What is Photochromic Lens?

If you’re reading this you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “photochromic” used in relation to eyewear lenses, and you wonder what they are and what they do.

What are Photochromic Lenses?

Photochromic lenses automatically darken, in a matter of minutes, when exposed to the ultraviolet light of the sun. When the source of light is removed – you walk indoors, into the shade, or night falls – the lenses revert back to their clear state.

You may have heard reference to photochromic lenses under the name “transitions,” a more popular name for them. “Transition” and “photochromic” are basically interchangeable terms for the same thing. The transitions moniker comes from the brand name, Transitions®, which are the early photochromic lenses developed and marketed by Transitions Optical. Today the process of applying a photochromic coating to lenses is in widespread use and typically available wherever prescription lenses are manufactured.

A pair of photochromic lenses essentially transforms your eyeglasses into sunglasses…only when you need sunglasses. Then they revert back to standard, clear prescription lenses. They adjust to the level of sunlight they’re exposed to and always maintain an appropriate tint based on this amount of UV light.

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to try photochromic lenses in your next pair of eyeglasses or the next time you update your prescription, here are some facts to consider:

  • Photochromic lenses are generally available in two different colors, brown and gray. The choice is purely aesthetic as both colors function the exact same way.
  • Photochromic lenses offer 100% protection from both UVA and UVB rays. This protection is present all the time – when the lenses are fully clear, fully tinted, or anywhere in between.
  • Since photochromic lenses react only to ultraviolet light, they remain clear when exposed to most forms of indoor, artificial lighting.
  • Photochromic lenses typically do not darken when worn inside a vehicle. This is because automobile windshields are already treated to block UV light, so none strikes the lenses. For daytime driving you may want to offset your photochromic glasses with a pair of clip-on sunglasses, fitover sunglasses, or separate prescription sunglasses.
  • Photochromic lenses are available in just about every lightweight lens material, glass or plastic, and are fully compatible with anti-reflective coatings.
  • Photochromic lenses are available in most specialty applications, such as bifocals and progressive-style trifocals.

If you currently use both prescription eyeglasses and a separate pair of prescription sunglasses, you may find you like packing all your corrective and protective vision needs into a single pair of glasses, one that you always have with you. Now you can with photochromic lenses. Visit Rx-Safety to explore all the frame and lenses options available to you if decide to give them a try.

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