistance element as well. While it isn't necessary there are a myriad of benefits to choosing a scratch resistant coating for lenses. Not only do you get the benefits from your standard AR lenses but you'll also get that smoother, hydrophobic, scratch resistance which can contribute to an increase in lens longevity. Meaning, with a little bit of care, you'll get a lot more wear. Furthermore we strongly recommend getting scratch resistant coatings for children's glasses, because kids will be kids.
The best way to store our glasses when they are not in use is in their case. Keeping it in the case while sleeping, or not in use, will increase the odds that we don't end up with unseemly scratches on the lenses. Another way to reduce scratches is daily and preventative care. What this means is using a proper cloth and cleaning solution daily and properly storing it will keep our lenses in mint condition.
Are glasses better for my eyes than contact lenses? Answer: This isn't really a yes or no question. Some people fare better with glasses, while some with contacts, while others wear both equally. It depends on the patients needs and which option is the best way to address them. Different strokes for different folks as they say. Each one comes with its list of pros and cons but ultimately this should decided with your physician.
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


While purchasing glasses with an anti-reflective coating means you will be paying a bit more, they bring with them significant health and safety benefits that are worth the price. Contact our optometrists for more information if you have additional questions.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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