You’ve seen the commercials for Transitions® lenses that adapt to changing light conditions. According to Gary Heiting, OD, the technical name for these light-adapting lenses is “photochromic”. Sometimes photochromic lenses are referred to as “light adaptive” or “variable tint” lenses, but most people, including many eye care professionals, refer to them as Transitions® lenses, leading many eyeglass customers to think that the Transitions® brand is the only one available. Now you know — not true! If you’re thinking about a pair of glasses with photochromic lenses, you should know a little something about photochromic lens options in so that you can make a well-informed decision.
The sun’s ultra-violet (UV) rays activate the molecules that cause photochromic lenses to darken, which is why they’ll still darken on cloudy days because ultra-violet rays can penetrate cloud cover. That’s also why photochromic lenses don’t darken much inside your car, because today’s windshields have glass that blocks most UV rays.
Photochromic lenses are available in nearly all lens materials and designs including hard resin, polycarbonate, high-index, bifocals and progressives.
Photochromic lenses protect your eyes from 100% of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, and because a person’s risk for cataracts is determined by their lifetime exposure to UV rays, they’re also a great choice for children’s eye wear. (One caveat: It’s best to use a polycarbonate lens for children’s glasses because it provides up to 10 times the impact resistance of other lens materials, making it a safer material.)
Another convenient benefit of photochromic lenses is that they eliminate the need to carry around a pair of prescription eyeglasses everywhere you go.
- Transitions® Signature by Transitions Opticals
- Transitions® ExtraActive by Transitions Opticals – These will darken in the car.
- Transitions® Vantage – These lenses stay slightly tinted indoors instead of clearing completely, and polarize as they darken outdoors
- Sensity by Hoya Vision Care – These were just introduced this year. Trademarked technology that ensures they perform consistently in different climates and temperatures.
- LifeRx by Vision Ease Lens – According to the company, these are faster changing than other photochromic lenses.
- PhotoFusion by Carl Zeiss Vision – These lenses are made in Germany. The company says they darken and lighten up to 20% faster than their predecessors.
- ColorMatic by Rodenstock – Also German-made. Available in grey, brown and green tints.
- PhotoViews by Signet Armorlite – Lightweight and available only in plastic or polycarbonate.
- SunSensors by Corning – Made of mid- and light-weight plastics.
- Thin & Dark by Corning – According to the company, their lenses are up to 30% thinner and lighter than traditional glass photochromic lenses.
Each has different features, and some are available in all lens materials, some only in polycarbonate or plastic. Ask your eye care professional for more information about the ones they carry.
For a great on-line selection of photochromic lenses, VS Eyewear can’t be beat. Contact us for more information on any of our great prescription eye wear options!