Nonreflective glasses for Zoom videocalls?
February 19, 2021 8:54 AM   Subscribe

My PC monitor reflects off my glasses when I do Zoom videocalls. People can't see my eyes unless I tilt my ear frames way up so that the lenses tilt at an angle. But that looks weird. Is there such a thing as completely non-reflective glasses? When I Google around I keep getting "anti glare" glasses which aren't the same. Those block blue light but the don't solve the reflection problem.
posted by mono blanco to Computers & Internet (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
To clarify, do you have the basic common anti-reflective coating on your glasses?
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:03 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]

A few thoughts

First, could you try using a polarized filter over your webcam lens? That could potentially block everything, though of course it will be much darker.

Second, can you buy a webcam, and angle it slightly to the left or right of your monitor?

Third, have you considered just not using your camera? I've recently turned on the camera to say hello in the beginning of meetings, then turned it off from then on.
posted by bbqturtle at 9:05 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Can you enable some kind of "night mode" or use the accessibility settings on your machine to dim/darken/grayscale your desktop while on calls? That way there isn't a big ol' bright rectangle reflecting off your glasses. It's not perfect, I have this issue myself, but it can help a lot.
posted by niicholas at 9:17 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]

Is there such a thing as completely non-reflective glasses?

There are, but rather than prescription optics they're clear-glass props created for actors.
posted by Rash at 9:19 AM on February 19

Anti-glare (AKA anti-reflective) and blue light blocking aren't the same thing, but I believe all the major lens coatings start with an anti-glare surface and then add other attributes, like blue light blocking. The one with the most name recognition (because of its owner's market power) might be Crizal. Literally every coating on this page is an anti-glare coating, but only one is blue blocking. My computer glasses do seem to reflect less than my all-purpose progressive glasses, but even my progressive lenses are only minimally reflective. A previous pair of my glasses came with a cleaning cloth advertising Claris HD coatings (apparently exclusive to the lab that made the lenses); all three coatings are anti-reflective and only one is blue blocking.

Also FWIW anti-reflective coatings provide much more obvious benefit for computer users than blue light blocking lenses, for which there's still little evidence to support the trend. (That said, my computer glasses are blue blocking, because the marginal extra cost over just getting a quality AR coating was minimal, and I'm willing to pay a little extra even though the whole thing may prove to be a silly trend).
posted by fedward at 9:20 AM on February 19

BTW I'm not endorsing either of the brands linked there, and you probably won't have a lot of flexibility in what brand you end up with if you ask your optician for an AR coating. Years ago I went to a place that pushed "Crizal" as an upgrade over whatever their standard coating was, but in talking to them I got the impression even the standard coating they sold was Crizal branded, and they were just pushing the premium one because it was profitable (insurance companies may pay for basic AR coatings, but not the premium ones, and yes, this seems like an especially seedy part of the eyeglasses business). In short: I have found that the premium coatings are indeed better (less reflective, easier to keep clean, more resistant to scratches and cracks) but I also feel a little bit like I'm getting scammed every time I have to say yes to that choice.
posted by fedward at 9:38 AM on February 19

One easy solution might be to light yourself more brightly with a light to the side of your computer, so the main light isn't exactly in line with the camera.
posted by starfishprime at 10:20 AM on February 19 [4 favorites]

Most Zoom participants don't have this problem, as far as I've seen. Special glasses seems like overkill.

I'd suggest looking for a simpler and cheaper solution. Where is your camera located? You could move your camera or webcam to pick you up at a different angle. You could also try raising your monitor a bit.
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:40 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

I just played around with this with my two pairs of glasses, one that has anti-reflective coating and one that doesn't. Sitting in front of my computer, when I take pictures of myself with the glasses with the AR coating, it's pretty OK, but with the regular glasses I can see the reflection of my screen on my glasses in the picture. If you don't already have the plain AR coating I think that may help. I know "appearance in photos" is one of the additional reasons sited for people choosing to get AR coatings on their glasses.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:55 AM on February 19

I had this problem to a large degree when I had blue-blocking glasses — all the blue light reflected off the glasses and they showed up as purple on zoom or in photographs. On zoom, I addressed it by using f.lux to reduce the blue light coming from my screen.
posted by wyzewoman at 10:55 AM on February 19 [2 favorites]

I agree with starfishprime-- light yourself up more so the monitor isn't the brightest thing in front of you. And your additional illumination will be off-center (whether above or to the side) so your glasses hopefully shouldn't bounce that light into the camera too much.

Whatever you do, don't light your face from below because you get that weird shadow effect that's best used when telling ghost stories around a campfire, and no other time.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:10 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Do you need your glasses for up close? I’m fine without, so I removed the lenses from my old glasses and wear the frames only- but my prescription is weak. My real glasses are transitions with the anti-blue light coating and they look awful on screen.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 11:43 AM on February 19 [1 favorite]

Adding to the suggestion that the ideal solution is lighting yourself more brightly. I happen to have several clamp lights attached to shelves on either side of my desk. Normally the lights are pointed up at the ceiling, but I angle them more towards me when I'm on a video call.

You could also try dimming your monitor a little bit.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 12:03 PM on February 19

What starfishprime said...You need some fill light off to the side of the monitor.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:05 PM on February 19

Getting new glasses for this minor problem seems like overkill. I find that 90% of the time, the ambient light in my office is good enough for zoom. Maybe try killing the lights, or have one soft light on in the corner.
posted by hydra77 at 2:45 PM on February 19

Thanks everyone. Dimming the monitor works pretty well and that's the quickest fix for me. I have one of those huge curved screens that Kirk would give his eye teeth for. It emits a lot of light.
posted by mono blanco at 4:39 PM on February 19

I've got two sets of prescription eyeglasses for close vision -- a relatively expensive pair that I got from an eyewear store and a cheap backup set that I bought from one of the on-line retailers (Zenni, I believe.)

I've taken to leaving the Zenni ones near my computer so that I can swap them in when I am on a Zoom call because they reflect substantially less light from the screen back towards the camera.

I'm not sure in what way they differ from my other pair but I can tell you that some glasses are better than others in this regard.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:49 AM on February 20

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