All about lens coatings for sunglasses

Like a car purchase with all the options, sun equipment also has many add-ons. The term “sun equipment” covers sunglasses: daily ones, sporty or stylish ones, flat, rimless or wrap-around, cat style or oversized, eyeglasses with prescription or not; ski goggles or ski visors.

But are sun lens coatings worth it? Below you will find which ones may interest you according to your requirements, needs and uses. They feature either performance or style but happily they can be combined! Performance when they enhance vision, and style when they add color differentiation and customization.

As experts in multi-coated lens for sunglasses, we share with you all there is to know about lens coatings for sunglasses.

What are lens coatings and what are they used for?

A lens coating consists of treatments added to the lens surface to contribute to its performance, appearance and protection, but also its durability. Another impact is the quality of your vision and the comfort you feel. Indeed, adding a coating has a specific purpose and most of the time it deals with reducing or cancelling an annoying and interfering element.

This additional layer can be applied either on the front side or the back side of the lens. Some treatments can be combined.

It's important to remember that coatings cannot be added after purchase. Which means you have to request them before ordering from your eyecare professional. When you discuss the Rx version and plano, coatings have to be part of your specification. Once the lens is cut to fit the frames, it's not possible to add further coatings.

Take care when cleaning your equipment and only use a soft cloth, so as not to damage your sunglass coatings.

What are the different types of lens coatings for sunglasses and how do they work?

There are many options…It's important to have a clear idea about what matters for you and what is best for your personal use. There are two kinds of lens coatings for sunglasses: one that aims to enhance style, these are called mirrored lenses and essentially have a cosmetic effect; the others are technical coatings whose aim is to upgrade vision and achieve optimum comfort.

Blue light blocking lens coating for sunglasses

Blue light blocking lens coating for sunglasses

Here's a quick reminder of what blue light is. As part of the visible light spectrum, its wavelengths range from 380 to 500nm. It contains high energy, which means it has a high potential to harm your eyes. It has a dual nature since part of it is harmful, for eye health, BLUE VIOLET,  and part of it is essential for the circadian cycle, BLUE TURQUOISE.

Nowadays, we know that as it issues from digital devices blue light can cause eye fatigue and eye-strain, but also long-term eye damage such as macular degeneration and disturbed sleep. It's important to remember that its main source is the sun, which means that blue light is everywhere.

It's important to note that certain sun lenses colors block harmful blue light without additional coating. This stems from adding specific dyes and also from the color itself.

We recommend adding blue light protection on light transmission colors and on photochromic lenses. This last versatile technology, works as follows: the lens adjusts its tint according to the light environment. Meaning that when indoors, the lens stays clear, while outdoors, it becomes darker. This effect provides the right light protection according to the environmental conditions. Adding anti-blue light treatment can be very useful for indoor use, when the lens color is light because it's not UV activated.

Blue light protective coatings, when not activated indoors, give a blue gloss effect on light colors. On dark colors, when activated outdoors, they become intense blue.

In conclusion: no more hesitation in the case of light or photochromic lenses!

Anti-smudge lens coating for sunglasses

oleophobic lens coating for sunglasses

A significant everyday enemy of vision is the fingerprint! Together with dust or water, on the lens surface, fingerprints interfere with vision. An oleophobic lens coating is the solution. It can be applied to one side or both sides of the surface. We highly recommend it on top of these other treatments: mirrors or anti-reflective because it helps to keep the lenses clean longer.

Additional key uses are boating, sailing or beach activities. Because the lens surface is slick, any water/oily drops drain off with no unsightly marks.

Visibility is enhanced!

Anti-fog lens coating for sunglasses

Anti-fog lens coating for sunglasses

Fog is just moisture that appears when you are warming up in a cold or wet environment. It appears with sweating, when you stop moving and there is no air circulation or when you need a bit of time to cool down after intense activity - such as running or cycling. For ski goggles application, we highly recommend the dual-layer system.

There are some tips for preventing fog appearance, especially for ski goggle or wrapped-around frames or frames with gaskets and tight seals. Like maintaining air circulation but this applies to the frame. You can also have an additional guarantee at lens level, with an anti-fog treatment. This is an internal coating that prevents condensation appearing and fog annoyance. If your temperature tends to get very hot, this lens coating is a very good option to take! It ensures better vision for the wearer!

Anti-reflective lens coating for sunglasses

Anti-reflective lens coating for sunglasses

Anti-reflective coating is also known as “AR” or anti-glare coating - different terms for the same lens feature.

For eyeglasses, the coating is applied to both sides of the lens as the wanted benefits come from both sides. On a pair of sunglasses, its interest is only on the backside as on the front side it is worthless – light going through the lens has already been filtered. The interest is to minimize glare and reflections bouncing off the backside of the lens. It provides sharpness of vision, contrast and precision. Because it helps prevent visual fatigue, it is highly recommended for driving.

So smart it becomes mandatory for big and flat frames!

There is some confusion about anti reflection coating and polarized sun lenses. Both are dealing with reflected light but not in the same way. A polarized sun lens has an internal filter that helps cancel the annoying light reflected by flat surfaces such as snow or water. Look at this illustration to understand clearly:

polarized sun lenses coating

To provide complete protection against reflected light, you can always combine polarized and anti-reflective coatings. The winning combination for cruising with fashionable over-sized styles!

Ultraviolet protective lens coating for sunglasses

UV coating for sunglasses

When considering sun lenses, UV ray and sunlight protection is usually part of the lens itself. This is for certainty one of the first reasons for buying sunglasses. No need to add a coating. Just check the UV380* or UV400* compliance that accompany the sunglasses - 100% UVA and UVB protection.

To ensure complete UV protection, i.e. also handling the UV coming from the back with light bouncing off the backside of the lens without going through the lens, you can add an AR coating. See above for more on this topic.

In conclusion, UV rays protective lens coating is not so important when considering sunglasses.

Lens coating resistant to scratching

One of the main worries when buying eyewear equipment concerns longevity and care. Scratches can be the enemy of vision when they appear. They can also ruin the cosmetic aspect of a mirrored coating. This is why, for cosmetic coating, anti-scratch is highly recommended.

Anyway, your sunglasses will last longer if they are scratch proof thanks to scratch-resistant coating. Unquestionably, this lens coating is worth it!

Mirrored coatings

mirrored lens coating for sunglasses

In technical terms, mirrored sun lenses generally darken the tint of the lens which means reducing the amount of light and helping to increase protection. But their main interest is their customizability and cosmetic appearance, with color and intensity to choose from a full palette of tints, and with from gloss to intense effect rendering.

How long does sunglass lens coating last?

Lens coatings are applied to last as long as the whole assembly, under normal conditions of use naturally!

As mentioned above, coatings are applied before cutting to fit the frames and it is not possible to reapply or repair it. For this reason, it is essential to take care of your sunglasses.

Discover our offer in lens coatings for sunglasses

Essilor® Sun Solution™ sun lenses offer a variety of key features dedicated to sunglasses and sports eyewear. Between technical and aesthetic, our E-SUN™ MAGICOAT™ range reinvents the magic of sun lenses through a wide choice of SEE BETTER and BETTER LOOK coatings. Note that our anti-reflective coating complies with standard ISO12312-1  and our anti-fog coating with standard EN 168:2001.



ESSILOR® SUN SOLUTION™ is the new division of ESSILOR specially focused on advanced sun lens technologies.
We serve all our customers of the sunwear industry, for sports, lifestyle or fashion.

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