Anti-reflective coatings, sometimes called anti-glare coatings, are the best-selling coating at rx-able.com, and most people will opt for a coating on their lenses. However, the benefits of anti-reflective coatings go far beyond limiting the reflection from the lens. The wearer will benefit not just from less reflection but will have more clarity and less eye strain, especially when people are spending more and more time looking at bright screens.
How Anti-Reflective Coatings Work
The science behind anti-reflective coatings is surprisingly complex. The fact that by adding additional layers to a lens, you can make the lens clearer seems, at first, counterintuitive.
The effect was first noticed in the nineteenth century by Lord Rayleigh. Rayleigh was a British scientist whose interests included studying light (he gave his name to ‘Rayleigh scattering,’ which is best known for explaining why the sky is blue). At the time, glasses lenses would, over time, develop a tarnish. However, when examining them, Rayleigh noticed something unexpected with them. Instead of the tarnish blocking light, the tarnished lenses actually allowed more light through a lens than when they were new, clear lenses.
Science has progressed a lot since Rayleigh tested his tarnished lenses and, with it, brought a lot more understanding of how light works. Technology has also improved, making it possible to create layers that precisely affect the refraction of light. Together these make it possible to develop anti-reflective coatings like those offered by rx-able.com.
The basic concept behind anti-reflective coatings is that as light passes through different substances, such as the air and a lens, it changes direction. This is called refraction and is the way that glasses will work by focusing light. However, some light is refracted so much it becomes a reflection. This is why you can see a reflection in windows, for example. An anti-reflective coating minimizes this. By changing the path that light must follow — instead of going from straight from air to lens it passes through the coating between — it changes the amount of refraction, directing more light through the lens and reflecting less light.
While science is complex, the key thing is that it works! A typical lens will transmit 88-92% of the light to the eye. Glasses with an anti-reflective coating will transmit around 99.5% of light.
How Much Are Anti-Reflective Coatings?
Rx-able.com offers anti-reflective coatings on all their lenses, and the price will vary depending on the lens and the coating you choose.
Our standard anti-reflective coating will improve your vision and reduce eye strain as well as reducing unsightly reflections. The coating has four layers, improving light transmission, reducing reflection, and adding scratch resistance. Prices start at $25 for our standard single vision and $29 for our standard progressive lenses. If you are buying Essilor lenses, then anti-reflective coatings are free with single vision lenses and $45 for our Essilor and Varilux progressive lenses.
Our premium anti-reflective coating adds even more. With six layers on each side of the lens, this offers the maximum possible light transmission. The final layer also adds a hydrophobic layer. This literally resists water and helps resist smudges on the lenses in the first place while making them easy to clean when needed. It also improves the scratch resistance of the lens. Premium coatings cost just $35 for single vision lenses and $49 for progressive lenses.
We also offer Crizal Avancé and Crizal Elize coatings on some lenses. Manufactured by Essilor, these coatings are only applied in Essilor labs, which adds two days to the manufacture time but offers some of the best anti-reflective coatings you can get. As well as best-in-class anti-reflective coatings, Essilor’s coatings will repel dust, resist smudges and protect against scratches. Crizal lenses also offer 100% UV protection, helping protect your eye’s health. Crizal coatings offer the very best anti-reflective coating for just $99.
Are Anti-Reflective Coatings Worth It?
Most people buying glasses will opt for an anti-reflective coating. The benefits have made it the most popular extra sold with glasses. Still, those benefits are not immediately obvious, and it is only over time wearing glasses with and without anti-reflective coating that the value offered becomes apparent.
One thing you are not likely to notice is the increased transmission of light. Although the difference between uncoated and coated lenses is large, over 10% more light is transmitted — the human eye and brain are so good at adapting that most people would not notice. However, the effects of this increased transmission are huge.
The biggest impact is that it reduces eye strain. Although you might not be able to detect the additional light that now passes through the lens, you will soon start to feel the benefit of your eyes and brain, not having to work quite so hard to see. Your eyes will feel fresher and less tired at the end of the day.
The coating will also remove glare. This will be most apparent in the evening when the surroundings are often darker, but lights provide bright spots. Uncoated lenses will often have a ‘halo’ around lights, a visible sign of the light being refracted and reflected. These haloes will be significantly smaller, or not even exist, on lenses with an anti-reflective coating. This means your vision will be clearer and without distractions, and anyone using a screen or driving will benefit from the reduced glare.
All coatings, but especially premium coatings, offer additional benefits in making the lenses more resistant to scratching, dust and smudges. Premium anti-reflection coatings will come with a hydrophobic layer that has been chemically bonded to the lens surface. This means that in ordinary wear, the glasses will need little intervention. They will stay clear despite accidental touches and even resist raindrops, avoid the need to constantly dry glasses, or remove them entirely if caught in the rain.
Essilor’s Crizal anti-reflect coating also blocks 100% of UV light. While many will associate UV protection with sunglasses, it is not the tint that protects the eyes but the filter. The effects of UV-A and UV-B on the skin are well known, but many people forget that it can have a harmful effect on the eyes too. Just like skin, the worst effects of UV radiation are long-term and cumulative, and the effects are not always reversible, so it’s sensible to take every opportunity you can to limit how much exposure to UV your eyes get.
Perhaps best of all is that anti-reflective coatings help you look your best. Having carefully chosen frames, whether, from rx-able.com or elsewhere that match your face and style, you don’t want them to be let down by the lenses flashing when you are talking to people. By allowing as much light as possible through the lens, an anti-reflective coating means that people can see your eyes more clearly when they are talking to you. And in today’s world of online video calls, it means that you, and most importantly your friends and colleagues, won’t see the screen reflected in your lens when you are in a chat or a meeting.
When Can’t You Use Anti-Reflective Coatings?
Buying anti-reflective coatings from rx-able.com is easy, and they are available on almost all the lenses we sell. The only exception is that we cannot put an anti-reflecting coating on an anti-fog lens. Essentially, the two coatings cannot be applied together.
This might present a difficult choice, especially if you suffer from fogging when wearing a mask or have a lifestyle that involves temperature changes, either because of climate or career, that causes condensation to form on lenses. However, there are alternatives to anti-fogging lenses. Anti-fogging sprays can help prevent fogging on lenses, with one application reducing fogging for up to five days, although the best results are achieved from applying the spray daily. A similar level of protection can be found with anti-fogging wipes. Using either means that you don’t have to choose between anti-reflection or anti-fogging.
How Do You Buy Anti-Reflective Coatings?
Coatings can be applied to any lens as long it has not been damaged. However, the easiest way is to buy the coating you want when you buy the lens. All our lenses, except anti-fogging lenses, have the option of anti-reflective glasses or coating. Choose the option when you are shopping at rx-able.com before you add your lenses to the cart.
When you are buying your lenses, anti-reflective coating options appear in the ‘upgrades’ dropdown menu. Click on that, and the available options for your lens will appear, along with any additional benefits and the price clearly displayed.
Anti-reflective coatings are the most popular enhancement for glasses. If you haven’t had a coating applied before, try it on your next pair of glasses, and you’ll soon see why.