Is anti-glare coating on glasses worth it?
January 13, 2017 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Hi! I'm buying glasses for the first time in years, and I'm confused by all the options.

The last time, I just went with the cheapest option. I saw a sign for anti-glare lenses at the glasses store today, and I was wondering if they are a worthwhile expense. The basic lenses cost $50, and the coating costs an extra $100. I called another place where normal lenses are $100 and anti-glare lightweight lenses are $220.

I'm not sure if this is helpful, but I wear my glasses all time, stare at a computer all day at work, and have recently learned how to drive.

Thanks in advance for the help!
posted by girasoli to Shopping (30 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Anti-glare coating is not worth it. It is very easily scratched and/or messed up if you use the "wrong" cleaner. Or, if like me, you use hairspray and forget to take your glasses off before a touch up spritz.
posted by agatha_magatha at 2:35 PM on January 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I find the anti glare coating essential, especially for computer work and even more especially for driving. Worth every penny. I have never scratched it, because, like you, I wear my glasses all the time. I only clean it with the cleaner and wipes I got when I bought them.
posted by dpx.mfx at 2:40 PM on January 13, 2017 [12 favorites]

While you're at it, you could do worse than give a look-see. I haven't spent more than $60 on frames and lenses in some years now.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:41 PM on January 13, 2017 [9 favorites]

I detest that coating. It performs so poorly. It's very easily damaged and then you get a patchy, foggy, oil slick on water rainbow effect. I wouldn't even agree to get it if it were free.

I wear my glasses daily for all activities, am very careful about care and cleaning and it still is a nightmare to deal with that coating once it starts to get damaged.

I do think that paying more for thinner lenses is worth it.
posted by quince at 2:42 PM on January 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

It depends on how careful you are with your glasses and how bothered you are by the glare. With the anti-glare coating, your glasses will have less glare when others look at you -- what I mean is, it won't reduce the glare you see, but it will improve the degree to which others can see your eyes when you have the glasses on. Here's a picture that shows this better than I can describe it.

I want people to see my eyes, so I get the coating. I am careful with my glasses, so I don't have problems with it scratching -- but you do have to be very careful.

You might want to check out an online eyeglass seller like Zenni, which is much cheaper. There are others -- I've only used Zenni, but I have had excellent experience with them. The nice thing about online is that it's less painful to replace the glasses when the coating starts to wear out (which for me is about 12 months -- and like you, I wear them all the time).
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:46 PM on January 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

No. I've never had a good experience with it. It wears off and can leave weird remnants on your lenses.

I do agree with quince about the thinner lenses being worth it, but only if you have a fairly strong prescription.
posted by irisclara at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2017

I think it is absolutely worth it, and I have the experience of having a pair of lenses delivered without it due to a mistake at the lab. Without the coating: I often had to deal with reflections on the back side of the lens (so, the sun behind me, fluorescent lights overhead, and so on). It was distracting at a minimum and sometimes actually uncomfortable. When I had the lenses remade the difference was huge.

Note: I do have a strong prescription and thus I am also susceptible to problems caused by internal reflections that probably won't affect you as much. That said, I still think it's worth the cost.

Also it shouldn't matter what brand the AR coating is, as long as it's compatible with the lenses themselves. I used to have bad luck when the place I went to specified brand X coatings but (for other reasons) put me in brand Y lenses. I go to a different place now and I haven't had any coating issues since then.
posted by fedward at 2:48 PM on January 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I also find it essential. Order a pair with and without from Zenni to compare before spending a ton. (And most of my glasses are from zenni) My dad doesn't like it. I can't see without it. It's a personal choice.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:50 PM on January 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

I'm going to second the anti-glare coatings from zenni optical. I'm personally a fan of polycarbonate for its durability as well.
posted by Dmenet at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

Ask your optometrist if your prescription can affects how much glare you have to deal with. My prescription is very strong and i have astigmatism in both eyes. Without the coating the glare is distracting. It is worth the cost for me to have it.
posted by qi at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Scratches easily. Made me need new lenses too soon.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:52 PM on January 13, 2017

And yeah, looks- wise it's almost night and day for being able to see my eyes behind glasses.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:53 PM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I always get the Crizal anti-glare coating, and have never had any problems with it. Crizal is "baked" into the lens, and mine has never scratched or flaked off.
posted by invisible ink at 2:53 PM on January 13, 2017 [7 favorites]

I agree with OrangeDisk about wanting people to see my eyes. And also about the necessity of being careful.

