Author: Eric Johnson
Date: April 16, 2022

Things You Should Know About Photochromic Lenses

For some people, wearing glasses isn't just a fashion statement or a way to complete an outfit; it's also necessary to address vision problems.

However, wearing prescription glasses outdoors, especially when the sun is shining brightly, can be uncomfortable. To protect your eyes from harmful sun rays, you'd have to switch between this set and use photochromic or transition lenses instead.

So if you're looking for photochromic lenses, you should know about photochromic or transition lenses. In this article, to help you understand the benefits, we're covering everything you need to know about these underrated lenses.

What Are Photochromic Lenses?

Photochromic Lenses

Photochromic or transition lenses, commonly referred to as transition lenses, are a type of eyewear that adapts to changing lighting conditions automatically. They are intended to darken in direct sunlight and lighten in low-light situations. For those who frequently travel between indoor and outdoor settings or spend a lot of time outside, this technology makes them quite convenient as they eliminate the need for multiple pairs of glasses or constantly switch between sunglasses and regular glasses.
Other terms used for these lenses include "light-adaptive lenses" and "variable tint lenses." One of the most popular brands of photochromic lenses is Transitions, although other brands are also available.

How do Photochromic Lenses Work?

Regular sunglasses block out particular wavelengths of light with either colored filters or polarisation. As photochromic lenses are carbon-based, the molecules react to UV; they change shape and absorb light, making the lenses look darker.

When you step outdoors, UV rays from the sun hit your glasses, and the molecules inside your photochromic lenses will activate and darken.

The shades vary from clear to darker, depending on UV levels. The darkening can take up to 30 seconds for the tint to take effect on the glasses, and it can take between two to five minutes to return to normal when going back indoors.

They offer UV protection, which helps general eye health. 

Photochromic lenses, made of plastic, glass, or polycarbonate, come in various prescription glasses choices for those with eyesight problems. In many cases, plastic photochromic lenses are preferred over glass because of their molecular makeup. Users find the tint on plastic lenses more evenly distributed than on photochromic glass lenses.

Benefits of Photochromic Lenses

  • Blocking 100% of UVA/UVB light helps reduce eye strain, eye damage, and eye cataract risk later in life.
  • There's no need to carry both glasses and sunglasses, and you won't have to switch between them.
  • Although photochromic glasses are more expensive than regular prescription glasses, they are practically two-in-one, so you won't have to buy separate glasses and shades.

Pros and cons of photochromic lenses

Is it worth using the transition lens? You can consider these pros and cons before figuring out if this lens is suitable for you.


  1. Cost-effectiveness: Some people assume that these lenses are an unnecessary luxury because they are more expensive than regular glasses. Think about it: once you own transition lenses, you will not need to purchase two sets of frames for your prescription and regular glasses, making it the most cost-effective option.
  2. Convenience: Since these lenses are a two-in-one option, you don't have to carry two pairs of glasses. And these glasses are the best ones for both indoors and outdoors.
  3. Comfort and protection: These lenses filter out many of the sun's harmful UV and UVB rays, keeping your eyes healthy and happy.
  4.  Lesser risk of losing glasses.: If you switch from your prescription to sunglasses when going outside, you're more likely to lose your glasses. When you only have one pair of glasses to worry about, it's much easier to keep track of them.
  5. Style:  There are a number of choices available. Many designs, tints, and shades suit every type of fashion, giving you the freedom to have eyewear that fits your style.


  1.  Decreased performance in cold weather: Photochromic lenses take longer to transition from clear to dark and vice versa during the cold months.
  2. Ineffectiveness in night driving: You can't rely on your light-adaptive lenses to protect you from dazzling headlights if you're driving along the highway late at night. Most of these glasses only react to UV rays emitted by the sun.
  3. May not be polarized: Not all transition glasses are polarized, so they may not provide complete protection from harsh glares in various environments, such as water, pavement, and snow.

 Types of Photochromic Lenses

  • Glass photochromic lenses

Glass photochromic lenses are still widely used today despite being the first type of photochromic lens. They are composed of glass and are noted for their durability and scratch resistance.

  • Plastic photochromic lenses

Plastic photochromic lenses that are made of plastic, are a popular alternative for people seeking a lightweight and comfortable option. They are also less prone to break than glass lenses.

  • Polarized photochromic lenses

Polarized photochromic lenses combine the advantages of polarised and photochromic lenses. They are an excellent choice for outdoor sports like fishing and skiing, since they give UV protection and reduce glare.

Choosing the Right Photochromic Lenses

  • Consideration of prescription needs

Photochromic lenses can be made with a prescription for those who need vision correction. It's important to consult with an eye doctor to ensure the right prescription is used.

  • Consideration of lifestyle and activities

When wearing the lenses, think about the activities you will be engaging in. A lighter color may be suitable if you plan to spend most of your time indoors. A darker shade might be better if you spend a lot of time outside.

  • Comparison of different brands and types

Distinct photochromic lens manufacturers and types have different features and benefits, so it's crucial to compare them before making a purchase. This might assist you in determining the best alternative for your requirements and budget.

Who Should Wear Photochromic Glasses?

Photochromic transition glasses are a good option for on-the-go people and anyone who wears Rx glasses. Photochromic glasses will transition with you if you often move in and out of your home for work or love the outdoors. There's no need to switch your glasses for sunglasses or vice versa all the time. You'll also avoid those annoying days when you forget to bring your sunglasses with you when you're out and about. Photochromic glasses do the work for you and adapt to your lifestyle.

Ask your eye care provider which brands have the best “transition” (fade-back) time. You may also consider adding an anti-reflective coating for additional help filtering blue light.

Are you ready to shop for photochromic lenses? Ask your eye doctor whether light-adaptive glasses or contact lenses are right for you. 

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