Evidence Based

Anti-Glare (Anti-Reflective) Eyeglasses

What is Anti-Glare Coating?

Anti-glare coating, also known as anti-reflective coating or AR coating, is a thin layer applied to the surface of your eyeglass lenses that allows more light to pass through your lenses. This improves your vision by reducing the amount of glare that reflects off of your lenses.

Glare is the excessive brightness caused by direct light or reflected light. It often occurs when sunlight bounces off a reflective surface like water or snow. Phones, tablets, and computer screens lit by LEDs can also cause glare. 

Standard plastic lenses reflect approximately eight percent of the light that reaches your glasses, and high-index lenses reflect up to 12 percent of available light. 

Glare can cause numerous problems, including:

  • Increased eye strain
  • Digital eye strain
  • Poor vision in low light settings (especially night driving)
  • Halos or rings around bright lights
  • Headaches or migraines
  • The inability for others to see your eyes

Anti-glare coating allows 99.5 percent of available light to reach your eyes, essentially eliminating glare. 

Anti-reflective coating is available on all eyewear lens types, including high-index lenses, bifocals and multifocals, progressive lenses, reading glasses, and sunglasses.

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Benefits of Anti-Glare Coating

AR coating provides numerous benefits, including:

1. Improved Visual Clarity and Comfort

With no light reflecting off of your lenses, more light will reach your eye. This increases visual acuity and reduces the need to squint, especially during deep focus tasks like driving or using your computer.

2. Better Appearance

If you have glasses without anti-glare coating, you’ve probably had issues with taking good pictures or finding the right angle for video calls. Any bright lights or camera flash will reflect off of your lenses. The same is true when you’re speaking to someone face to face in a bright setting. Anti-reflective lenses eliminate this glare so that everyone can see your eyes.

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3. UV Protection

Anti-reflective coating also helps protect your eyes from UV rays (sunlight that doesn’t appear on our visual spectrum). This property can be enhanced by purchasing photochromatic (transition) or polarized lenses.

4. Better Sports Performance

Glare can be a big problem in many outdoor sports. Fishing, skiing, snowboarding, and baseball all take place in very bright settings that have the potential for a lot of glare. Anti-reflective glasses or sunglasses help to reduce this light and provide you with a clear field of vision.

5. Reduced Eye Strain

Glare can cause serious problems during deep focus tasks or work that takes place on a screen. Anytime you need to squint to see something, you are straining your eyes. Eliminating glare during these tasks will help put less stress on your eyes.

6. Less Blue Light Exposure

Digital devices such as phones, laptops, tablets, and TVs all emit harmful blue light. Some anti-glare coatings help to reduce your exposure to blue light, improve your sleep pattern, and reduce eye strain.

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Care for Anti-Glare Lens Coating

Many anti-glare lens coatings also undergo a hydrophobic surface treatment that makes them resistant to water. This also makes them easier to clean. However, due to their complete transparency, fine scratches are more visible on anti-glare lenses.

When cleaning your anti-glare lenses, be sure only to use products that your optician recommends. Always be sure to wet or moisten your lenses as well, using a dry cloth on dry lenses may cause dust or other debris to scratch your lens.

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Cost of Anti-Glare Lenses

Anti-glare coating can cost anywhere from $20 to $150 in addition to the original cost of your lenses. The cost will depend on the type of AR coating you choose and your eye doctor’s pricing. Some companies will include AR coating free of charge when you purchase their lenses.

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Author: Michael Bayba | UPDATED July 16, 2020
Medical reviewer: MELODY HUANG, O.D. | REVIEWED ON July 3, 2020

Miller, David, and Suketu Sanghvi. “Contrast Sensitivity and Glare Testing in Corneal Disease.” Glare and Contrast Sensitivity for Clinicians, 1990, pp. 45–52., doi:10.1007/978-1-4612-3242-1_5.

Morgan, Kenneth L., et al. “Transformation-Optics-Inspired Anti-Reflective Coating Design for Gradient Index Lenses.” Optics Letters, vol. 40, no. 11, 2015, p. 2521., doi:10.1364/ol.40.002521.

Zhou, Gang, et al. “Superhydrophobic Self-Cleaning Antireflective Coatings on Fresnel Lenses by Integrating Hydrophilic Solid and Hydrophobic Hollow Silica Nanoparticles.” RSC Advances, vol. 3, no. 44, 2013, p. 21789., doi:10.1039/c3ra43830a.

Citek, Karl. “Anti-Reflective Coatings Reflect Ultraviolet Radiation.” Optometry - Journal of the American Optometric Association, vol. 79, no. 3, 2008, pp. 143–148., doi:10.1016/j.optm.2007.08.019.