I had a pair without the anti-glare coating and really regretted it every time I looked in the mirror or had my photo taken.

However, the "oil slick on water" effect is real if you don't clean your glasses carefully. Happened to my last glasses that I used to just clean with my shirt. This time, I've only used the spray and the microfiber cloth and the coating has held up without a single scratch. I just asked for many of the little cloths and I keep them all over the house, in the car, in my work bag, etc.
posted by raspberrE at 2:54 PM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you already wear glasses and are not bothered by the glare, I would not spring for it. Personally, I found the care required to keep the anti-glare coating from making things worse to be waaaaay too much of a pain -- I'm definitely the type who cleans my glasses with spit and my t-shirt (sorry if that's gross!) and I'm just not willing to change that for the slight benefit the anti-glare coating gives. If you are already scrupulous about glasses cleaning and/or are currently really bothered by glare, your calculation might vary.

I would also ask yourself how often you want to/are willing to/can afford to replace your glasses. Your question suggests to me that perhaps you're currently in the habit of stretching a pair of glasses as long as possible between replacements. Even if you are very careful, the anti-glare coating will shorten the lifespan of a pair of glasses, so keep that in mind. Some people replace their glasses every year anyway as soon as their insurance allows it. If that's you, the anti-glare could be more worth it. If you're the type that wants to go 2-3 years or more between pairs, I don't think it would be worth it.
posted by rainbowbrite at 3:17 PM on January 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

Totally worth it for computer screen glare. My first pair of reading glasses barely corrected my sight at all, I needed them for the anti glare.

Never had any problems with it wearing off or scratching. My glasses from 15 years ago are still pretty much as good as new.

It is annoying to clean, they can get very smeary. My latest pair is better and the optometrist said they'd made improvements to it - I'd agree.
posted by kitten magic at 3:31 PM on January 13, 2017

It's totally overpriced, not as effective as claimed, and will wear off over time, but I do like the effect. I once changed from a pair of glasses without to a pair with and I was fairly shocked about how much of a difference it made and how much the glare had been bothering me.

As with many things, you can get used to the glare, but the anti-glare thing is nice. Just know that you'll be overpaying for a temporary luxury.
posted by owls at 3:34 PM on January 13, 2017

I had consistently bad experiences with anti-glare coating, no matter how much I paid for it, until I found an optician with an excellent lab. At that point, it became nonnegotiable for me. Always anti-glare but never from any other lab. If you're from SF or surrounds, I'll tell you my optician & the various branches that use the same lab. Otherwise, bad anti-glare is far worse than no-anti-glare.
posted by janey47 at 3:53 PM on January 13, 2017

Maybe I've had luck with good opticians, but I think the anti-glare is well worth it if you wear your glasses all the time. I have had some deterioration over time—never scratching, but some of the oil slick effect (barely perceptible)— but this is usually after 3-4 years of use, when I would be replacing the glasses anyway.
posted by amusebuche at 4:11 PM on January 13, 2017

Oh man I love the anti-glare. When I was broke I got a pair without and it was awful, especially driving at night and using computers. It's not that hard to put a microfiber cloth in your pocket/purse. I am not particularly careful with my glasses and have never had problems with scratching.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 4:27 PM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm prone to ocular migraines, the anti glare coating helps me not get as many of them.
posted by wwax at 4:39 PM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

I llove my anti glare coating and am genuinely surprised by all the bad experiences reported here. I use my glasses all day every day at work. I've never had problems with it coming off and I certainly don't replace the glasses more than every two years at bests
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:58 PM on January 13, 2017

It sounds like people here are talking about two different things. Anti-glare coating on the side of the lenses that faces your eyes is extremely helpful in a lot of situations. I've never had a problem with it getting scratched, and I'm not especially careful with my glasses.

