At any given moment, somewhere between fifty and sixty percent of the population wears some form of prescription lenses. It seems like less of us because so many people either wear contacts or have weak enough need for correction to go without most of the time, but the fact of the matter is that fewer people have ‘normal’ eyes than the bespectacled majority. Among those of us that actually wear our glasses all day, every day, there is one surprisingly important decision. To wear shades over our glasses or get prescription sunglasses? In fact, if you want to live a full life, able to see things in a large variety of circumstances, you will inevitably wind up with more than one pair of glasses. There are prescription safety glasses, prescription swim goggles, and by far the most popular, the prescription sunglasses.
Owning a pair of sunglasses is not an option. Stylish as they can be, sunglasses are essential safety equipment for driving and activity during the day, especially in the morning and evening, and is something that glasses wearers have struggled with for hundreds of years. We’ve been trying to figure out the most convenient way to add shades to prescription lenses for as long as both have existed.
The first and simplest solution is simply to have two pairs of prescription glasses, one with a tint applied to the lenses. This is still a common fallback when more advanced options aren’t available. Unfortunately, this requires you to keep a case handy to hold the unused pair. Each switch takes thirty seconds to two minutes depending on your speed and you have to take good care of both pairs of glasses to ensure vision clarity both indoors and out.
Because glasses are neat, part of our constant daily lives, and people are innovative we have continued to work on ideas for shaded prescription glasses. Another solution was to wear non-prescription lenses that fit over your normal glasses. This technically achieves the same thing and has some pros and cons depending on the design. One application of this method is a pair of shades that hang around the neck, keeping your shades add-ons handy without requiring you to stow your original glasses. Other solutions involve large lenses on thin wire frames, a folding pair of pocket sun-shades, and large fisherman’s shades that slot over your normal glasses. These have the benefit of being lendable to non-glasses-wearing friends, but always add a certain amount of inconvenience and additional weight on your nose and ears.
As we get better at making glasses, the techniques available for transitioning from clear lenses to shades also improves. Clip-ons are one of the more recent innovations, and by that we mean that they were patented in 1960 and were popularized in the 80s. Clip-on shades are just the front frame of a pair of tinted-nonprescription sunglasses that are made to perfectly attach with small clamps or magnets to the front of your normal prescription glasses. They add only about half the weight of doubling up, can be switched in about five to thirty seconds, and don’t require you to take off your normal glasses. They do, however, have to be stowed safely in a protected (won’t get sat on) and lens-soft pouch, then retrieved and put away as you switch between bright and dim environments.
Briefly, clip-ons developed an off-shoot known as flip-up glasses which did reduce the transition time to about two seconds in both directions, they also looked ridiculous when in the flipped-up state so were abandoned by most fairly quickly.
As time rolled on, science and chemistry technique got a lot cooler. Prescription lenses can now be treated with a photochromatic or “light reactive color” solution that responds specifically to the risky UV waves given off by the sun. These lenses effectively know when you’re indoors, in the shade, or standing in direct sunlight. With minimal UV present, they are perfectly clear so act like normal glasses inside but the moment you step out into the sun, the coating responds to UV exposure and darkens to protect your eyes. Then when you go inside they clear up once the UV is gone.
This unique chemical reaction allows us to solve a centuries-old problem of how to have both tinted and untinted lenses with the least possible interruption. With transition lenses, you don’t have to carry any extra equipment or do anything at all for your normal prescription glasses to become the prescription sunglasses you need, then transition right back. Hands-free and incredibly convenient.
If you’re still working with a switching-out system, whether it’s two pairs of glasses, clip-ons, or cover shades, it’s time to make a change. Your next pair of glasses doesn’t have to come with the hassle of fishing out your shades when you go outside and polishing two pairs of lenses. With transition glasses, the photochromatic coating takes care of your eyes so you can focus on other things like what you’re doing, where you’re going, and the people you’re spending time with. Put down the giant over-shades, throw away your clip-ons, and carefully tuck away those prescription sunglasses for emergencies. It’s time to go hands-free with prescription transition glasses. For more information about transition lenses or where you can find them, contact us today!
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