How Good are Transition Lenses?

The “magical” properties of transition lenses often raise a natural, healthy skepticism.

Are Transition Lenses As Good As They Say?

After all, they start out as perfectly crystal-clear prescription lenses inside or at night, but when exposed to the UV rays of the sun, darken to shade the eyes. This happens in a matter of moments and the lenses adjust to just the amount of sun present; a little bit results in a light tint while full, direct sunlight darkens them fully. When that light source is removed, they again return to a clear state. They do this over and over again, automatically, without wearing out.

But how well do they really work? What are their drawbacks, their weak points, their pros and cons? Transition lenses feature a number of obvious selling points but they aren’t for everyone, and the benefits may not be ideal for you. At Rx-Safety, we don’t only want to sell you your frames and glasses, we want to you to be completely satisfied with them. To that end, we’ve assembled some notes below that you can use as a checklist when trying to determine if transition lenses are right for you.


  • They automatically adjust to lighting conditions without any effort on behalf of the wearer.
  • They come in two different colors, brown and gray. Both styles function exactly the same and the choice of color is strictly a matter of individual preference.
  • Regardless of their state – fully clear, fully tinted, or anywhere in between – transition lenses provide 100% protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
  • They react only to ultraviolet light, so will not accidentally darken when exposed to most forms of artificial lighting, indoor or out.
  • Transition lenses are fully compatible with anti-reflective coatings and are available in virtually every lightweight lens material and design.
  • They are available in both prescription and non-prescription form, and in a variety of specialty applications, such as bifocals and progressive lenses.


  • Most modern automobile windshields are designed to block ultraviolet light. Therefore, transition lenses typically do not darken fully when worn inside a vehicle. You may require a separate pair of sunglasses or clip-ons for driving to achieve a comfortable darkness level.
  • They do not adjust instantaneously. Your eyes are exposed for a short time when you first encounter sunlight, and shaded for a period when you enter a darkened room from outside.
  • While most of the transition takes place in the first minute, it can take up to fifteen minutes for transition lenses to reach their fully darkened state and another fifteen minutes to fully clear again.
  • They react differently in different climates. Transition lenses will reach a darker state at cold temperatures than they will at warmer temperatures.

Objectively speaking, the “good” outweighs the “bad” with transition lenses, explaining their popularity and widespread use. But only you know what’s best for you. Whether or not you decide to order transitions, Rx-Safety has literally thousands of framewear choices for your lenses, and other lens options as well. And we’re here to answer any further questions you may have about transitions or any other eyewear.

  1. Felix says:

    How about the so-called Graphite Green lenses (Transitions)? Pilots use green lenses because they supposedly have truer color perception and enhanced contrast.

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