Standard vs. Premium AR Coatings
Updated: Jul 10, 2019
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When ordering prescription glasses, you’ll be presented with several options, including:
Hi-Index materials to reduce lens thickness on higher powers
Photochromatic lenses to give you a sunglass alternative
Anti-Reflective (AR) coating
The purpose of most lens upgrades is self-explanatory but selecting an Anti-Reflective coating isn’t always an easy choice to make due to the variety. There are differences in price, function and features. In this article we’ll be taking a deeper look into each, so you can make the right choice for your next set of glasses.
How do Anti-Reflective coatings work?
At the most basic level, all AR coatings defuse light reflections on the front and back surface of the lens, allowing more light to pass through and improving your visual acuity. Reducing reflections is especially helpful in situations where you have a light source directly hitting your lenses, such as with computer use and night driving. (See Ex.1)
Ex.1 AR coating improves the sharpness and clarity of you vision by diffusing light reflections on your lenses. (Image Source)
With an AR coating, light hitting the front surface of the lens can pass through instead of bouncing off. Having the back of the lens coated prevents light that’s shining behind you from bouncing off the back of the lens and back into your eye. This dual surface coating provides crisp, clear vision in all light conditions.
Standard AR coating would be just fine for everyone if reflections were the only issue. However, the reality is there are many more elements coming in contact with your lenses than just light.
Premium Anti-Reflective Coating Features
Premium coatings, such as those developed by Crizal, Zeiss, Shamir and many others, are comprised of unique formulas which:
Help prevent scratches
Significantly easier to clean
Premium AR coatings go above and beyond simply reducing reflections.
A Standard AR coating is typically comprised of two layers:
Premium AR coatings have multiple layers, such as:
Anti-Reflective that is virtually colorless
Improved Scratch Resistance
Hydrophobic (Water repellant)
Oleophobic (Reduces finger prints)
Anti-Static (Repels dust)
Blue Light Protection
Standard AR coatings, though they can do a good job of reducing reflections, would still have a noticeable greenish hue. Premium AR has advanced to the point where the AR layer itself is virtually colorless. This means that it will not only diminish reflections on your lens, but you’ll also eliminate those greenish light flares that can be present on Standard AR coatings.
Improved Scratch Resistance
Premium AR coatings are significantly better at resisting scratches from the trials of day to day wear and tear than Standard AR coatings. Kids, in particular, benefit greatly from the improved scratch resistance on Premium AR coatings.
The hydrophobic layer repels water, making the lenses easier to clean and it also helps to prevent fogging. This is a great feature for people that are regularly exposed to winter elements such as rain and snow.
As much as we try, we end up touching our glasses many times throughout the day and in the process we leave fingerprints and smudges behind. The advanced Oleophobic layer on Premium AR coatings makes it easy to wipe away oils from fingerprints and eyelashes. No more excessive rubbing when you clean your lenses.
When cleaning lenses with a Standard AR coating, rubbing a cloth against the lens would create a static charge that attracts dust particles. Many premium AR coatings have solved this problem by creating an Anti-Static property which reverses the static charge every time you wipe your lenses with a microfiber cleaning cloth.
Crizal was the first AR manufacturer to include UV protection across their entire AR coating line. Their UV protection is so advanced that harmful UV light is bounced off the front surface of the lens but allowed to pass through the back surface. This was done in response to a 2007 study which revealed all AR coatings were reflecting UV light back towards the eye when UV would hit the back surface.
Many, but not all manufacturers, have followed suit. Be sure to check with your prescription eyewear provider if you want to be certain.
Blue Light Protection
Overexposure to short wavelength blue light (380-500nm) has been clinically linked to sleep disorders, and with the average adult spending over 10 hours a day on digital devices, blue light blocking AR is a Premium AR coating which limits the amount of harmful blue light reaching the eye by 20%.
Keep in mind that AR coatings designed to block blue light have a noticeable blue or pink hue. It is suggested to only use this coating for computer glasses and not for glasses that you'll be wearing full time indoors and out.
Thanks to the advanced multi-layer application process, Premium AR coatings have a longer lifespan than Standard AR coatings.
What Anti-Reflective Coating Should You Order?
If you are looking for the best in class protection, clearest field of view and the most durable coating, make sure you get a premium AR coating. They could increase the cost of your lenses by over $120 but hopefully now you'll see why and you may just find it a worthy investment.
For Blue Light protection and durability during those long hours on the computer, going with a coating with blue light protection is the way to go. Just remember, it isn't suggested for glasses that you'll wear all day. The pink or bluish hue could be a little distracting.
I hope this guide helps you in your next purchase of prescription glasses. Thank you for reading. Have an awesome day.
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