Which Transition Lenses are the Best?

At this article, discover which transition lenses are the best to fit your needs. At RX Safety, you can add transition lenses to your prescription safety glasses. So your safety glasses with prescription will be great for indoor and outdoor use.

What are Transition™ Lenses?

Transition™ is a brand most known for their high-quality photochromic lenses. When these lenses are exposed to light, the lenses darken in color, and in the absence of light, become clear again. This is caused by the molecules inside the lenses reacting to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) light, absorbing it, and changing tints in response. 

Transition™ developed two methods in creating their photochromic lenses: Imbibing and Trans-Bonding™. Imbibing uses heat to embed the photochromic dye into the lens, and a scratch-resistant coating is then applied to the surface. Not all lens materials imbibe efficiently, so instead they will sometimes use Trans-bonding™. Instead of applying the dye inside the lens, it is applied to the surface of the lens. Both methods provide the same tint color regardless of different lens thickness, 

Because of their innovative technology, their lenses are one of the most popular photochromic lens choices. The molecules inside Transition™ lenses will allow a safe amount of light to reach your eyes whether you are in the sunlight, under the clouds, or indoors. They are also compatible with other lens treatments like Anti-Reflective (AR) Coating, to block glare. Transitions™ can also be made in either single vision, bifocal, progressive, or even in high-index lenses, and will fit nearly any frame.

Transition™ has created several options over the years, but the four best known are Signature GEN 8, XTRActive, Vantage, and DriveWear. It is good to know that not all lens types have polarization capabilities, and only some are recommended to wear while operating a vehicle. Every type also varies in color changes as some are darker than the others. When discussing which one is best, it’s good to remember that there isn’t one that is inherently better, but rather that the four separate options are best for specific activities and environments. With that being said, we want to discuss what makes each type great and what they are best used for. 

Signature GEN 8

Transition™ Signature lenses meet the needs of most average eyeglass users. When indoors, the glasses are as clear as standard glasses, and when outside, they become fairly dark. The lenses become darker on a sunny day compared to a cloudy day but won’t darken like how XTRActive lenses can. What is great about Signature is that it changes back from clear to dark, or vice versa, more quickly than most Transition™ lenses. 

GEN 8 also doesn’t have polarization capabilities, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t protect your eye at all from harmful light. This lens blocks 100% of UV rays, as well as different levels of blue light. When indoors, it can block at least 20% of blue light, and 87% in the sun. In general, this lens isn’t recommended for operating a vehicle because they do not tint while driving.

Other than driving, the Signature lens is great for everyday wear for adults and children. It might not be the best option for outdoor activities and sports because it does not react the same in hot climates as other Transitions™ can. You can still wear these as your main pair of eyeglasses, and in place of a pair of sunglasses. If the Signature GEN 8 is for you, it is available in gray, brown, graphite green, sapphire, amethyst, emerald, and amber.


The XTRActive is becoming a popular option for photochromic glasses wearers. Unlike the Signature, it is best used for outdoor activities and sports, because the XTRActive is the darkest lens Transition™ has to offer. As other Transition™ lenses tend to darken in cold weather, the XTRActive does the opposite and becomes the darkest in high temperatures. Because of how dark this lens can get, it provides great protection against ultraviolet rays, glare, and blue light even without polarization. 

XTRActive color changing process is quicker compared to Signature GEN 8. It is quick because it is not only activated by UV light, but also by available visible light. This is why this lens type can change tints behind the wheel.

If you are considering XTRActive lenses, there are a variety of color options to choose from. They of course come in three iconic colors (gray, brown, graphite green), but you also have the option of mirrored colors (gold, silver shadow, pink, red, green, and blue). This is the only lens type Transition™ offers that has the mirror color lens options. When darkened, the lens will have a sport, mirrored finish where no one can see your eyes. When the lens is clear, there is a very slight tint of the chosen color to the lens. 


Transition™ Vantage lenses are great for outdoor activities. While they may not get as dark as XTRActive lenses, when they do change colors, they go from almost clear indoors, to a medium tint outdoors like most Transitions™. The main difference between Vantage, Signature, and XTRActive lenses is that Vantage will polarize when the lenses darken. The purpose of Vantage is to cut through the most glare possible, making this a great option for fishing, diving, jet skiing, sailing, and most water sports/activities. 

The Vantage is one of two Transition™ lenses that have polarization capabilities, because of how complicated polarization can be in photochromic lenses. Traditional Polarization is mainly used in sunglasses and is a static film applied to the surfaces of the lenses, which is unable to adapt to changing light if applied to a photochromic lens. With Vantage, a process known as Trans-Polarizing™ is used. This makes the molecules, not only darken under visible and invisible light, but also align at a proper angle so they become polarized, preventing more glare reduction than most Transition™ lenses can.

