Everything You Need to Know About Lens Coatings

Last Updated on May 16, 2023 by amy

It’s that time again. You’ve searched through dozens of frames and tried on a dozen more. You’ve talked with your eye doctor and figured out which lenses will best fit these perfect new frames. The search is finally over: you’ve found your new eyeglasses. It would be easy to think your work here is done, but you’ve overlooked one crucial step: lens coatings.

What are Lens Coatings?
Lens coatings are microscopically thin layers of protective coating added to your eyewear’s lenses. Lens coatings can improve your lenses’ performance, longevity, durability, and appearance and provide necessary protection for your lenses and eyes. In essence, lens coatings make you and your eyewear look nicer and more comfortable.

So, now we know what lens coatings are, but what are some of the most popular options for choosing a coating? Regarding lens coatings, three essential ones top the list: anti-glare, anti-scratch, and anti-UVA/UVB lens coatings.

What is Anti-Glare Lens Coating?
The most popular (and most recommended) form of lens coating is the anti-glare coating. This coating, or AR or anti-reflective coating, is a thin coating that helps eliminate the amount of light reflecting off your lenses’ surface. Not only does this lens coating help you see better, but it also helps people see you better. With the glare of your glasses out of the way, this lens coating also helps improve direct eye contact by making your lenses practically invisible, thus keeping your glasses from distracting others and your conversations intact!

This lens coating is also applied to the back of your lenses, making it all but essential if you drive late at night or sit in front of a screen at some point in the day. By eliminating the glare from your lenses, this lens coating keeps you safe, stylish, and comfortable during your day-to-day routine.

What is Anti-Scratch Lens Coating?
Before starting, it’s important to ensure that no lenses are completely “scratch-proof.” Anyone who’s ever had a pair of glasses knows that regardless of whether or not they’re your most expensive designer glasses or if they’re a five-dollar pair of sunglasses you picked up on your last vacation, glasses will eventually get scratched. It is a sad and unfortunate fact of life.

So wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to make your eyewear more resistant to these bumps and bruises? Well, that is exactly what an anti-scratch lens coating does! With this lens coating, the lenses are treated front and back with a coating that creates a harder surface on the lens, resulting in more scratch-resistant lenses and all-around more durable glasses.

This lens coating is a great option for anyone who finds themselves a bit clumsy, anyone who works in a trade or profession where nicks and scratches can happen more frequently, or those with children. And for children themselves, this lens coating is all but a necessity to ensure their glasses live a long life.

It’s also important to remember that while anti-glare lens coatings fall on the more standard side of coatings, anti-scratch lens coatings can fall more on the optional side of the coating spectrum, so be sure to mention this lens coating when choosing your eyewear specifically!

To ensure your eyewear looks scratch-free and new, keep them in their appropriate case and delicately clean them with a microfiber cloth each time to prevent scratching, no matter how enticing your shirt might seem!

What is Anti-UVA/UVB Lens Coating?
Sun protection is important. It’s safe to say that most of us know how harmful the sun can be to our bodies, as most of us wouldn’t even think of spending a minute in the sun without applying a layer of sunblock to our skin first. But do you provide the same concern and attention to protecting your eyes? Well, you should! And this is where the Anti-UVA/UVB lens coating comes in.

With this lens coating, lenses are treated with a coating that helps block both UVA and UVB rays that can be extremely damaging to our eyes. But what exactly are these rays, and what potential harm do they pose to our eyes?

UVA (or ultra-violet A) rays penetrate the deepest out of the two. These rays can penetrate through to our retinas, which can result in long-term damage and the eventual development of conditions like cataracts (a clouding of the lens that reduces vision), macular degeneration (the deterioration of the central part of the retina that can cause a loss of central vision and lead to eventual blindness), or a thickening of the sclera (the white of the eye) which can then lump up and leave you in great discomfort.

On the other hand, UVB (or ultra-violet B) rays, while filtered more by the ozone layer and thus penetrating less deeply, are the more intense. When it comes to our eyes, the cornea is the most affected by UVB rays, and exposure to UVB rays can lead to short-term damage, such as the development of a condition known as “snow-blindness,” an inflammation of the cornea that is essentially a sunburn in your eye. Ouch.

Whether we realize it or not, we spend a fair amount of time in the sun. Whether we’re enjoying the sun directly, say, spending a day at the beach or simply driving home on a sunny afternoon, whenever and wherever you come into contact with the sun, protection for your eyes is vital. The effects of UVA/UVB rays on our eyes intensify as we grow older, so the more time we spend in the sun over the course of our lives, the greater our chances of being vastly affected are.

Like the anti-scratch lens coating, while the anti-UVA/UVB lens coating is optional, it should be strongly considered for glasses wearers of all ages.

Speaking of the Sun, What Kind of Lens Coatings Are Available for Sunglasses?
When discussing the options one has when considering a lens coating, it’s natural to progress from a discussion of UVA/UVB lens coating on eyeglasses to a discussion of sunglasses and their prospective lens coatings. So, what kind of lens coatings are available for sunglasses?

Just like regular eyeglasses, sunglasses can be fitted with not only the prescription you need to see clearly, but they can also be fitted with all of the aforementioned lens coatings. Since sunglasses are worn primarily in direct sunlight, having anti-glare, anti-scratch, and especially anti-UVA/UVB lens coatings also seems like a no-brainer.

Besides these lens coatings, the most popular coatings for sunglasses are tints. One of the most popular forms of tinting is gradient tinting. Gradient tinting is a tint that is darker on the top half of the lens and then lighter on the bottom half. It’s tinted when looking through the top half, just like regular sunglasses. However, when looking through the bottom half, the glasses are crystal clear, like regular glasses. This tint is a great lens coating option if you spend a lot of time reading, writing, and doing close-up activities outdoors.

Alongside gradient tinting, there’s also regular tinting or color tinting. These lens coatings can be applied to either make a fashion statement or to serve an actual cause. Many people enjoy color tinting for aesthetic reasons. Still, certain color tints can be applied to sunglasses (as well as regular eyeglasses) for aid in things such as night driving, dyslexia, skiing, hunting, and even color blindness.

One of the most popular color tints right now is the orange tint. While a bright orange tint can be used for fashion purposes, a slight variation of this color tint is also used in certain eyeglass lenses to filter the blue light from the various screens we are bombarded with daily. By filtering blue light, this lens coating helps with problems associated with our technology-driven lives. Our constant exposure to this artificial blue light has led to millions suffering from increased eye strain, insomnia, headaches, blurry vision, circadian rhythm disruption, and lower serotonin levels. So if you, like many other people, find yourself in front of a computer day to day, looking into a tinted lens coating might be one of the best things you do for your eyes and overall health.

Regardless of the lens coating you choose is for your next pair of eyeglasses or a new pair of fun sunglasses, it is important that you not only consider them as a serious addition to your eyewear but investigate the various options available out there so that you can reap the benefits of top-notch eyewear.

So when you’re picking out your slick new frames and figuring out what type of lenses you’ll be needing for your new glasses, be sure to weigh your options of lens coatings evenly. You’ll look sleek and stylish, and your eyes will thank you later.