The Benefits of Anti-Reflective and Polarized Lenses

Two types of lenses have become more popular and easily found. Although these add to the price of the lens, they can be worth it for certain people and activities. We are here to talk about:

  • AR, or Anti-Reflective lenses, and

  • Polarized lenses


Anti-Reflective Lenses

What Are They?

Anti-reflective lenses are just what they sound like; the lenses have special properties that keep light from reflecting off them. These properties are generally applied on both the front and the back of the lens, so they not only prevent glare off the front of your glasses, they also prevent light from being reflected from the back of the lens into your eye.

How Are They Made?

The anti-reflective property is created by bonding the corrective lens to a special material created to neutralize glare. Most anti-reflectives are made of metal oxides that are vaporized and allowed to adhere to the lens.

Some lenses come factory treated on both surfaces. Others, especially progressive and multifocal lenses are treated in the lab after customization (matched to your prescription). Anti-reflective options are especially good for high-index (strong prescription) lenses, which tend to reflect more light than low-index, or weaker, lenses.

What Are the Benefits?

Anti-reflective lenses provide both cosmetic and eye-health benefits.

  • AR treatments keep glare from the surface of your lenses, allowing people to see your eyes and, in fact, make your eyeglasses less visible.

  • AR treatments also prevent light from being reflected into your eye where it can eventually cause damage that result in cataracts and other problems.

  • With less light reflected off the front of the lens, more light goes through the lens to provide clearer vision, especially at night or with computer use. Did you know that the lenses that your doctor used to check your vision are all treated with anti-reflective? If you want to match the crisp, clear vision you saw in the exam room, then you definitely will want to say yes to anti-reflective on your lenses!

  • Premium AR lenses often also have oleophobic (repelling oil and fingerprints) and hydrophobic (repelling water and spots) properties that make them easier to keep clean.

  • Premium AR lenses also have scratch resistance added to their formula to aid in resisting fine scratches. To extend the life of your lenses, only clean lenses using the materials and techniques recommended by your eye doctor or optician. This includes any wetting or cleaning solutions as some may be damage your eyewear.
     

Anti-reflective lenses are often called anti-glare lenses, but this is misleading. The AR doesn’t eliminate glare from objects you see, it simply keeps your lenses from making glare themselves. Today’s anti-reflectives are very different from older versions that used to flake or peel with time. If you have had a bad experience in the past, be sure and check out the new, improved ARs on the market today!

Polarized Lenses

What Are They?

Polarized lenses are made to reduce the glare of light from objects around you, particularly outdoors. This is why they are only found in sunglasses, either prescription or non-prescription.

Light is made up of waves that are oriented in all directions. A polarized lens has a laminated filter that only allows light from one angle to enter, usually vertically oriented light. With horizontal light waves blocked, the glare is diminished or completely gone.

How Are They Made?

Polarized lenses are made when organic dyes and metallic oxide pigments are mixed into the lens material, making them part of the lens rather than just a coating. Care is taken to keep color distortion at bay, making gray the most popular color of polarized lens. Brown and amber are other common colors but while many other tints are available they may cause too much color distortion.

What Are the Benefits?

Polarized lenses are highly recommended for people who spend an abundance of their time outside.

  • Polarized lenses reduce glare, or bright light reflected from surrounding objects. This is particularly dangerous when driving or walking near vehicular traffic since light glaring into a driver’s eyes can cause an accident.

  • Polarized lenses also reduce eyestrain. Most of us squint at glare; when glare is gone there is no need to stress your eyes to see clearly.

  • Polarization can provide extremely crisp images with dazzling colors, which is why it is often used in photography.

  • Polarized lenses provide protection from UV rays although the protection may not be significant depending on the construction and quality of the lens.
     

Downside

Polarized lenses tend to make LCD screens difficult to read, often causing the text to disappear completely. This has become more problematic in recent years due to the proliferation of LCD screens. For most it is a minor inconvenience but for machine operators who must be able to read those screens, it can be dangerous. However, BluTech outdoor lenses are polarized and still allow you to see those LCD screens!

Also, as noted above, while polarized lenses can protect your eyes from UV light, the amount of protection varies. Be sure to check labeling for specific UV protection claims.

While polarized lenses may seem to be a great tool for skiers, they can actually compromise the light contrast that alerts the skier to specific conditions such as being able to distinguish between ice and snow, or the presence and shape of moguls. However, polarized lenses are excellent for water sports where glare from the water can be a nuisance or a nightmare.

The next time you need replacement lenses, don’t be surprised if anti-reflective treatment is suggested by your eye care professional. And if you love or work in the outdoors, in bright sunshine or even hazy conditions, polarized lenses can help you see better and protect your eyes.

Clarke EyeCare Center can help you determine the lens best suited for your needs.

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