If you're talking about a coating on the other side of the lenses, it would be purely cosmetic and a lot more likely to get scratched. I don't see the point.

I'll second the recommendation for Crizal brand, because it's specifically designed to be scratch-resistant. My ex-wife used to be an optician and she was a huge proponent of it.
posted by shponglespore at 5:19 PM on January 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

I always used to get the anti glare coating. Then I decided to get a spare pair of glasses and didn't spring for AG... and discovered that I prefer no coating. I don't notice any difference for computer work, and the coating makes my night vision much worse. The most recent pair I'd had was Crizal, and it did get scratched even though I don't think I'm especially careless. The coating is not worth it to me.
posted by Kriesa at 5:31 PM on January 13, 2017

I once spent like $200 on anti-glare coating (the highest of high end coatings) because of my computer usage. I actually think it was crizal as mentioned above but am not certain.

(Of course an optician would reccommend the most expensive option!!! Lol!!! smdh)

Sucked just as hard as the zenni coating, lenses worthless garbage within a year or two. They also fog up super easy which is super annoying if you ever have a 10 degree difference between inside and outside...

Better lighting and a reduced brightness works far better and I am the type that carries multiple lense cloths and my glasses case wherever I go (eg, not just constantly doing bad stuff to the glasses).
posted by love2potato at 8:58 PM on January 13, 2017

My optician guarantees the Crizal coating for two years, with free replacement if it gets scratches. I'm another highly myopic guy who found the coating excellent (until this year, when cataract surgery left me with 20/20 vision without specs .. a very strange change after 70 years of wearing glasses)
posted by anadem at 9:38 PM on January 13, 2017

I'm severely myopic, my job involves staring at computers all day, and I would pay extra to not have anti-glare coating if I had to. It's awful.
posted by waffleriot at 10:40 PM on January 13, 2017

Anti-glare coating is an extremely divisive topic, as you can see.

I'm severely myopic (-7.5), work at a computer, and obviously wear my glasses all of the time because I'd be legally blind without them. I have had high myopia since childhood, with a high enough prescription that the optician *requires* anti-glare coating if I want the thinnest possible lenses. So I have experience with wearing cheapo glasses from Sears and Costco for 2 years at a time.

And the coating on my glasses has never scratched or flaked. Granted, I wear my glasses 24/7 and am not a messy person, but I was still in middle school when I started needing ultrathin glasses with anti-reflective coating. I'm bad about using microfiber cloths to clean my glasses, but I'm also bad about cleaning my glasses, period.

So my advice, which is deeply biased from my personal experience, is that you really should get the anti-glare coating on your first pair of high-index glasses, if your prescription warrants those lenses. However--from your question referencing "basic lenses" that cost $50, I'm guessing that you have a more mild form of myopia (I'm not sure my glasses would even be wearable in the basic-lenses form, due to distortion from thickness). In which case, anti-glare coating is more of a nice-to-have, I think.

FWIW, I switched a few years ago from Costco glasses to fancy optician glasses with the Crizal coating, because I now have amazing vision insurance, and I haven't noticed any difference at all in the (non-)wear-and-tear of the anti-reflective coating.
posted by serelliya at 12:40 AM on January 14, 2017

Thanks, everyone! It seems like people either really like or really dislike the anti-glare coating, so I'm going to order two pairs from Zenni (thanks for the link -- I had no idea I could get glasses this cheaply!) and see which of the two options I like better.
posted by girasoli at 3:56 PM on January 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wonder if people who have problems with the coating wearing off are cleaning their glasses with paper - I've always heard that paper, even seemingly soft paper like tissue, contains wood fibers that'll scratch lenses and coatings.
posted by at at 2:36 PM on January 16, 2017

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