What are Photochromic Lenses?

Craig Banda - B.Optom(UJ), ND Optical Disp(CPUT)

Photochromic lenses are clear lenses that darken when exposed to ultraviolet rays. As Transitions is the most popular brand of photochromic lenses, these lenses are often referred to as “transition lenses”. Benefits of these lenses include:

  • They absorb 100% of UVA and UVB rays.

  • Reduced eyestrain as a result of glare from the sun.

  • Often eliminates the need for an additional pair of sunglasses.

  • They are available in most prescriptions.

Over the years, thanks to technology, the speed at which these lenses change have improved dramatically. Lenses thus go from dark to light a lot faster, and vice-versa. We are currently using our 8 th generation of Transition lenses. The advance in technology is clearly evident in the performance of these lenses. Benefits over the previous version include:

  • Apart from changing more rapidly, the latest version of Transitions lenses goes darker outdoors and are clearer indoors, compared to its predecessor.

  • The lens offers greater blue light protection which is vital in terms of maintaining eye health.

  • It is available in a wider range of colours to suit your lifestyle.

One of the drawbacks of photochromic lenses is the fact that they do not get very dark in a car. As mentioned, the lenses are activated by ultraviolet light, which to a large extent is blocked out by your car’s windscreen. For someone looking for a more effective option whilst driving, Transitions have brought out what they call Transitions Xtractive. These lenses are best suited for people who spend a significant amount of time driving or large portions of the day outdoors. The only trade-off is the fact that there is a slight residual tint when indoors. To reduce this effect, it is advised to include an anti-reflective coating on your lenses.

Transitions or photochromic lenses are a great way to protect your eyes, potentially reduce costs and perhaps add some convenience to your daily routine.

It’s best to discuss your visual needs with your eyecare professional so that together you can tailor a solution for you.