Anti-Reflective coatings.
Worth the expense?

What is an anti-reflective coating?

An anti-reflective or anti-reflective coating (AR coating) is a type of optical coating applied to a spectacle lens surface to reduce reflections. This coating can make a significant difference in the quality of vision and your face’s cosmetic appearance behind the frame.

 Fig 1: Ordinary lens vs anti-reflective lens.

How do AR coatings work?

Glare or bright light can be uncomfortable and affect the quality of your vision. AR coatings eliminate reflections from both sides of a lens surface. This result in more light that passes through the lens and improves your vision. The lens also appears invisible and draw attention to your eyes and facial expressions. At night, it reduces glare and “halos,” making night driving safer.

 Fig 2: Before and after applying AR coatings on lenses.

Applying AR coatings to a lens is a highly technical process that involves some lenses having factory-applied AR coatings on both lens surfaces. It happens during the manufacturing stage. Other lenses, particularly bifocals and multifocals, have the coating applied after the lenses have been customised to your prescription by our optical lab.


When would you need AR coatings?

Everyone can benefit from AR coatings, especially those who:

    • Work consistently in front of computer screens and use other devices.
    • Drive regularly, whether at night (when glare from the headlights of oncoming traffic can affect your vision) or in the day (when bright sunlight can have the same effect).
    • Work under bright sunlight conditions and need protection from UV exposure.

Modern higher prescription lenses are considerably thinner and more lightweight due to the latest manufacturing techniques. This weight reduction’s side effect is an uncomfortable increase in reflections from the lens surface. It is therefore highly recommended to apply an AR coating to neutralise the impact of reflections.

What are the benefits?

There are many benefits of AR coatings:

    • With no reflections, it improves your vision and clarity.
    • You will squint less, therefore reducing eye strain.
    • It reduces discomfort working in front of a computer screen, making you more productive.
    • An AR coating makes your glasses look more cosmetically attractive, especially as your eyes will be more visible without the light reflections on the lenses.

How do you choose an AR coating that is best for you?

Selecting an AR coating is not an easy choice due to the large variety available. There are differences in price, quality, function, features and warranties. Thus, selecting the right coating depends on the circumstances in which you will be wearing your glasses and your lifestyle.

Premium AR coatings are more scratch resistant compared to Standard AR coatings. It benefits people with active lifestyles and children who are hard wearing on their spectacles.

 Fig 3: Premium coating: Improves smudge resistance.

If you spend many hours working at a computer, you will benefit from an AR coating that filters out blue light. Read my article on “What you need to know about blue light exposure.”

Driving is one of the most demanding activities on your visual system. Sunlight bouncing of reflective surfaces during the day and bright light and glare at night can all compromise your vision. Specifically designed lenses with the correct AR coating will minimise stress on the visual system and provide a more relaxed driving experience.

What is the difference between Standard and Premium AR coatings?

Standard AR coatings would be sufficient for everyone if reflections were the only issue. However, the reality is that many more elements come in to contact with your lenses than just light.

 Standard AR coating consists of two layers:

    • Anti-reflective
    • Scratch-resistance

 Premium coatings consist of multiple layers with additional benefits:

    • More effective anti-reflective properties
    • Improved scratch resistance
    • Hydrophobic (Water repellent)
    • Oleophobic (Reduces fingerprints)
    • Anti-static (Repels dust)
    • UV protection
    • Blue light protection

Fig 4: Standard lenses (left) vs Premium lenses (right).

Premium AR coatings have a longer lifespan due to the durability of the advanced multi-layer application process. If you are looking for the best protection, increased clarity and the most durable coating, make sure you get a premium AR coating.

Tips for caring for your AR coating lenses:

Lens cleaners with harsh chemicals will damage the AR coating. Use good quality lens wipes or cleaning solution. Do not clean AR coated lenses without wetting them first; it will cause scratches on a dry lens.


    • Wash your hands.
    • Drop a pea-sized amount of cleaner or Sunlight liquid onto the lenses and rub slightly.
    • Rinse the lenses and frame under running lukewarm water.
    • Use your microfiber cloth to dry.

Next time you choose an AR coating, make sure you choose the right one for your daily lifestyle.

Love Your Eyes!

Elke Smit

Elke is the owner of Eyestyle Optometrist. Her passion is to promote eye health and eye care but she is even more passionate about the people behind the eyes. The most important factor is good eyesight which gives us the ability to see the beauty in all things around us.

Your eyes are the window to your soul and most spectacle wearers wear their glasses for the better part of the day.

Choosing the appropriate eyewear is not always easy! Eyewear should feel comfortable, and suitable for everyday challenges.