• The Pros and Cons of Transition Sunglasses Lenses

    Written By: David Turbert
    Reviewed By: Devin A Harrison MD
    Jun. 30, 2017

    If you wear glasses you’re familiar with the hassles of dealing with the sun. You carry both your glasses and sunglasses wherever you go, switching back and forth each time you go outside and then head back in. One simple alternative is to wear glasses with photochromic or "transition" lenses. These special lenses darken in the sun then lighten when you go inside.

    Photochromic lenses have been around for decades. Once, glass lenses were your only material choice and grey lenses the only color. But today’s photochromic glasses come in many materials and an array of lens colors. The most popular brand today is Transitions, but photochromic lenses are made by many manufacturers. Other brands include Sensity, Thin & Dark and PhotoFusion.

    Photochromic lenses darken through different processes, depending on the type of lens and brand. The earliest glass photochromic lenses relied on silver chloride or silver halide to react to UV light and darken. Most of today’s photochromic lenses use proprietary dyes that undergo chemical changes that darken the lenses when exposed to UV light.

    Are "Transition Lenses" Right for You?

    Glasses with photochromic lenses certainly offer convenience, but are these types of glasses for you? Here are the pros and cons of photochromic glasses:

    Advantages of Transition Lenses

    • They are convenient. You can use these glasses under most circumstances, whether indoors or outside. 
    • They offer continuous UV protection. You will no longer forget your sunglasses or not bother to put them on for a trip outside.
    • They won’t get lost as easily. You and your children are less likely to lose glasses when you don’t have two pairs to keep track of.
    • They are available in many styles and colors, and can meet the prescription needs of most people. If you need shatter-resistant lenses, bifocals, progressives or have other specific needs, there’s almost certainly a photochromic lens for you.
    • They can save you money. You may not need to buy prescription eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses as well.

    Drawbacks of Transition Lenses

    • They darken and lighten to varying degrees depending on the brand. Some also take longer to change than others. Discuss your needs and options with an eyecare professional.
    • They can take longer to adjust in cold weather.
    • They don’t darken as well inside cars. Auto glass has some UV protection, which can prevent photochromic lenses from darkening. Some lenses are designed to help solve this problem.

    Today’s advanced, high-quality eyeglasses with photochromic lenses may not be a splurge, but a sensible solution for many people. Consider whether they’re a good fit for your lifestyle.