Ask the Optician


How Can I Make My Glasses Anti-Glare?

By Patrick Conroy
Reviewed by Beck Jinnette
Beck Jinnette

Reviewed by

Beck Jinnette
Beck has over 17 years of experience in eye care, holding her Certificate IV in Dispensing in Australia.
Strictly speaking, anti-glare glasses don't exist, but there are other options.
glare on glasses

Disclaimer: Anti-reflective coatings on glasses lenses can provide a more comfortable viewing experience, but do not eliminate 100% of glare.

As you’re undoubtedly well aware, the main function of glasses is to allow you to enjoy a clear, sharp field of vision, and therefore live your life in greater comfort.

This is what they were designed for, but innovation and technological advancements mean that glasses can also improve your visual experience in other ways, such as blocking out blue light or reducing glare.

What is glare and how does it affect your eyesight?

Light is essential for vision, but too much light causes problems for our eyesight. We don’t tend to look directly at sources of light, as it can hurt our eyes and cause discomfort.

It’s easy to avoid looking directly at a bright light source, but glare is harder to escape. Glare is defined as a strong, dazzling light.

It can come directly from a light source, but it also occurs when light is reflected off an object.

Surfaces like glass, water, snow, and certain metals are highly reflective, so we often experience glare from them, making it more difficult to view other objects close to where the glare is coming from.

traffic at night
traffic at night

Anti-reflective vs anti-glare

Lens coatings are one of the aforementioned innovations that broaden the scope of what your glasses can do.

Different coatings can add impact resistance, hydrophobic qualities, UV protection to your glasses, shield your eyes from blue light, and help with glare. 

The main purpose of an anti-reflective (AR) coating is to prevent reflections on the outer surface of glasses lenses by allowing more light to pass through them.

These pesky reflections are an aesthetic concern for some, as reflections on the front of their glasses hide their eyes from view, ruin photographs, and are also often noticeable during video calls. 

As more light passes through the lens instead of bouncing off it, the result is clearer vision for the wearer.

The halos that form around bright lights are also removed from your view with an anti-reflective coating, making driving at night more comfortable. With a greater amount of light reaching your eyes, an AR coating also improves visual acuity. 

Frustratingly for optical experts and linguistic pedants alike, the discussion about “anti-glare glasses” and “anti-glare lenses” is very often littered with misused language.

While there are different methods of introducing anti-glare properties, it’s important to use the right names for them in order to avoid confusion.

Some retailers talk about anti-glare coating for glasses, but in reality, this does not exist. It might sound like they’re the same thing, but anti-reflective coating is the correct term for this treatment.

Despite this, usage of the term “anti-glare coating” persists. The lens technology that most accurately fits the description of “anti-glare glasses” would be polarization, although it is only available for sunglasses lenses.

How does an anti-reflective coating work?

AR coatings are made of layers of metal oxides. Simply put, an anti-reflective coating cancels out the light reflection on the surface of the lenses and allows more light to pass through them and reach your eyes.

The more light that reaches your eyes, the more clearly you see. This is all achieved by a fairly complex scientific process called the optical interference model.

Basically, the layers of the anti-reflective coating work together to introduce “destructive” light waves, that, as their name suggests, destroy reflections on the lenses.

Uncoated lenses allow about 92% of light to pass through them. An anti-reflective coating increases that to 99%, giving the wearer greater visual acuity.

how AR coating works diagram
how AR coating works diagram

Benefits of anti-reflective coatings

The most noticeable benefit of anti-reflective coatings is the improved appearance of the lenses. Without reflections, the wearer’s eyes are more visible, making conversation and eye contact in general easier. 

For the wearer, the absence of reflections on their lenses is less distracting, especially in situations such as driving at night, working in a brightly lit environment, or in front of digital screens. Your eyes are put under less strain as a result.

Anti-reflective lens coatings also improve visual acuity, meaning your vision will be sharper, thanks to the extra light getting through to your eyes.

An anti-reflective coating is particularly useful on high-index lenses, as these can reflect up to 50% more light than other lenses. This makes an anti-reflective coating indispensable. 

A secondary advantage of AR coatings is that they generally have a hydrophobic finish to seal all of their layers, making them water-repellent and easier to clean.

When it comes to sunglasses, the dark lens tint generally negates the need for an AR coating on the outside of the lenses. It can still be applied on the inside of the lenses, however, for greater comfort when the sun is behind you.


Every anti-reflective coating gives the lenses it’s applied to a very subtle tint. This tint is most often either green, brown or yellow.

Polarised lenses

The most effective anti-glare glasses are those fitted with polarised lenses. Polarised lenses work by filtering out horizontal light waves, while allowing vertical light waves through.

This greatly reduces glare for the wearer, and provides much sharper vision contrast. The chemical used in the polarisation process results in heavily tinted lenses, which makes it unsuitable for eyeglasses.

However, a pair of prescription polarised sunglasses is a very effective solution, although naturally not the most useful for night-time activities. 

The difference between polarised lenses and anti-reflective coating is that polarisation prevents you from seeing glare at the source, while an anti-reflective coating prevents you from seeing glare reflected on your lens surface. 

how polarisation works diagram
how polarisation works diagram

Caring for glasses with anti-reflective lenses

Contrary to what you may think, an anti-reflective coating can actually make your glasses easier to clean and care for. Most AR coatings have a hydrophobic finish, which repels water and dirt, so the lenses don’t smudge so easily. 

Like with any glasses, always use a microfibre cloth to clean anti-reflective lenses instead of a t-shirt, tissue, or other type of material that could cause tiny abrasions.

It’s also useful to wet the lenses beforehand to further protect them from the risk of friction-induced scratches. 

Ask your optician to recommend which cleaning products can be safely used to clean your anti-reflective glasses. The harsh chemicals in some products can damage the coating.

Which is the best option?

As is usually the case when it comes to eyewear choices, your own vision requirements and lifestyle will dictate what the best option for you is.

Is an anti-reflective coating worth the investment? If improving the appearance of your glasses is a priority for you, then absolutely.

If you struggle with the headlights of oncoming traffic when driving at night, an AR coating would also help in that regard. If your goal is to have anti-glare glasses, then polarised sunglasses will do a great job of achieving that.

Keep in mind, though, that their lens tint makes them unsuitable for night-time use.

Both polarised lenses and anti-reflective coating have their benefits, with one potentially more suited than the other to the types of settings you’ll most often find yourself in.

Speak to your optician for personalised recommendations on which solution is right for your specific needs, or you can ask our opticians for further advice.

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