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All About Transition Sunglasses


Transition sunglasses can be a great option for your vision care if you want to eliminate switching from regular glasses to sunglasses when you go outside. They also have drawbacks though, so you'll want to consider your specific preferences, as well as the information provided here, before you decide to purchase glasses with photochromic lenses.

Learn more about the pros and cons of transition glasses with the eye care professionals at Clarkson Eyecare. 


What are Transition Sunglasses?

You may hear others use the term "transition sunglasses," but this refers to a specific brand of glasses. Transition lenses are also called photochromic sunglasses, which are glasses that change from clear to dark lenses when exposed to sunlight. They are made withspecial dyes that chemically change when they're exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are many other brands of photochromic lenses available.

In their early days, photochromic lenses would darken only to gray. Today, you can choose from a variety of darkening colors.

The Pros and Cons of Photochromic Sunglasses

The Pros

Now that you understand what photochromic lenses do, let’s discuss the advantages of wearing them. These lenses are: 

  • Easier to keep track of one pair of glasses

  • Perfect for children needing prescription lenses

  • Able to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays

  • Great for outdoor activities

  • Wearable while playing sports

  • Cost-effective and allow you to save money

Having just one pair of glasses instead of two makes photochromic lenses easier to keep track of. You're less likely to lose your glasses because you only have one pair. These prescription lenses are a great option for children with correction needs for the same reason, as it eliminates the need for them to carry multiple pairs of glasses.

Photochromic lenses are also great for protecting your eyes from harmful UV exposure, which can increase your risk for cataracts. Your eyes are being exposed to UV rays anytime you’re outside in the sunlight, even if the sky is cloudy. This means you need to make a habit of wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes during outdoor activities, which is easier with photochromic lenses.

In addition to offering both nearsighted and farsighted prescriptions, photochromic lenses can also be made as bifocals. This may allow you to save money because you're ordering just one pair of glasses instead of two, which can be especially costly for those needing specialty lenses.

These glasses are also highly durable, as they are made from materials such as polycarbonate and Trivex. These two materials are both lighter in weight and more scratch resistant when compared to traditional prescription lens materials.

The Cons

Although photochromic lenses have many benefits, they also have a few cons. You'll also want to consider the downsides of these sunglasses:

  • They don’t always darken right away

  • The level of darkness depends on the brand

  • Some types don’t work in cars because the windshield usually has UV ray protection

  • They take longer to darken in cold weather

  • They may darken in environments where you want them to remain clear, such as in an office with bright lighting

It’s important to know that some glasses may take up to five minutes to darken, so ask your eye doctor which type they recommend. There are also brands of lenses that can darken in cars, allowing you to protect your eyes during your daily commute. 

Your Local Eyeglass Shop

Make sure to talk to your eye doctor

Make sure to talk to your eye doctor when trying to decide if making the switch to photochromic lenses is right for you. They can provide you with recommendations based on your needs and preferences, which can prevent you from experiencing some of the cons of photochromic lenses. 

Helpful Tips for Those with Their First Pair of Photochromic Sunglasses

If you've made the decision to try this special type of sunglasses, you'll want to keep a few things in mind to get the most out of them:

  • Ask your eye doctor about the best way to clean them. You don't want to use any solutions or materials that may cause scratches.

  • Avoid switching between your old prescription glasses and your new ones

  • Find out how long your sunglasses should darken properly

Keeping your new photochromic specs on helps you get used to your transition lenses. If needed, you can use your new glasses an hour or two a day and then gradually build up the amount of time you use them. Talk to your eye doctor if you have any problems adjusting to your transition sunglasses.

When buying transition glasses make sure to ask about the life span of your lenses, as many manufacturers state the transition feature will work for two years.

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Find Out if Photochromic Sunglasses are Right for You with Clarkson Eyecare

Think you may want to try transition lenses? Find a Clarkson Eyecare location near you to schedule your next comprehensive eye exam and speak with your doctor about transition lenses.