When it comes to picking out a new pair of sunnies, most of us naturally focus our attention on those most obvious aspects of a pair of sunglasses: brand, frame style, color, suitability for our face shape. However, whilst looking cool is of course important, so is protecting our eyesight. Glare can sometimes impede, irritate, and otherwise impair your vision, so it’s vitally important that you select a suitable lens material and counteract that. In this blog post, we’ll learn all about lens coatings and anti-glare lenses, what they can do for you and your eyesight.
What are Anti-Glare and Anti-Reflective Lens Coatings?
Firstly, it’s useful to note that anti-glare lenses and anti reflective lenses are not necessarily the same thing. Anti-glare are often referred to as AG; anti-reflective = AR; and they work slightly differently, although their aim is the same and they can, in some instances, even be utilized together within the same pair of anti-glare glasses. In order to understand how they work, let’s compare the two and note the differences.
The clue is in the name, perhaps – anti-glare sunglasses aim to reduce glare, which is the issue of light bouncing back from external surfaces into the front of the sunglasses and reducing your clarity and resolution of vision as a result. It does this through a process of diffusion – the coating that the sunglasses are dipped in adds an imperceptible rough layer to the lenses, meaning that the glare is ‘scattered’ and not allowed to enter into them, keeping your eyes protected and your vision sharp and clear.
Unlike diffusion-based lens coatings, AR solutions work to decrease and block both external light and internal light sources.
An AR coating is composed of a thin, transparent, film, made up in turn of alternating layers of contrasting refractive material. This works to reduce the interference caused by dissipating, or seemingly absorbing, light – the light waves simply hit this coating and are ‘depowered’ and reduced as they pass through the many layers, almost like a filtering system.
AR is usually subtly applied to the inside of a pair of lenses. In color, it might take on light blue, green or purple hues. In essence, it cuts down on glare leaking in at the sides of your sunglasses and stops it reflecting back into your eyes from the inside of your lenses. Also worth noting is that because this film will block reflections coming in from the front and the back, it’s sometimes called an anti ‘back-glare’ coating.
In short, although anti-glare and anti-reflective sunglasses work slightly differently, they both hold the same aim – to block out unwanted and annoying light. Additionally – and as you would naturally expect – the darker the lens the more glare or reflection is blocked out.
How glare affects our eyesight
Now we know glare can be harmful to our vision, let’s take a look at the different kinds of glare and how they affect our sight.
|Glare Type||How It Is Created||How We Experience It||How It Affects Us|
|Distracting glare||Light is reflected when it moves from one optical area to another e.g. air to glass||This affects the front and back of the lenses generally, but can also be experienced at night / in low light||The result is distraction, disturbance of vision, and the potential of eye fatigue|
|Discomforting glare||Caused by bright sunlight||This is an everyday glare type, and can affect everyone||Depending on the person’s light sensitivity, the result can be squinting, shielding eyes, and general discomfort and vision interference. Can also lead to eye strain and eye fatigue|
|Disabling glare (Also known as veiling glare)||High light levels lead to this type of glare||Bright light causes lower contrast on our perception of objects||Veiling glare can impede our vision, making us unable to tell shadows from objects. This can be unsafe in some situations e.g. driving, and also cause eye strain|
|Blinding glare||Light is reflected from a smooth and shiny surface such as water, snow or sand||A dazzling or bedazzling amount of light shoots into our vision||This type of glare can effectively block our vision, causing momentary blindness – a true safety hazard|
Benefits of Anti-Glare and Anti-Reflective Sunglasses
There are palpable benefits of anti reflective lenses and anti-glare lenses that can assist us with all of the issues outlined above. There are some further available technologies which can help, too, for example:
If your lenses are polarized, whether in addition to the coatings above or on its own, this will also effectively counteract glare. Polarized lenses work by blocking out all horizontal light waves, which includes the glare created by light bouncing off objects and surfaces. The way they work is similar to a pair of Venetian blinds, and they can block up to 50% of the light entering through a lens. Like those blinds, you can still see through the lenses, but glare and also annoying ambient light is dramatically reduced – learn about polarized lenses here.
Dark lenses also do a fantastic job at blocking out unwanted ambient light and glare and are a great choice whether as a standalone option or in addition to an anti reflective lens coating. A tint is a method of darkening lenses, so although they do not entirely eliminate glare, they absorb light and therefore reduce light intensity. If used in combination with polarized lens technology, then they are an incredibly effective method for blocking out both distracting light as well as glare. We would highly recommend this combination as a handy, readily available alternative to bespoke AG and AR coatings, in fact.
Mirroring can also provide some additional glare protection by reflecting some of the glare off the lenses. However, the benefit in this case is minor in comparison to a combination of tint and polarization, and from a tech perspective we would not recommend mirroring alone as a method to reliably counteract glare.
Looking after sunglasses with lens coatings
From a care perspective, AR and AG coatings can be worn off over time and must be looked after. They should only be cleaned with water or warm soapy water, and this is how we at Sunglass Fix recommend you to clean your sunglass frames and lenses in any case.
Avoiding chemical sprays is good for the Earth as they can contain solvents which constitute a hazard in terms of the environment. It’s also a plus for your pocket and can, in fact, dramatically increase the lifespan of your sunglasses – if you apply solvents to your non reflective sunglasses then this is likely to break down the coating over time, decreasing the life of the lenses and even damaging the frames, potentially. Find out more about sunglass lens care, and please make sure to follow our expert advice in this instance.
Whatever type of coating(s) or additions you choose, rest assured that our lenses will still always give you the benefit of 100% UV protection. If you choose polarization, then we offer the best in the world via Japanese polarizing technology, which delivers an incredible 99.9% efficacy. And, by using polyamide, we guarantee you the crystal clarity of pure glass but with all the strength, long life and durability of hard wearing plastic.
Our lenses meet not just American but also Australian and European safety standards, too; so, whichever type of lens you choose, you can be sure that you are choosing the very best.
Check out the Sunglass Fix lens options and materials and get your new pair of lenses online. A fast and easy process, with free shipping worldwide.