What is an AR Coating, and Do I Really Need It?

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It’s a problem only those who wear glasses understand. You’re trying to take a selfie, but every time it seems like there’s a large glare where your eyes should be in the photo. That’s likely caused by the lack of an AR coating on your lenses. While it might make it tough to take that perfect selfie, it affects your vision too.

What is an AR coating and do I really need it?

An AR coating is an anti-reflective coating. It’s applied to the front of your glasses so you don’t get the reflection that bounces off. Instead, the light passes through the lens and enters the eyes, giving you sharper, clearer vision.

The coatings can be applied to the front and back of your lenses to help protect them from scratches and smudges, repel dust and water, and defend against UV exposure. Additionally, AR coatings can reduce eye strain caused by glare and reflections, and prevent the “halos” you might see from oncoming cars at night. The coating also reduces the reflection of light, allowing others to better see your eyes through the lenses.

Need another reason to enhance your next pair of glasses with an AR coating? VSP members can receive a $35 mail-in rebate when they purchase Unity Progressive Lenses from a doctor participating in the VSP Global Premier Program, with at least one of these AR coatings: Unity Anti-Reflective Coating or blue light-reducing TechShield Blue.

Find a doctor participating in the Premier Program near you.


  • Jody Brown says:

    I just got glasses in Sept w/ AR coating. Can I still get a rebate?

  • Paul says:

    why does it always have to be someone participating in a program, I have AR coatings on my glasses all the time and it is a no brainer to have this done so everyone that does it should get the rebate.

  • Patrick says:

    I have large eye floaters, driving at night is pretty bad with on coming car headlights. Is there an AR coating and/or tint that can help me?

  • Henry Schafer says:

    What is the average additional cost for an AR Coating on my glass lenses and is it usually covered by insurance or is it an out of pocket expense?!! ……

  • Virginia Rieth says:

    My coating became spotty and My EyE Doctor said it was out of warranty. I have never had this problem before and I have worn glasses all my life. They said today coatings only last two years…. Very disappointing At best.

  • Lisa Schreiber says:

    Do I have to ask for the AR coating to be applied to both the inside and outside of my lenses?

  • Angela Carmichael says:

    I didn’t know about the AR coating and dose it cost extra

  • Peter Greene says:

    I got AR coating on my last pair of glasses, after swearing I wouldn’t get them once before. I made the same mistake twice. Not only did they not do anything to improve the “halo” of oncoming car headlights, they may have actually made things slightly worse. But the biggest problem is that it makes the glasses extremely susceptible to scratches (on the coating surface) due to using anything but microfiber clothes to clean the lens, and grime sticks to it more so than uncoated lenses. As far as I’m concerned, AR coatings are a waste of money (>$100) and I’ll never get it again.

    • Ted Moore says:

      Good info, thanks. Wonder if coating might have been applied poorly.

    • PR says:

      I agree totally with everything Peter wrote. I had the exact same experiences.

      • CN says:

        I also had a nightmare experience with the coating, and once applied, they cant remove it… attempting to remove it makes the problem much worse.

    • Aodan Peacock says:

      Thanks for you comment. Very helpful. I have been talked into AR coating a number of times but it won’t happen again. The coatings attract dirt like a magnet, they don’t have much effect on glare and, rather than make things more clear, they have the opposite effect. What about some truth in advertising. You are unlikely to find it on this site.

  • Susan says:

    I am very hard on my glasses and the coating scratched up after only a few weeks. It feels like something is in my eyes or I can’t get the glasses clean enough. I’ll never get it again.

  • Nhan says:

    Thank you for the information. Doctor said I should have a coating. I will consider before the purchase. Thank you!

  • Trina says:

    I ‘ve only gotten the coating twice & it definitely made seeing worse st night so now I get a gradual tint of color starting at the top & fading toward the middle. This helps working in an office with fluorescent lights

  • Kris says:

    Absolutely hate the coating. My glasses are never clean because of the constant smudging.

  • M Rowe says:

    This is my 2nd pair of AR lenses (from different vendors). Same experiences as Peter and PR except for the part about easy scratching. Instead, my coated lenses smudge readily and the only way to clean them is with soap and water. Other methods just smear the smudges. Starting at about 14 months I noticed I didn’t see as clearly. Poor vision progressed until I now see almost as well without glasses under some conditions although according to an eye exam my prescription hasn’t changed. So now I prematurely have the expense of new glasses – again. This happened with the 1st pair of AR lenses as well.

  • Ann says:

    Thank you everyone for sharing this information. I thought my eyes have been getting worse. I can hardly focus with my glasses on. I find myself taking them off more and more often to see (blurry without glasses is better than vision with them on). I wear trifocals. I will pass on the coating next time I buy glasses.

  • Lola says:

    Glad I took the time to read these posts. I chose not to get the coating due to the extra cost. I was regretting it each time I drove at night but, based on the comments above, maybe it’s a good thing that I chose not to?

  • Beverly says:

    I totally agree with Peter. I have tried the AR locating twice a =nd will never get it again. My friend was encoug=raged to try it even though she had not had good results previously because she was told that the product has been improved. She found it to be just as bad as earlier experiences. I will never use it again!

  • Tom says:

    Great help to all of you. Was,wondering why my glasses,were so scatched..and wouldn’t clean up. Just about to get new ones and WILL NOT get reflective. Thank you.

  • Sandra says:

    I have had the AR coating a couple of times myself. Before my glasses were a year old the coating began to get tiny bubbles under it, which really hampered my vision. Like others on here I was told once the coating is applied it cannot be removed. Very disappointing. I did not have the money to pay for another pair of glasses. It was a very difficult time for me.

  • Laura says:

    I go to a lot of conventions and purchase celebrity photo ops. Without the AR coating I would have wasted soooooo much money on them. I look more than a little crazed without my glasses as I can’t see very far at all without them. Looking at the photos, the AR coating has made loads of photos come out great.

  • Disillusioned says:

    These VSP articles are a waste of time, except for the comments section. Ask if you should buy something extra and the answer is always yes.

  • Sss says:

    I’ve been an optician for over 20 years. Does AR work? Yes it works. Reflection on your lenses equals less light to your eyes which equals compromised vision. AR works. If you get a premium AR you will have very little issues with anything the above people are complaining about. The problem is.. many people don’t want to pay for a better lens. So they end up buying a sub-par product and end up complaining about it.. IF YOU WANT THE BEST POSSIBLE VISION GET THE BEST PRODUCT..

  • Marianne says:

    I have been wearing glass since I was 10 years old. I am now 64 and have been wearing tri-focals for about 10 years. As an adult, I have always had anti-reflective coating on my lenses and I have never had any of the problems described above. My eyesight is important to me. I have my lenses change for even the slightest change in my vision, because I cannot stand not seeing clearly. I have never had much money to spend on myself, but I always get the best when it comes to my glasses. It’s just a matter of priorities. I would rather see clearly than have dinners out every week, designer coffee every day, movies every weekend, etc, etc….P.S. Cleaning your glasses every morning is just common sense. You wash your face every day and your glasses are exposed to the same dust and dirt as your skin.

  • Sajjad says:

    Glass only reflect the lights

  • JoAnn Williams says:

    I had terrible problem with glare from oncoming cars at night after cataract surgery. My eye doctor put an anti glare on my lens but problem persisted. The next time I went for new lens he had Crizal anti glare applied and it makes a big difference. Glare is not totally eliminated but so much better that I feel safer driving at night.

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