Picture of an example of anti-reflective lenses, in a pair of eyeglasses.

Anti Glare Lenses Pros and Cons

Anti glare lenses have found their way into most optical applications over the past three decades.  They’ve become widely available, affordable, and more durable in recent times. But anti glare lenses scratch easily and are still rather expensive to buy or replace.  Definitely good and bad to them.  So in this post, we discuss anti glare lenses pros and cons as we have seen from wearing perhaps ten pairs of  them over the years.  Nonetheless though, whatever drawbacks these lenses present, have not discouraged us from AG lenses on every pair of glasses bought since 1988.

Anti Glare Lenses Advantages, Benefits, and Pros

Improve Vision  

Also enhances picture contrast and overall clarity.  This happens by significantly reducing internal reflections within the lens.  These anti glare lenses often benefit folks who get headaches and eye fatigue due to all the “filtering out” of this noise light that their brains must perform, to make the best sense out of the images their eyes are picking up.  Anti glare lenses improve night driving especially, as well as daytime driving on those very clear, low humidity days, when the sun is a blazing in a deep blue sky.

Anti Glare Lenses Reduce the Halo Effect

Particularly in high-plus lenses like ours, since the front of the convex lens is shaped very much like a bowl, reflections within the lens are actually directed and focused into the eye, and fall onto the exact spots on the retina that the desired image does.  In effect, the non treated lenses become like a parabolic dish reflector, and thus, intensifying the halo effect, that surrounds objects in the desired vision.  With the reduced reflections provided by anti glare lenses, comes much reduced halo.  A lower halo effect not only improves night vision. But it also clears up the blurred vision that can sometimes result from working too many hours at the computer screen.  I.e. Contrast between text and background colors is improved as well as the finer details of the letters.

Anti Glare Lenses Help in Detailed Work

Without these lenses, problems of haze, glare, and seeing “double vision” get worse. This can interfere with the performance of finely detailed work, such as working with small screws and parts, and reading the extra fine print on printed circuit boards, et al.

Anti Glare Lenses Improve Eye Contact

Often others cannot see a person’s eyes if they’re wearing eyeglasses.  But anti glare lenses increase visibility of the eyes behind those glasses, by dimming the mirror effect that most smooth glass and plastics have.  Thus, since solid eye contact is essential for best non verbal communications, anti reflective lenses probably enhance a person’s abilities to fully participate in and enjoy social situations.  People like seeing our eyes.

They can Reapply the Coatings on Anti Glare Lenses

Not all eyeglasses manufactures will do this.  But we’ve had ours redone from time to time.  They are able to strip off the failed anti glare properties, polish any small scratches out of the lens itself, and then apply fresh coatings of anti glare.  It’s much cheaper if a faulty coating is all that’s wrong with a pair of glasses, to replace just that coating, rather than buying a whole new set.

Anti Glare Lenses Now Feature Anti Scratch Coatings

Some of the better anti glare lens coatings now have an anti scratch coating, on top of the anti glare coating.  This adds cost to the lens, for sure.  But it also increases durability.  We always opt for anti scratch on our specs nowadays.

Proper Cleaning Chemicals are Inexpensive

We’ve used basic dish soap at the kitchen sink to clean our anti glare lenses for decades without problems.  But, we suggest that you avoid using soaps that contain lotions, strong fragrances, or oily skin softeners.  You want a very gentle detergent that quickly rinses clean, and leaves absolutely no deposits behind.

Picture of a typical eyeglasses with anti reflective coating. Anti Glare Lenses Pros and Cons.
Typical eyeglasses with anti reflective coating.

Anti Glare Lenses Disadvantages, Problems, Limitations, and Cons

Anti Glare Lenses are Easily Damaged

These coatings tend to be quite thin, and this makes them very easily rubbed off, scratched, or otherwise damaged by even modest levels of abuse.

Smudges Show Up More

The anti glare properties are seriously impacted by fingerprints, water, or most any other liquid.  So they produce much more glare when wet or oily.  So clean your glasses and anti glare lenses often, to keep them working well.

Too Much Cleaning Ruins Anti Glare Lenses Fast

Too frequent cleaning of anti glare lenses can also impact glare reduction.  Thus, we recommend cleaning them no more than once per day.  Se our   How To Clean Anti Reflective Eyeglasses  article, for hints and tips on keeping your specs and in shipshape, and performing like new, for years.

The Anti Glare Lenses Coating can be Expensive

Lens manufactures still charge a lot for these glare reducing coatings.  Our last pair of specs cost an additional $100 for this feature.  In fact, prices for this have steadily gone up through the years in our experience.  We hope though, that eventually, this advance in optics design will eventually appear on all eyeglasses by default, as it seems to have little or no negative impacts on actual lens performance.

Not Yet Found in Contact Lenses

Unfortunately, anti glare surfaces are not yet available for contact lenses due to the fact that these coatings work most effectively when applied to the outer surfaces of lenses, and contact lenses are always kept wet by eye tears while worn.

Must Be Applied to Both Sides of Lenses

To be most effective, anti glare coatings must be applied to both sides of lenses.  Particularly on the eye-side of eyeglasses lenses, where lenses are on the thicker side, eyelashes and eyebrows often touch the lenses and leave behind sebum and other skin oils.  These, as noted, affect how well the coating tones down pesky glare.

Anti Glare Lenses are Not Well Suited for Young Children

Children who wear glasses from toddlerhood can destroy anti glare lens coatings quickly with their rough play. So, to avoid needless replacement expenses, it’s probably best not to give them glasses with this feature. Instead, wait until they show that they value and can take good care of their eyeglasses.

Special Cleaning Cloths Needed for Anti Glare Lenses

In our experience, it’s best to use only a microfiber cleaning cloths to clean your anti glare lenses.  You can buy these for a few dollars apiece at most vision shops and optometrists offices.  Many will give you a couple if you buy your eyeglasses from them.  Now these lenses are too delicate to survive repeated dry cleanings, with rougher cloth materials.  E.g. cCothing, facial tissues, paper towels, and napkins.  So, it’s best to clean only with very soft, lint free microfiber materials.

Anti Glare Lenses May Irritate the Eyes of Sensitive People

Depending on the design strategy of the particular lens, some actually route more light into the eye.  The light that would have otherwise been reflected away by the outer lens surfaces.  Have never found this to cause us eyestrain or headaches though.  But they can add a small amount of neutral density (gray) shading to anti reflective lenses.  This would darken the lens a bit, andthus, correct for this increased light into the eyes.  We feel that the reduced halo effect light offered by the anti glare lenses treatments more than balances out this added light.

Anti Glare Lenses are a bit Heavier

These coatings are so thin, that any additional mass they impart to the lenses (milligrams at the max) is minuscule. Not a major concern.

Anti Glare Lenses Pros and Cons Wrap Up

Anti glare glasses technology is quite solid and helpful in the majority of situations. Thus, we highly recommend it to anyone who wears spectacles.  The pros far out balance the cons.

Other Posts About Anti Glare Lenses

  1. How to Clean Anti Glare Glasses

References for Anti Glare Lenses Pros and Cons

  1. Anti Reflective Coatings     on Wikipedia

Revision History

  • 2020-12-11: First released.