Do I Need Coatings on My Lenses?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, November 24, 2020
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Wondering if lens coatings are absolutely necessary or just an added bonus?

When purchasing new eyeglasses, many eyecare professionals will recommend adding a coating to your lenses to improve both the quality of the lens and the quality of your vision. Different types of coatings provide different benefits.

Keep in mind that coatings are applied before the lenses are cut to fit your frames— so be sure to which type of coating you would like to add before ordering your new glasses to avoid missing your opportunity.

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Coatings to consider when purchasing new lenses

Anti-reflective coating

Anti-reflective coatings are generally recommended when purchasing polycarbonate, high-index, or aspheric lenses, since these lenses reflect more light than CR-39 or glass lenses.

An anti-reflective (AR) coating, also called an anti-glare coating can be beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Allows more light to pass through the lens
  • Eliminates glare
  • Makes lenses appear almost transparent
  • Improves cosmetic appearance
  • Reduces halos around lights
  • Improves night driving

Scratch-resistant coating

A scratch-resistant coating is also called a ‘hard coat’ or permagard.

Plastic lenses are more susceptible to scratches than glass lenses and can occur from any type of contact — even just cleaning your lenses with the wrong type of cloth.

A scratch on your eyeglass lens can impact your vision clarity and be quite irritating, especially if you only recently purchased your eyeglasses.

Anti-scratch coatings, as their name suggests can protect your lenses from getting scratched, enabling you to enjoy your eyeglasses for longer. When this coating is applied, the lens becomes harder and therefore more resistant to scratching.

Many plastic lenses nowadays, including polycarbonate, high-index and trivex lenses contain a built-in scratch-resistant coating on the back and front of the lens surface.

However, if your lenses don’t contain a built-in anti-scratch coating, you may want to consider adding one to your new lenses, especially if you are purchasing lenses for a child.

UV coating

Photochromic lenses offer 100 percent UV protection, as do most polycarbonate and high-index lenses.  Many sunglasses contain 100 percent UV protection as well.

However, CR-39 plastic lenses do not contain 100 percent UV protection, and only block most of the sun’s harmful rays. Therefore, adding a UV coating to your lenses might be a good idea to ensure that you are 100 percent protected.

Anti-fog coating

Lens fogging frequently occurs when moving between cold and warm environments, playing sports and exercising. When your lenses become foggy, it usually takes a few seconds for vision clarity to return. Not only can this be embarrassing in social situations, but it can also be dangerous since it limits your ability to see well.

An anti-fog coating can prevent this from occurring by eliminating the condensation of moisture that leads to lens fogging. 

Anti-fog coatings can be applied to CR-39, polycarbonate, high-index and transition (photochromic) lenses.

Do you need a lens coating?

Before deciding if a lens coating is right for you, consider the following:

Your lifestyle. If you will be wearing your new glasses full time, or for night driving, computer use, exercising, sports playing, etc., it may be a good idea to add coatings to your lenses. The coatings will protect your lenses and enhance your vision.

Your budget. Lens coatings can vary in price, depending on the coating you choose— so it is important to do your research and keep your budget in mind, before deciding to add any additional coatings. Also, be sure to inquire which coatings are necessary for your specific lenses, as many plastic lenses already come with built-in coatings.

If you have any questions about adding coatings to your new lenses, speak with your optometrist. The more information you have, the easier your decision will be.