Photochromic lenses, or more commonly known as ‘Transition’ lenses, are glasses that darken automatically when you enter an area with bright sunlight. These lenses have a layer of film that reacts to the UV rays coming from the sunlight. They are an excellent option for people who don’t want to remove their glasses and put on a separate pair of sunglasses when confronted with bright sunlight. You have one pair of glasses that are clear while you’re indoors, but that go dark when you’re outside.
In the past, transitional lenses’ main disadvantage occurred while driving. This is because a car’s windscreen already has a UV blocker of its own, so the lenses didn’t darken even when bright light shone in a person’s eyes. Recently, a brand called Transitions™ launched a new transitional material that overcomes this issue.
Transitional lenses activate by being in the sunshine, and the level of tinting/darkness is dependent upon how much light is in the immediate environment. Our experience is that these lenses aren’t quite as dark as the darkest sunglasses, but they still successfully reduce the need for sunglasses in the majority of bright light conditions.
These glasses are very convenient. Once you get used to wearing them you’ll never find yourself squinting again. In fact, I would call them ‘squint-free technology’! Photochromic lenses will work in any glasses frame that can take an optical lens, but they’re best suited in frames that have a thick border. This way they can look stylish and fashionable when used as both optical glasses and as sunglasses.
Now it’s time for the money question. The reality is transitional lenses will save you money because you won’t need to buy separate glasses and sunglasses. The savings become even more pronounced when the cost of the lens increases due to specialised lens types like multifocal glasses. You can save upwards of $200 when compared to purchasing both prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses. We suggest investing the money saved into buying a higher quality frame, or in a better lens material.
These days more people buy transitional lenses when compared to prescription sunglasses because of the convenience of not having to carry two separate frames/pairs of glasses everywhere you go.
Transitional lenses usually turn either grey or brown when exposed to bright light. Most agree this is simply an aesthetic difference, but we’ve found the brown tint provides a higher contrast, which can reduce strain on your eyes. On the other hand, we believe the brown tint may alter the hues of some colours, i.e. red can sometimes appear as burgundy.
Usually it comes down to personal preference, but the grey colour is more commonly worn, because it transforms into a darker shade than the brown tint. There isn’t as much contrast with the grey, but colour hues can be seen in their natural state. The other day one of my friends went outside with me after being indoors together and was shocked to see my glasses automatically ‘turn’ into sunglasses. This is a truly remarkable technology. Come down to Visual Q Eyecare and we’ll show you the life changing power of transitional glasses!
By Simon Ch’ng