Are Anti-Glare Coatings Worth it? Pros, Cons & Costs

6 sources cited
Vision Center is funded by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase something via one of our links.

What are Anti-Glare Glasses?

Anti-glare (AG) glasses are eyeglass lenses fused with an anti-reflective coating to prevent glare from either side of the lens. They enhance comfort, reduce eye strain, and improve the cosmetic appearance of glasses. 

When the glare is eliminated, more light (99%) passes through the lens, optimizing visual clarity during night driving or when using a computer. 

Anti-glare lenses also help improve your facial appearance. With the glare eliminated, the lenses appear crystal clear, drawing better attention to your eyes and enhancing eye contact during interactions. 

Sometimes, your optician may refer to them as anti-reflective (AR) glasses or multi-layered-anti-reflectives (MAR).

Where to Buy Glasses + Contacts

Best Overall: Warby Parker

Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect

Also Great: Liingo

Best Place to Buy Contacts: 1800 Contacts

How Does Anti-Reflective Coating Work?

The anti-reflective coating is composed of multiple layers of metal oxides applied to the front and back surfaces of the lens. In the case of polarized lenses, only the back side of the lens is coated, or the polarized film is encased within the lens.1  

Anti-reflective coatings form very thin layers (about 0.2 to 0.3 microns thick). These layers block the amount of light reflected into the eye, allowing in more visible light required for clear vision.

The anti reflective layer does not adequately protect the eyes against harmful UV rays. Reliable UV protection is an added feature, depending on the type or brand.

Modern AG glasses are designed to last long unless exposed to harsh conditions. Some of the best, like Crizal Prevencia and Hoya Super HiVision, are scratch and smudge-resistant.

Some eyeglass lenses come with factory-applied AG. Others, such as progressive and multifocal lenses, undergo anti-glare coating after they've been customized to your specific needs.

Pros and Cons of Anti-Glare Glasses

Anti-reflective lens coatings were initially despised in the US market due to a bad reputation for durability. However, the latest versions are designed to last. 

Although anti-glare glasses are not a necessity, they provide numerous benefits that make them worth it.

Pros of Anti-Glare Glasses

The benefits of anti-glare glasses include:

1. Enhanced Visual Quality

AG glasses help you to focus on detail better than conventional eyeglasses do. Eliminating reflected light from your glasses enables more light to reach your eyes, thus clear vision even in low light conditions.

2. Durable

Advanced versions apply non-peel technology where the anti-glare compounds are fused into the lens during production. 

3. Reduce Eye Strain and Enhance Comfort

Research indicates that 60% of Americans experience some form of digital eye strain.2 When engaged in high-focus activities such as reading on a computer screen, squinting to see clearly may cause:

  • Neck/shoulder pain 
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Blurred vision 
  • Dry eyes

Continuous squinting can cause significant harm to your eyes, including conditions such as esotropia (inward turning of the eyes).3

Glare can cause you to squint. Wearing AG glasses provides a glare-free and comfortable visual experience.

4. UV and Blue Light Protection

Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can damage your eyes. 

Although anti-glare eyeglasses offer minimal protection against these harmful rays, they can be enhanced with UV protective features such as polarization or photochromic technology. 

Photochromic lenses are light-sensitive lenses that darken or fade back based on light intensity.4

AG coatings can also lessen exposure to harmful blue light emitted from digital devices such as LED screens.

5. Easy to Clean

Anti-glare glasses are constructed using compounds that help keep dirt, smudges, and watermarks away.

Clean only with mild soap and warm water or a non-alcohol spray cleaner. Dry the lenses with a soft microfiber cloth to avoid scratches.

6. Wide Field of View

The wide field of view benefits people with hyperopia (farsightedness), who may need glasses for activities such as driving, reading, or watching television.

7. Improve Your Appearance

Eliminating glare means the lenses appear clear all the time. This makes your eyes more visible behind the lenses. It also makes your eyeglass frames more appealing, which improves your appearance.

Cons of Anti-Glare Glasses

Even with the multiple benefits, anti-glare glasses have their share of drawbacks:

  • Any scratches on the lens can reduce visual acuity
  • Some are prone to scratches or peels if not handled with care
  • Dirt is visible due to the absence of glare
  • Cannot be repaired (replacement only)
  • Thin lenses get worn out over time
  • The anti-reflective coating may wear off over time
  • Expensive than regular prescription glasses
  • It may worsen conditions such as cataracts or macular degeneration
  • May cause headaches

How to Choose the Right AR Coating 

There are several makers of anti-glare glasses, each with their own specifications. For example, the AG coating can be single or multiple-layered. 

The more the layers, the more the glare-blocking ability. Quality brands often have multiple layers and cost more. 

Your lifestyle may also dictate the kind of anti-glare coating that's best for you. If you spend most of your time on a TV or computer screen, your eye doctor will recommend blue light blocking lenses, such as Crizal Prevencia or Shamir Glacier Plus.

Be sure to check your optician's grading scale for the AG lenses. It's always better to choose the high index lenses for better visual results.

How Much Do Anti-Glare Glasses Cost?

Anti-glare glasses often cost more than standard prescription glasses, but they're not out of reach, and the cost is worth it considering the benefits. 

The cost of anti-reflective lenses depends on factors such as lens type, frame design, and coating quality.

The price may also change from one optician to another based on experience or location. Furthermore, whether or not your insurance covers you will dictate how much you pay.  

On average, adding an anti-glare coating to your lenses may cost about $20 to $150 more than your initial cost.

Anti-Glare vs. Blue-Blocking Lenses

Anti-glare lenses and blue-blocking lenses function to reduce eye strain. 

AG lenses have an anti-reflective coating that prevents back glare, allowing the full spectrum of visible light to pass through. This includes a significant amount of blue light, which is considered harmful to vision. 

On the other hand, blue-cut lenses are blue light blocking glasses. They filter out about 10% to 90% or emitted blue light

These lenses reduce digital eye strain, especially when working at night. According to research, anti-blue light glasses can potentially lower the risk of macular degeneration.6

Summary

  • Anti-glare (AG) glasses are eyeglass lenses fused with an anti-reflective coating to prevent reflections from both sides of the lens
  • They enhance comfort, reduce eye strain and improve the cosmetic appearance of your eyeglasses
  • The anti-reflective coating is composed of multiple layers of metal oxides applied to the front and back surfaces of the lens
  • These AG coatings block the amount of light reflected into the eye, allowing in more light. This enables clear vision
  • Anti-glare glasses are durable, easy to clean, protective, offer a wide field of view, and improve visual acuity
  • They also cost more than uncoated lenses

Best Places to Buy Glasses

Best Overall

Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.

Also Great

Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.

Best on a Budget

EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.

Best Places to Buy Contacts

Best Overall

1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.

Also Great
glasses usa logo

GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.

6 Cited Research Articles
  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. “What Are Polarized Lenses For?,” www.aao.org, 2022.
  2. The Vision Council. “The Vision Council Shines Light On Protecting Sight – And Health – In A Multi-Screen Era,” thevisioncouncil.org, 2019.
  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Esotropia,” www.aao.org, 2020
  4. Renzi-Hammond,  et al., “The Effect of a Photochromic Contact Lens on Visual Function Indoors: A Randomized, Controlled Trial,”  National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 2020.
  5. Consumer Reports. “How to take care of your eyeglasses,” consumerreports.org, 2012.
  6. Glazer-Hockstein et al., “Could Blue Light–Blocking Lenses Decrease the Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration?,” RETINA, 2006.
Vision Center Logo
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

All about Vision Center

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram