Anti-Reflective Coating on Glasses: Is It Worth It?

Benefits, Disadvantages, and Cost

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Anti-glare glasses are eyeglasses that have an anti-reflective coating on their lenses. Also known as AR, no-glare, or glare-free coating, this feature reduces glare caused by light hitting the surface of your lenses. With that, more light is able to pass through, leading to fewer visible distractions.

Anti-glare glasses can provide vision benefits in specific situations, such as night driving and computer use. While there is an added cost to having lenses made with anti-reflective coating, many users say it improves their vision and makes their eyeglasses look better.

This article discusses how anti-reflective coating works, the pros and cons of anti-glare glasses, who they are recommended for, and how much they will cost you.

Glasses with computer reflection
Tetra Images/ Getty Images

Benefits of Anti-Glare Glasses

"Coating" may evoke a picture of lenses being essentially painted with an anti-glare layer, much like you might put wax on a car after cleaning it. That's not the case.

Anti-reflective coating is actually fused onto the lens matrix, a technology that's evolved since anti-reflective coating was first available.

Anti-glare glasses coating was first developed for use with high-powered telescopes, microscopes, and camera lenses. It's made up of multiple layers of metal oxides applied to the front and back lens surfaces.

This layering effect reduces reflected light and allows more light to be transmitted through the lens.

Key benefits of anti-glare glasses are that they:

  • Are durable: The lenses are tough and the coating will not rub off over time.
  • Provide superior vision: A main reason anti-glare glasses are good for the eyes is that they allow more light to pass through to the eye, which helps prevent eye strain. It also makes it easier to see smaller print or patterns.
  • Stay cleaner, longer: Today's anti-reflective lenses also contain chemicals that make them water-resistant, which reduces the water and grease that stick to the lens surface. The lenses stay cleaner for a longer period of time and are easier to clean when they do become dirty.
  • Make lenses appear much thinner: The reduced internal reflection in the lens makes your lenses less noticeable, which is often desired by people with higher prescriptions (and thicker lenses).
  • Make your eyes more visible to others: Less glare means people can see more of you and fewer reflections.

Anti-Glare Glasses for Computer Use

Vision problems related to computer use are common. One study of computer vision syndrome in 334 students found that symptoms were higher in people who wear eyeglasses and people who see glare on their screens, especially among women.

Common symptoms included:

  • Headache
  • A sense of temporarily long- or short-sighted vision changes
  • Itchy eyes

While computer vision syndrome has many causes, such as poor ergonomics or posture when seated, the American Optometric Association lists eyeglass lens coatings among the range of treatments and solutions.

Anti-Glare Glasses for Night Driving

Glare while driving at night is a common problem, especially for people with certain eye conditions such as astigmatism. This eye disorder affects about one in three people, and it's the reason for why they see halos and glare around headlights and street lamps at night.

Corrective eyewear can help, although the yellow-tint glasses often touted to improve night driving vision haven't been shown to be all that effective in studies. Anti-reflective coating applied to eyeglass lenses, on the other hand, does reduce the glare and reflection.

Anti-glare glasses also may help people who are sensitive to light while driving in the daytime. AR coatings are available for sunglasses, too.

Disadvantages of Anti-Glare Coating

Anti-reflective technology has come a long way, but there are still some cons worth noting:

  • They need careful handling: You have to be more careful when cleaning anti-reflective lenses in order to avoid scratches or peels in the coating surface. Manufacturers recommend using a microfiber cloth when the lenses are rinsed, as opposed to wiping them with a shirt sleeve while they're dry.
  • Dirt is very visible: Though they stay cleaner for longer than standard lenses, when they are dirty, it's very evident because there's no glare to hide any particles or grime.
  • Cannot be repaired: Once damaged, the lenses will need to be replaced.

Do You Need Anti-Reflective Coating?

While they are not an outright necessity, anti-glare glasses do provider real benefits for anyone who wears glasses.

You may strongly want to consider getting anti-reflective coating if you notice symptoms of eye strain or spend a lot of time on screens and want to head these issues off.

Anti-glare glasses can also add to your safety on the road, which is important for anyone who has trouble with night driving, but especially those who do it often (e.g., truck drivers).

Anti-reflective coating is also particularly useful for those who:

  • Have glasses made with highly reflective lens types (high-index, polycarbonate, or aspheric)
  • Are tough on their glasses
  • Are bothered by the appearance of their glasses (reflections, thickness of lenses)

Cost and Ordering

If you are considering anti-reflective coating as you buy a pair of glasses, pay attention to the grading scale offered by your optician. Some opticians may offer a choice of "good, better, and best" (or a similar scale) with the "best" grade being considerably more expensive.

That said, choosing a mid- or higher-end coating can be well worth your money. Besides offering excellent vision benefits, these options also tend to carry better warranties and often may be replaced at no charge if your lenses scratch within a year.

Lenses with anti-reflective coating will always cost more than standard ones, but what you will ultimately end up paying depends on what grade of coating you choose and whether your insurance provider (if enrolled) covers all or part of the cost.

An example offered by EyeMed, a vision insurance company with 36 million members, puts the cost of lenses with premium anti-reflective coating in 2022 at $136. The same lenses are $337 without insurance.

AR Lens Options

Some quality brand name lenses made with anti-reflective coatings include:

  • Crizal Prevencia
  • Hoya Super HiVision
  • Shamir Glacier Plus
  • Zeiss DuraVision Platinum

It's worth asking your ophthalmologist or other eyecare provider about available AR coatings. Many brands are constantly updating their materials and producing superior products. 

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Optometric Association. How to Choose Eyeglasses for Vision Correction.

  2. Altalhi A, Khayyat W, Khojah O, Alsalmi M, Almarzouki H. Computer Vision Syndrome Among Health Sciences Students in Saudi Arabia: Prevalence and Risk Factors. Cureus. 2020 Feb 20;12(2):e7060. doi:10.7759/cureus.7060.

  3. American Optometric Association. Computer vision syndrome.

  4. American Academy of Opthalmology. Night driving glasses may hurt, not help.

  5. Marié S, Montés-Micó R, Martínez-Albert N, García-Marqués JV, Cerviño A. Evaluation of Physiological Parameters on Discomfort Glare Thresholds Using LUMIZ 100 Tool. Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2021 Jul 1;10(8):28. doi:10.1167/tvst.10.8.28.

By Troy Bedinghaus, OD
Troy L. Bedinghaus, OD, board-certified optometric physician, owns Lakewood Family Eye Care in Florida. He is an active member of the American Optometric Association.