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For the less visually gifted among us, the sun can be a huge problem in conjunction with our existing glasses. You either have to pay for a second pair of glasses with tinted lenses and carry them around, or you have to have some sort of cover for your glasses. Whether it is an entirely separate pair or an add-on for your regular frames, the struggle is real. At some point, someone got tired of this and the photochromic (transition) lens came to be. This lens will darken under the rays of the sun and return to normal when you go back inside.

While the photochromic lens has been around for some time, the options for these have grown. Now there are materials other than glass and colors for lenses other than grey. The most common brand is “Transitions”, but they are not the only game in town these days. PhotoFusion, Thin & Dark, and Sensity have lenses on the market.

The method in which photochromic lenses darken has evolved as well. Old school models used silver halide or silver chloride to darken in reaction to UV light. These days, makers are using proprietary dyes and the reactions are chemical changes. The one thing that remains the same is that UV light is required to make them darker.

“Transition Lenses” and You

As convenient as they are, there are pros and cons to getting them.


  • The aforementioned convenience of having one pair of glasses and no extra gear.
  • You won’t leave your sunglasses at home, meaning your eyes will constantly be protected from UV rays.
  • You won’t put them down and forget about them because you are wearing them for everything.
  • Whatever your prescription needs, it can typically be put into a photochromic lens. The styles and colors are vast.
  • They save money when you aren’t paying for a second pair to be used as sunglasses.
  • They can save you money. You may not need to buy prescription eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses as well.


  • Not all transition lenses are created equal. Some get darker than others. Some get dark faster than others and take longer to return to normal. Discuss your needs with your optician.
  • The weather can slow the transition.
  • They aren’t as useful in a car. The glass on automobiles already protects you from some UV rays. This prevents most lenses from transitioning. There are newer transitions designed in an effort to address this issue.

Consider your lifestyle and whether or not they are worth the investment. When you think about what you aren’t spending on sunglasses or losing one or the other, it may seem less expensive. If you don’t go in and outside often, you may find that you don’t have a need for them. Just know that there are options.

Dr. Joseph Cohen O.D.
Woodland Hills Optometrist
Receive an Excellent Service and Comprehensive Eye Care
(818) 345-3937
Providing service in English and Farsi
19737 Ventura Blvd., Suite 201, Woodland Hills, CA 91364