Wearing sunglasses when you already wear prescription glasses can be tricky. Either you forfeit the sunglasses and squint while you’re outside, risking UV damage to your eyes (not recommended), or you dig around for your sunglasses and wear them instead of your regular glasses (really not recommended).
If your vision is too poor to go without a prescription, the latter is probably not an option for you, which begs the question: Is protecting your eyes from the sun more important than seeing clearly?
The answer is that you don’t have to choose. Photochromic lenses, such as Transitions® lenses, adapt seamlessly from inside fluorescents to the sunlight outside, shielding your eyes from ultraviolet (UV) exposure while maintaining your individualized prescription and providing clear vision.
Below, we answer some common questions about photochromic lenses and dive into the different types of lens tints available.
What are the benefits of photochromic lenses?
Imagine being able to walk outside in your prescription glasses and having them darken automatically to shield your eyes from the afternoon sun. Photochromic lenses are an easy and effective way to protect your vision when going from indoors to outdoors.
Photochromic lenses also save you the money of having to buy a pair of prescription sunglasses in addition to your regular eyeglasses. Plus, having only one pair of glasses to keep up with adds a layer of convenience and lessens the likelihood of you misplacing your glasses.
Can you get photochromic lenses with any prescription?
Photochromic lenses are available for most prescriptions. Book an eye exam to find out if your prescription is eligible for a photochromic upgrade.
Can photochromic tints be added to existing lenses?
No. The light-adaptive technology of photochromic lenses is built into each new lens upon creation; it’s not a special treatment or coating that can be added later. Fortunately, photochromic lenses come in a wide variety of frame styles and lens designs, from aviator to cat-eye and single vision to progressive. Use it as an opportunity to treat yourself to some new specs.
Are photochromic lenses as good as sunglasses?
When outdoors, yes. Photochromic lenses work by using molecules in the glass to sense and adjust depending on the level of UV radiation detected.
Because the windshield of your car blocks UV rays, photochromic lenses may not get as dark when you’re behind the wheel. Although Transitions Drivewear® lenses sense visible light (in addition to UV rays) to adjust more appropriately, some people also like to have a pair of prescription sunglasses handy for driving.
Can you wear photochromic lenses at night?
Yes. At night, in the absence of the sun’s UV rays, photochromic lenses are completely clear, just like a standard pair of eyeglasses. If you have a pair of Transitions XTRActive® style mirrors, there will still be a slight tint and reflection in the lenses, but your visibility will not be affected.
How long do photochromic lenses last?
Photochromic lenses should last as long as your prescription is valid — anywhere from 24 to 30 months.
Photochromic tint options
There are many options available for photochromic lens tint colors, but the three most common are gray, green and brown. Each offers its own benefits, and all block 100% of UV radiation and protect from blue light.
Gray — Appropriate for sunny and cloudy days, gray lenses are ideal for general, everyday use, including driving. They offer the ability to see colors in their true form without any effect from the tint.
Green — Best for reducing glare and brightening shadows, green lenses provide higher contrast than gray lenses and more exact color accuracy than brown lenses. They’re a good option for any outdoor activity in any weather condition.
Brown — Not recommended in low-light conditions such as early evening or a cloudy day, brown lenses improve depth perception for activities like driving, golfing and fishing.
Lively lens tints
If you prefer a little more pizazz in your eyewear, Transitions lenses now come in an exciting new line of style colors, including emerald, sapphire, amethyst, and amber. While emerald and amber lenses provide the same benefits as green and brown (just in a more vibrant fashion), sapphire (blue) and amethyst (purple) have their own merit.
Blue- and purple-tinted lenses, outside of being extremely fashionable, reduce glare, improve color perception and enhance contours. A blue tint can also be calming for your eyes. These tints are ideal for a sunny round of golf, a day on the slopes, or navigating through misty or foggy conditions.
For those who are looking for sunglasses that really reflect their personal style, Transitions XTRActive lenses have a mirrored finish available in a variety of colors, including pink, gold and red. That finish gives an added touch of flair outdoors that dissolves when you step inside, leaving behind just a mild reflection and a bit of color.
No matter how much time you spend in the sun, photochromic lenses can make your life easier. Consult with your eye doctor to get an updated eyeglasses prescription and start customizing your next pair of glasses with photochromic lenses.