Vantage is great at protecting your eyes from the sun, but it still won’t activate behind the wheel as it relies on UV rays to activate. The windshield blocks out the necessary amount of invisible light the Vantage needs in order to change colors. 


DriveWear lenses are best for, well, driving but can also be used for most outdoor activities. The reason why some Transition™ lenses don’t work well inside a car is that most car windshields block UV rays, something photochromic lenses need in order to change tints easily. DriveWear is different because it has NuPolar polarization, making this lens adapt well against visible and invisible light inside a car as well as outside.

Because of NuPolar technology, the lenses are polarized all day and in all conditions. Even if the lenses are not extremely dark, your lenses will still be polarized. It is also good at highlighting red and greens making DriveWear the best choice for driving. 

These Transitions™ should not be worn at night. DriveWear lenses will retain their green/yellow tint when indoors and may obscure your vision if worn at night. During the day, it is perfectly fine to wear, especially outdoors as the color changes to a dark reddish-brown color. This was designed to provide increased protection from bright light and for excellent green color, the most common color in a natural landscape. DriveWear is great for outdoor use, and if you drive frequently, or for a living, this Transition™ lens is the best to have. 

The Best Transition™ for You

When deciding on your Transition™, it is good to know that all Transition™ lenses are durable and long lasting. Some can retain the same color changing properties at the time it was manufactured for as long as three years. Before choosing your lens, you’ll want to look at multiple lens options and coatings before you make your final decision. With the options we have, there is one that is best for you. 

Here at Rx-Safety, every Transition™ can either be made in polycarbonate or Trivex material. Trivex is a rival to polycarbonate as the safest lenses on the market. They are lightweight, comfortable for all-day wear, and have great eye protection. Both materials provide superior eye protection and sharp vision and won’t differ in color changing properties. As we talked about before, some Transitions™ can have an AR coating applied to it or a coating with a blue blocker for extra blue light reduction.

One of the top rules in eyewear is eye safety, and if you were wondering if Transition™, or photochromic lenses in general, are as safe as standard glasses and sunglasses, we assure you that they are. Every type of Transition™ lens blocks 100% UV light and a large amount of blue light in both clear and dark tints. Having Transition™ is having the best of two worlds, it is having eyeglasses and sunglasses in one pair. If you already own a pair of glasses or sunglasses but want Transition™, be sure to check out our website for lens replacement services.

  1. Barb says:

    Just got new glasses with polycarbonate,#160 something, progressive and transitions. The glasses hardly get dark directly looking at the sun. Went back to eyeglass store and they gave me some excuse that it takes time for glasses to adjust. She also took out an ultraviolet light and put the glasses directly under them. In that case the glasses got very dark. I have worn transitions for many years and they instantly get dark as soon as I walk outside. Do I have any recourse

    • Mirna Romero says:

      Barb, we offer lenses with Transition Xtractive which is the darkest transition. Please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or you can give us a call at 888-245-6638. There is also a chat option on our website where you can talk directly to our customer service reps. It would be a pleasure to help you!

  2. Barb says:

    Just got new glasses with polycarbonate,#160 something, progressive and transitions. The glasses hardly get dark directly looking at the sun. Went back to eyeglass store and they gave me some excuse that it takes time for glasses to adjust. She also took out an ultraviolet light and put the glasses directly under them. In that case the glasses got very dark. I have worn transitions for many years and they instantly get dark as soon as I walk outside. Even when it’s not sunny my old glasses turn a bit. Should the optician offer to correct the transition aspect of my new glasses.

    • Mirna Romero says:

      Hi Barb, you should definitely ask them what transitions options they have for your glasses and what are their differences. Our darkest transition is Xtractive.

  3. Andy Dobson says:

    In respect of transisition lines what is the cat range? Topically they would be cat 1 to cat3 or cat2 to cat 4 (very dark for high mountains and not for driving) or some are more limited cat 2 to cat 3 or cat 1 to cat2. I realise transisition change over a range but what range, thanks

    • Mirna Romero says:

      Hi Andy,
      We are not sure if there is a CAT ranging for a color. Most people use a %, being 20% VLT the lower for a sunglass color.

  4. grant mcdonald says:

    hi I have new transition lens prescription glasses. In sunlight they go so dark I cannot see images in dark or shaded areas such as under trees or walking on pavements under verandahs. Is this to do with ultra violet strength. I live in the Hawkes Bay area of New Zealand which has the highest level of ultra violet in the world. My glasses go really dark–too dark I feel as they can be dangerous especially crossing streets and driving in certain conditions-Can you offer advice.

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