Lenses: Transitions (Light Responsive, Photochromic)

“Transition Lenses”.. “Photochromic”.. “The Lenses that change outside”.. “Those ones that change color when you go in the sun”..

All of these are super common ways that people generally describe “Transition/Photochromic – Light Responsive” lenses when they’re in the Optical. None of these customer descriptions are wrong, but I’ll give you some pointers on what to look for when selecting your new Light Responsive Lenses as well as some cool features that these lenses have!

Apart from the science behind Photochromic Lenses, these lenses are generally really cool with quite a few user features that many customers weren’t aware of. What are a few basic features of these cool lenses, you say? Well, glad you asked…

  • This lens option generally comes in multiple color options! Some of the most common options are Grey, Brown and Green. Consult your local optical shop or a trusted Licensed Optician for more details on color options.
  • Light Responsive Lenses have a built-in Blue Light Filter! Since these lenses are activated by intense levels of UV (unseen Blue Light), there is an unintended, but super useful benefit to having them! The Blue Light from your digital devices, fluorescent lighting and other sources aren’t intense enough to activate the lenses, but the lenses will act as a Blue Light Barrier while you wear them.
  • There are “Polarized” Transition Options! That’s right, there are options for the lenses to become polarized (Sun Lenses!) once fully activated by the sun. Consult your local optical shop or a trusted Licensed Optician for details about this lens option.
  • There are Transition Lenses options that allow the lenses to change while you’re in the car.
  • You can combine a multitude of options with Light Responsive Lens technology such as: Progressive Lenses (Multifocal), BiFocals, Hi-Index Lenses, Anti-Reflective Coatings, Flash Mirrors, and much more.

There are many options to fit many different needs. Although Light Responsive Lenses offer many benefits, there are a few drawbacks. What are these drawbacks, you say? Let’s explore…

  • Although the lenses get to their maximum darkness in a matter of seconds, they generally take several minutes to return to their original clarity. Depending on the brand of Light Responsive lenses used, you may experience faster transition times than others. Consult your local optical shop or a trusted Licensed Optician for more details about transition times.
  • Some lens options aren’t completely clear indoors. Although this may not be such a big deal for some folks, others find the slight tint a bit a bit troubling while wearing the lenses indoors.
  • All Photochromic Lenses are not created equal! Be sure to consult your local optical shop and/or a trusted Licensed Optician when considering Photochromic options to ensure you get the product you anticipate. Ask for the options that you want and allow the professionals to recommend the products that are available to satisfy your requests.

It is important to note that “Transitions”, while being a lens type, is also a BRAND of lenses. The fact that there is a brand named after the lens technology could make purchasing these types of lenses a little tricky. The brand “Transitions” has developed a lot of very helpful and innovative technology for Photochromic Lenses and some would consider them to be in the top tier of Light Responsive lens technology. There are a few different brands to choose from and it’s valuable to understand which brand your Optical Shop and/or Licensed Optician is supplying you with.

It’s important to remember, “To look and see your best, a Licensed Optician is your vision expert”.

All of these different lens options! What’s the big difference?! Do I even need any of it?

Great questions! And, the short answer is “Yes”. The not-so-short and usually correct answer is “Yes AND No”. Allow us to explain…

So, let’s talk about lens additions.. There are so many to choose from, but let’s try to narrow it down to some of the most common and most popular items that your local Eyeglass Store or Licensed Optician may offer you.

Just to name a few options:

  • Anti-Reflective Coating
  • Blue Light Filtering (Clear or Traditional)
  • Transitions (Light Responsive)
  • Polarized
  • Mirror Coating
  • Tinted
  • UV Treatment
  • Scratch Resistance

Anti-Reflective Coating: This option is often times called “Anti-Glare” or “Non-Glare” coating. This is beneficial for everyday use and generally gives you the best visual experience. This option cuts out, roughly, 90%+ of outside glare and reflection perceived by your eyes. If you choose nothing else, this is a great option to take advantage of.

Blue Light Filtering: This option has become increasingly popular over the last few years and is beneficial to most people. Basically, there is an increasing number of sources that emit Blue Light that may be harmful to our eyes. A few of the biggest sources of Blue Light are the Sun, your Mobile Devices and Fluorescent Lighting. This option is definitely worth considering when getting a new pair of lenses.

Transitions (Light Responsive): There are quite a few Light Responsive options in terms of Colors, Brands and how they serve you. Some of the more popular options for color changes are True Grey, Brown and G-15 (Green/Grey), although there are many more color options available. Depending on your needs, there are options that become Polarized Sun Lenses when they get dark, options that activate behind the windshield of your car and then there is the traditional option that changes only in direct UV contact. Light Responsive Lenses also Filter Blue Light, as an added benefit.

Polarized & Mirror Coating: Polarized Lenses are generally used in sunglasses to block out Blinding Glare from reflective sources and surfaces. The Mirror Coating is an added protectant for blocking glare while adding a very cool aesthetic to your lenses. Mirrored Lenses are literally what the name implies, Lenses with a Mirror Coating on the front side.

Tinted Lenses: Tinted Lenses are not as popular of an option as polarized lenses, but there are still some very cool and necessary applications. The lenses are more customizable, in terms of color and/or shade; gradient or solid. It’s not always the best option, but sometimes it’s the right one for you.

UV Treatment & Scratch Resistance: UV Protection and Scratch Resistance are some of the most common options and generally are standard items already included in your lenses. There are times where they are an option and if you are ever faced with the “option” to either take it or leave it, please take it. UV Protection helps protect your eyes from Ultraviolet rays that cause many different eye illnesses, such as Cataracts, Retinal Damage and other avoidable issues. Scratch Resistance is just as the name suggests, it helps the lens resist scratches during normal use. Please remember, your lenses will be Scratch RESISTANT, not Scratch PROOF.

Many of the options can be mixed and matched for your individual needs. For instance, you can have a Blue Filtering Lens with Anti-Reflective Coating, Scratch Resistance and UV Treatment. All things are beneficial for your eyes and most likely will satisfy your visual needs. The mixing and matching of the options is largely the reason why “Yes AND No” is the answer to the question. ‘Yes” because they’re all beneficial to you in many ways and “No” because you don’t necessarily “need” all of the options at once.

We recommend finding a Licensed Optician or Eyewear Professional that you trust, determining the options available to you and taking advantage of the ones that best serve your needs. Do a bit of research, ask a lot of questions and make the decision that you feel best serves your needs and budget.