Prescription Sunglasses or Transition Lenses?

People who wear prescription eyeglasses have greater flexibility and more choices than ever before. Consider the subject of sunglasses. In the past, opting for a second pair of prescription sunglasses was really the only way you could simultaneously maintain clear vision and shield your eyes from the effects of the sun. This option is still available and may, for a variety of reasons, be the best choice for you. But since the advent of Transition lenses, buying a second pair is no longer the only choice open to you.

So which one would work best in your particular case? Let’s weigh the pros and cons of both prescription sunglasses and Transition lenses.

The Best Choice: Prescription Sunglasses vs. Transitions Lenses

Transition, or photochromic, lenses feature some obvious advantages. They’re clear lenses that automatically darken when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, such as that cast off by the sun. This means your regular eyeglasses will essentially transform into sunglasses in the presence of sunlight, and revert back to clear lenses when sunlight is absent.

With photochromic lenses you’ll only have to purchase one pair of prescription eyeglasses to get both standard eyewear and sunglasses. This keeps your cost down and offers the convenience of a single pair of glasses – no searching around for lost sunglasses, no eyewear left at home or in the car when you need it. Your sunglasses will always be with you…ready to automatically appear when you need them.

With this kind of technology readily available, you may wonder why photochromic lenses haven’t rendered a second set of prescription sunglasses obsolete. The reasons involve personal preference as well as some limitations innate to Transition eyewear.

To begin with, some people prefer a separate set of sunglasses for reasons of fashion. Their sunglasses can be radically different from their regular eyewear frames in terms of style or color, allowing for a change of pace. Also, photochromic lenses will only darken to a certain degree, blocking out about 75% light at their maximum; prescription sunglasses can block as much as 85% of incoming light. Transition lenses may simply not be dark enough for some.

Additionally, Transition lenses will not fully darken without the presence of UV light, a factor that often comes into play while driving. Most automobile windshields are designed to block UV rays, so the full potential of photochromic eyewear is not triggered when used inside a vehicle. If you prefer to drive with a fairly dark set of sunglasses, you may lean towards the option of prescription sunglasses.

Weigh these options when considering which choice is right for you. And as always, if you have any questions or comments, please share them with us.

  1. Cheryl l day says:

    Can you tell me the exact RGB gray colors of the photochromic lens?

  2. Ann Stainback says:

    I currently have transition lenses and am not a fan of them due to vanity reasons. I am wanting a separate pair of prescription sunglasses that do not transition, but stay darkened. What do I ask for in regarding the type of lense? I don’t want to spend extra money on extra features for these glasses. Thanks

    • rxsafety says:

      Hi Ann,

      You would have to select either a polarized lens or select just a regular tinted lens such as gray or brown with no polarization.

  3. Robert Duarte says:

    Do you make non-prescription transition lenses? I had cataract surgery and no longer need my perscription glasses. I bought a pair of regular sunglasses but they’re too dark. What do you recommed?

    • rxsafety says:

      Hi Robert,

      While we do not carry stock non-prescription transition glasses, you can customize just about any pair on our website to have these features. Please take a look at our website, A member of our customer service team, can assist you through our online chat selecting the perfect frame and what options would be best for your needs.

  4. Heather Shannon says:

    I just got a pair of glasses that I love. Before, I never wore my glasses but now I wear them every waking hour, even when I want to wear sunglasses I don’t, there’s too much strain on my eyes. The shape of my frames would look good as sunglasses, so I’m thinking of getting Transition lenses put in. My question Is, can you give me an approximate price(Canadian dollars if possible) to get the lenses. My prescription is a little complicated, cost $40 more than the advertised price When I got my glasses. Also, with Transition lenses, will the “tint” go halfway between glasses and sunglasses? I work indoors but a lot of light comes in

    • jsiddiqui says:

      Hi Heather, since we are US based company I would only be able to provide the cost in USD – you can convert it into CAD. To be able to tell the exact price, we would need to know your prescription, if you want a bifocal, and which transition feature you are looking to get (standard, vantage or xtractive).

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