An anti-reflective coating, or AR, is applied to lenses to reduce glare caused by light hitting the back of lenses. This coating has also been called anti-glare, no-glare or glare-free. Read on to discover if anti-reflective coatings are worth the cost for you.
Anti-Reflective Coatings of the Past
In the past, AR coatings may have been deemed more of a drawback than a benefit. Lenses with the coating needed to be constantly cleaned; the coating peeled and it scratched easily. It’s no wonder that many of today’s patients tend to shy away from AR coatings offered by their opticians. However, over the past few years, several improvements have been made.
AR Coatings are Now New and Improved
New generation AR coatings are tough, durable and provide superior vision. Calling it a “coating” is really inaccurate because, unlike past versions, it’s actually fused onto the lens.
The new AR coatings also contain chemicals that make the lens surface repel water and grease, which keeps the lenses cleaner, longer and makes them much easier to clean when they do become dirty.
The Development of Anti-Reflective Coating
Anti-reflective coating was first developed to enhance and improve the view on high-powered telescopes, microscopes and camera lenses. AR coating is made up of multiple layers of metal oxides applied to the front and sometimes the back surfaces of the lenses. The layering effect cuts reflected light to allow more light to be transmitted through the lens.
Benefits to Eyeglass Wearers
For people who wear eyeglasses, this means that the appearance of your eyes to the outside world is enhanced. AR coating makes the lenses appear almost invisible and, by reducing internal reflections in the lenses, makes them appear much thinner.
Also, the quality of your vision is improved because the coating reduces reflected lights, which cuts down on glare and halos around lights and improves your night vision. In certain work situations, it also helps cut glare when using the computer.
High Index Lenses
AR coating is helpful for anyone wearing glasses but it is found almost exclusively on high index lenses. This is because high index lenses are made out of a type of plastic that makes your lenses much thinner than regular plastic lenses and that can cause annoying reflections.
That’s why manufacturers who make high index lenses make AR a part of the complete lens price. They believe that a high index lens should never be worn without the AR coating.
Making an Informed Choice
Some opticians may offer you a choice of “good, better and best” AR coatings. The best grade will always be the most expensive. Be aware that the lower cost coatings don’t usually have the improved qualities discussed above.
A mid-to-high-end coating is well worth the money, not only in better vision but also because these coatings have better warranties. Often times, lenses coated with one of the better quality coatings will be replaced at no charge if they scratch within a year.