An anti-reflective coating (a.k.a AR, anti-glare or non-glare coating) is a widely used addition in most modern glasses since it improves its optical properties. However, because it is a very thin layer applied to the lens’s front and back surface, it can get easily scratched, which can degrade its optical properties. Since there is no way to repair the AR coating, you can either replace your lenses (which can be pricey) or try to remove the damaged anti-reflective coating.
Since you’re reading this article, chances are you want the latter option.
There are two primary ways to remove the anti-reflective coating:
- For plastic (CR-39) or polycarbonate lenses, use an etching cream.
- For lenses made of glass, use a solution of isopropanol and saltwater to soften the coating, and then remove it with a plastic scraper.
Keep reading for step by step tutorials.
Most modern glasses have plastic lenses, and only a minority uses an actual glass.
Disclaimer: Since different eyeglass manufacturers can use different types of anti-reflective coating, it is possible that you may not be able to remove the anti-reflective layer. If you proceed to do anything you read in this article, you do it at your own risk. I’m just a person who had the same problem as many others trying to help with information about possible solutions.
How to Tell if Lenses are Plastic or Glass?
If you want to be sure if your lenses are made of glass or plastic, the safest bet is to ask the optician from whom you bought the glasses.
In case you can’t ask an optician, there are several easy ways to differentiate glass from plastic lenses.
Lightly tap the lens against your teeth or your ring. If the lens emits a high, ringing tone, it is a glass. In contrast, the plastic will have a low “thud” like sound when tapped.
Glass is much heavier. Generally, glasses with plastic lenses will feel more balanced in hand, while those with glass lenses will be more front heavy.
The glass feels colder to the touch, while plastic feels warmer since it is a better insulator.
How to Tell if Glasses are Anti-Glare
Nowadays, there are many types of coatings that can be applied to lenses to improve their optical properties. Coatings such as UV-coating, scratch-resistant coating, and anti-fog coating are just a few of many options you can choose from.
In case you are not sure if your glasses have an anti-reflective layer, just hold them to reflect light. If the glare on the lens contains shades of green, turquoise, pink, purple, magenta, blue, or gold, they have an anti-reflective coating. On the other hand, uncoated lenses reflect the same color of light as the light source.
Remove an Anti-Reflective Coating from Plastic Lenses
The best way of removing the anti-reflective layer from glasses with plastic lenses is with the help of etching cream. Here is a list of things you’ll need:
- etching cream (such as Armour Etch, Etchall, and Silhouette, etc.)
- cotton buds or small brush
- rubber gloves
- protective glasses
- microfiber cloth
You can purchase an etching cream at most craft or home improvement stores, or you can buy it from Amazon.
When working with etching cream, always use protective gloves and glasses, and follow the instructions for use on the product label. For more information click here.
Here is the step by step process of removing the anti-reflective coating from plastic lenses:
- With a cotton swab, scoop a little bit of etching cream. Carefully apply it to the whole surface of the lens (both front and back).
- If you get etching cream on the frame of your glasses, wipe it off with the clean side of the q-tip (to prevent any damage to the frame).
- Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- With another cotton swab, do a little scrubbing around the surface of the lens (both front and back).
- Wash thoroughly with soap and water.
Repeat the whole process if there is any AR coating left.
Remove an Anti-Reflective Coating from Glass Lenses
Never use etching cream on glass lenses as it will cause frosting to your glasses, which will make them unusable.
To remove the anti-reflective coating from glass lenses, you will need:
- isopropyl alcohol (preferably 99%) – Amazon link
- plastic scraper of some kind
- saltwater (inn 3,5 ounces (100 ml) of water, dissolve one tablespoon (20 grams) of salt)
- plate or bowl
Here is the step by step process to remove the anti-reflective coating from glass lenses:
- Mix 5 parts of isopropyl alcohol with one part of saltwater.
- Place your glasses onto a plate and pour out the prepared solution just enough so the lenses are entirely submerged.
- Let it sit in the solution for an hour to soften the anti-reflective coating.
- Scrape off the anti-reflective coating using a plastic scraper, and you are done.
Not Happy with the Result?
Different manufacturers use different technologies, and it is possible that you may not be able to remove the anti-reflective layer. Keep in mind that your glass lenses can be damaged in a different way. The methods described above are intended to help remove the scratched and peeling anti-reflective layer of the lenses. If the surface of the lens itself is scratched, the scratches will remain visible even after the procedure. In this case, you will most likely need to at least replace the lenses or buy a new pair of glasses.
The good news is that nowadays you can buy a new glasses without breaking a bank. We found many positive reviews for the Zennioptical (we are not affiliated or payed to promote this brand) eyewear on the internet, where you can purchase basic prescription glasses for as little as $ 6.95, which is a total bargain. Whatever your solution will be, we hope this article has helped you!