Updated: Nov 30, 2020
This is really common.
As an Optometrist, I hear those words just about every day. People ask me, "Dr. Charron, I can see out of these glasses but I have to clean them every 5 minutes and they smudge so easily. Why?"
This can really ruin the experience for eyewear consumers and patients. Just think about it. You have gone through the process of choosing your eyewear, and may have paid several hundred dollars for your new eyeglasses - maybe you splurged on designer eyewear and got top of the line high index lenses or progressive lenses. Then you take them home and they need to be cleaned "every five minutes"!
Now I can't be sure without seeing your eyeglass lenses in person, but I'm assuming you got an anti-reflective coating your lenses.
What's an anti-reflective coating?
An anti reflective coating for your glasses is a layer that is place on either or both sides of the the lenses to minimize glare and reflections. This is a good thing for the wearer - driving, computer use and viewing experiences on any screens will be enhanced. It's also a good thing for anyone who is looking at you. If you wear glasses, and you are face to face with people, they will not appreciate trying to see your eyes behind a wall of glare and reflections on your lenses.
Why do anti reflective coatings cause smudging?
The reason why is because of a layer in the coating with something called Oleophobic and Hydrophobic properties. The word "Oleophobic" is broken down into "oleo" which means grease or oil and "phobic" which means "fear of" or "repel". So this oleophobic layer repels grease. "Hydrophobic" means to repel water.
Some of the cheaper anti reflective coatings do not have this layer, and they will smudge and attract grease, oil and water immediately. You will find the cheaper anti reflective coatings will smudge most often - even more so than the lenses not treated with any anti reflective coatings.
Most of the top grade anti glare coatings do have it, though. When you buy and anti reflective coating, just ask your optometrist or optician if it has a layer to repel oil and water - similar to "scotch guard protection".
How To Tell If Your Eyeglasses Have This Type of Anti Reflective Coating Layer
Many cell phones have this layer on their screen too, and you might have noticed that if you drop some liquid on the screen, it beads up and rolls off. That is what you want to see. Put a drop of water on your lens and see if it does that. If so, you most likely have that layer.
How Do I protect My Anti Glare Coating to Minimize the Smudging?
The oleophobic/hydrophobic layer does not last forever but there are a few ways to get more life out of it. When you do have to clean your lenses, simply use a microfiber cloth and the lens cleaner provided by the optician. Stay away from paper products like tissues, napkins, paper towels and alcohol cleansers and even cotton t shirts/rags. These will ruin your anti reflective coating and you'll get scratches and smudges again.
With a little knowledge and care, you can make the right purchasing decision, enjoy your glasses more, and help them last longer.
If you have any questions about eyeglass lenses, or anti reflective coatings, please call our eye clinic in Bellingham, WA today.
Northwest Vision Development Center Office Phone: 360 393 4479