Anti-Reflective (AR) Coating

Crizal is the best known anti-reflective (AR) coating on the market, and also the best and the most expensive.  Before you choose Crizal, think carefully about whether you even need or want anti-reflective coating on your glasses.  Anti-reflective AR coating is chosen by 28.5% of eyewear shoppers in the United States, compared to 50-90% in Europe.  There are many reasons that could contribute to this gap, but the primary reason is probably the bad history that anti-reflective AR coating had in its early years.  Do you remember back in the 1990’s when anti-reflective AR coatings regularly flaked, stained, and got psychedelic colors?  It was a nightmare for opticians because customers got angry and would blame them for selling an expensive coating that did not perform well.

Well, the clock has turned and anti-reflective AR coating is now completely reliable, whether you choose the more expensive Crizal AR coating, or the less expensive AR coatings that are available.  Yes, if you leave your glasses on the dashboard of your car in Florida, the anti-reflective AR coating could show signs of stress, but this falls in the category of abuse.  Anti-reflective AR coating does cost an additional $20 to $90 depending on the lens it is coating, but there are significant benefits to anti-reflective AR coating.  Whether it is right for you – if it is worth the extra cost – is your decision.  Your glasses will work fine without AR coating, but the relaxation to your eyes and improved vision may be worth it.

What is Anti-reflective AR coating?

Anti-reflective AR coating is a series of layers that is adhered to the back and front surface of a lens, or just the back of the lens if the lens is polarized.  The purpose of anti-reflective AR coating is to help reduce the amount of reflections on the lens.  Consisting of metal oxides, each layer is a thin film that is designed to block a specific wavelength of light.  The more layers of film, the more wavelengths that are blocked.  AR coating causes the light that reflects from the inner and outer surfaces of each film layer to become equal, thereby canceling each other out.

In the 80’s and 90’s, anti-reflective AR coatings had a single layer which would craze, scratch or smudge easily.  Today’s AR coatings includes a harder layer of scratch resistant coating, in addition to oleophobic (anti-oil), hydrophobic (anti-liquid), and anti-static layers.  These extra layers help to repel the things that lead to smudging and scratching.   They also help to make the lenses easier to clean and thereby reduce surface scratches from excessive cleaning.

Premium Coatings offers three basic types of coatings.  On our least expensive lenses and within a restricted prescription range, anti-reflective AR coatings are an extra $20.  This is possible because the lenses are coated in a mass production  of tens of thousands of lenses.  On other lenses that are custom made, we offer a $59 anti-reflective AR coating which is an excellent coating.  However, it is not quite as good at the premium Crizal AR coatings offered by Essilor.

Anti-reflective AR coatings always work better when they are made by the same maker as the lens itself.  For example, Zeiss AR coatingworks best on Zeiss lenses, Pentax AR coating works best on Pentax lenses, and Crizal AR coatings work best on Essilor and Varilux lenses.  The reason for this is that the manufacturers each have their own formula for the underlying lens.  That formula bonds best to an anti-reflective AR coating that is of the same chemical family. Premium anti-reflective AR coatings are actually bonded to the lens surface, becoming one with the lens.

Benefits of Anti-reflective AR coating

Anti-reflective AR coating allows 8% more light to enter the eye.  That 8% of light was bouncing off the outside of the lens, causing other people to see a shiny spot on your glasses and preventing them from seeing your eyes.  Also, when a light source is overhead or behind you (as is often the case), light reflects off the inside of your lens and bounces into your eye, increasing eye fatigue.

When there is more available light to your eye, you can see better and more clearly.  The result is a clearer, sharper vision and reduced eyestrain, which would benefit everyone.  However in some situations, the benefits are more noticeable:

Workplace – Fluorescent lighting, computer screens, cash registers etc. all cause an increase of reflections in the workplace.  This increase in reflections causes eye straing, headaches, fatigue and a decrease in work productivity.

Night Driving – External reflections are a major problem when it comes to driving safely at night.  The reflections from oncoming headlights, streetlamps, and the road can cause distractions and discomfort to the driver.  Internal reflections can cause ghost images and result in a decrease in reaction time.

Sunglasses – Anti-reflective AR coating on the back side of sunglass lenses eliminate some problems.  First is the annoying image of the eye that is reflected in the center of the lens and can be very distracting.  Second is the glare hazard that is caused by the mirror effect of a dark lens.  With sunglass lenses, light from behind the wearer can be reflected directly into the eye from the back of the lens surface, causing discomfort.

Cosmetic – Without anti-reflective AR coating, reflections on the lenses will prevent people from seeing your eyes.  Actors, newscasters, and businessmen prefer AR so that their audience and associates can clearly see their eyes.

Eyeglasses Categories

There are many different types of prescription glasses that are out there. For example, most eyeglasses frames are unisex, meaning they work both for men and women.  We have created some categories for mens eyeglasses, womens eyeglasses, and kids eyeglasses to make it a little easier for you.

If you have a high prescription, you may be looking for small eyeglasses so that the lens is not too thick at the edges.  If you are a large person and have trouble finding eyeglasses big enough to fit you, check out our selection of big eyeglasses.

The retro eyeglasses look is all the rage now, and coming back strong.  We have the largest selection of round eyeglasses on the internet, and we also have a beautiful collection of vintage eyeglasses and retro eyeglasses.




Dan Thornbury

Dan Thornbury wrote on 02/10/10 1:38 AM

I've used you before and am an ex-optician who has been very happy with Crizal, in particular, their scratch resistance. Being out of the loop here where I'm at. I was wondering about the difference between Crizal and the new Avance. In the end it will still be about the scratch resistance due to my job and constant dirt and sand. There's no info or insights at the moment in on your AR learning page about their respective attributes in relation to each other. Thanks for your attention on this since it's hard for me to call you. --Dan
Mark Agnew

Mark Agnew wrote on 02/10/10 7:46 AM

Avance is the same as Crizal, but it also includes Scotchguard. Essilor claims that it help to repel dust; less dust means less micro-scratching when people rub lenses to clean them. Check out this article in our Learning Center for more info:
Mary Lemke

Mary Lemke wrote on 09/09/10 3:45 PM

I bought glasses with antireflective coating on them in July of 2009 from Target Optical. They said this coating was not like the old ones and would not go bad. Now one year and one month later they are smudged and looking through them is like looking through glasses with fingerprints on them. I never cleaned them with anything other than plain water with a soft cloth. Target says there is nothing they can do about it and I would need to order new lenses for $350.00. I will never get that coating again!
Alan Cudney

Alan Cudney wrote on 11/01/10 5:48 PM

I bought glasses in February 2009 at a WalMart Vision Center. The coating is already beginning to deteriorate, although I have always cleaned the glasses with water or cleaner and soft cloth. Is AR coating a tactic to make you replace your lenses sooner?
Mark Agnew

Mark Agnew wrote on 11/01/10 6:48 PM

Anti-reflective (AR) coating is not designed to fail. There are cases where AR coating comes off more easily: For example, if the lenses are resting on the skin, and the skin is highly acidic, the AR coating can discolor. If the glasses are left on the dashboard of a car in full sun or other extremely hot circumstances, this can also cause the coating to flake. AR coating is a coating applied to the lenses, and some AR coatings work better than others. For example, Crizal AR coating comes with a two year warrantee against such failures.

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