Lenses that darken in the sunlight are called photochromic lenses. According to Wikipedia: “A photochromic lens is an optical lens that darkens on exposure to light of sufficient high frequency, most common ultraviolet radiation. In the absence of activating light, the lenses return to their clear state. Photochromic lenses may be made of glass, polycarbonate, or another Plastic.”
Photochromic Lenses give the wearer an all-in-one prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses solution. These special lenses manufactured with a special mix of chemicals that react with each other when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays. The ultraviolet rays cause the lenses to darken into sunglasses when outside and exposed to sunshine (aka ultraviolet rays). When the UV light is removed the lenses return to regular indoor eyeglasses Photochromic lenses do not respond to visible light - only to UV light. So, if you are outdoors or in your car and not exposed to UV light, they will not darken. Most photochromic lenses also contain anti-glare tints which help keep the eyes comfortable.
Photochromic lenses have been around for at least 20 years. These lenses offer the convenience of sunglasses without having to wear them over your prescription glasses or having to constantly switch between the two. But is it really as effective as it sounds? Is it worth the price?
Some of the benefits of photochromic lenses are obvious, some are not.. Here are some of the biggest pros to photochromic lenses:
- Reduced Cost – Even though Photochromic lenses cost more than non-photochromic lenses can actually be quite cost effective. With photochromic lenses, you end up not having to buy two pairs of glasses: prescription sunglasses and normal glasses. You get the best of both, rolled into one simple solution.
- Convenient – Photochromic lenses are very convenient because they save you from having to carry around two pairs of glasses and having to switch between them to meet different needs.
- Limits risk of losing glasses – Carrying around two pairs of glasses means that you’re much more likely to lose or misplace one of them. Having only one pair makes it easier on you because you generally lose a pair of glasses when you are not wearing them. You wear photochromic lenses all the time during your waking hours.
- Eye Health – Transitional lenses do more than function as sunglasses. They actually filter out a good deal of the harmful UV rays emitted from the sun, leading to healthier and happier eyes.
- Different styles – Transitional lenses come in a myriad of styles, shades, and tints that should be suitable for anyone’s taste and fashion. To complement the three existing iconic lens colors – gray, brown and graphite green – Photochromic style colors will be available in the following four options: Sapphire – a bright, exciting hue that brings a cool factor. Amethyst – a sophisticated shade with a contemporary twist. If you are looking for better contrast to increase visual acuity for things like golfing and fishing, then photochromic brown is the color for you. If you are looking for the absolute darkest transition lens possible, you should veer towards photochromic gray.
So do the negatives outweigh the positive?
- Ineffective in cars – Traditional photochromic lenses darken in reaction to UV rays, which your windshield blocks. Because of this, most photochromic lenses won’t darken very well in the car. However there is a brand that will work in a car. Special Drivewear lenses work in a car but are different colors that regular photochromic lenses. They are in low light conditions a green/yellow color and change to a darker red/brown color in bright light.
- Affected by cold weather – Photochromic lenses are also affected by colder weather, meaning they take a bit longer to react to UV rays in winter or not get quite as dark based on how low the temperatures are.
- More expensive then clear lenses.
Should Kids Wear Photochromic Lenses?
We know that UV light damages our skin. We see advertisements on tv about suntan lotion all the time. Did you know that UV light also damages your eyes and causes cataracts later in life and that most of the damage occurs before the age of 18? Sunglasses with UV blocker that you wear on a sunny day at the beach will certainly protect your eyes but if your child wears corrective lenses then you are back with two pair of glasses and another pair to lose. Photochromic lenses checks a lot of boxes as the lens of choice for your children:
- Any prescription can be ground into a photochromic lens.
- Photochromic lenses will block all UV light. Even the UV light your child sees on overcast days. Yes, overcast days show enough UV light to damage your child’s eyes over time.
- Polycarbonate lenses can be photochromic.
- Photochromic lenses also block Blu light. So when your child is on the computer or watching tv, your child’s eyes will be less tired which makes studying more effective.
- Kids think lenses that change color or “cool” and are more likely to wear them more often and less likely to lose them.
- One pair of glasses are less expensive than two pairs of glasses.
So the answer is yes! Kids should wear photochromic lenses. Kids like them better so less likely to lose them and they protect your child’s eyes from any level of harmful radiation.
Photochromic Lenses with Polarizations, a Unique Solution to UV Light, Blue Light and Glare
When you realize that you need photochromic lenses, you might think "how do I stop all the glare I see outdoors when I’m driving" or "when I’m near the water while fishing or on a boat I am seeing alot of glare." The glare you experience when you drive at night or from your windshield in the day is quite dangerous. Do you know glare can stop you from seeing if a traffic light changes or another car when you enter a four way traffic light?
Are Photochromic Lenses Popular With All Age Groups?
Photochromic lenses—eyewear that darkens when exposed to daylight and lightens when indoors—are very popular with millennials. “Why. Chances are it’s because Photochromic Lenses represent the trifecta of convenience, value, and cool technology—all the sorts of things that appeal to the sensibilities to today’s 20-somethings.
Anybody can wear a photochromic lens, as they come in all prescriptions, all lens materials and all types of lenses. Today about 20% of the glasses sold in the USA have photochromic lenses in them.
Until just a few years ago, even suggesting that Millennials would have an affinity for photochromic lenses would have been ridiculed. Photochromic lenses were something your parents or grandparents wore. Well, that’s all gone by the wayside. Styles, fashions, and what’s-in can change in the blink of an eye.
Photochromic glasses are like getting two pairs of glasses in one. As such, they’re convenient, and they also represent value. You don’t need two pairs of prescription glasses. One will do.
They’re also pretty cool. Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and tints—the lenses are thinner, stylish, and great looking . . . and they transform magically from indoors to outdoors and back again.
But photochromic lenses are not just for 20 somethings. Many 40-, 50- and even 60- somethings have been fashionable all along
Here are 10 things wearers like about photochromic lenses:
- One pair of glasses does me for the whole day. I don’t have to plan ahead or figure how I’m going to carry my set of shades because my eyeglasses and sunglasses are one and the same.
- You can’t beat the cost, I only need one pair of prescription glasses, not a pair of clear lenses and a pair of sunglasses. Two for the price of one.
- Today’s photochromic lenses change a lot faster than they use to. Older versions took too long to clear up inside. However the newer versions literally change in seconds.
- There are dozens of options available now—to choose from, between lenses, frames, tints, and more. Photochromic lenses are no longer limited to just a handful of choices. If you’re searching for a particular look or style, chances are you’ll find it . . . and then some.
- I’m never without my sunglasses. Since I need my prescription lenses to see, and because my prescription lenses and sunglasses are the same pair of glasses, I am never without PROTECTION for my eyes. My transition lenses block 100% of UVA & UVB light, and I can always count on that because I won’t ever forget to bring them.
- I never replace my sunglasses because they’re always on my face! This simple fact can’t be overstated. In the past, how much time did I waste wondering, “Now, where did I put my sunglasses?” and then how much time did I waste looking for them?
- My transition lenses can help me sleep better. Photochromic lenses can limit exposure to blue light which has been linked to harmful effects on our eyes and our sleep cycles from the computers, smartphones and tablets that we use at night.
- Photochromic lenses help reduce eye strain. If you are never without your glasses and sunglasses then your lenses are always blocking out harmful effects from computer screens.
- If you’re in bright sunlight or find that sometimes its overcast out, your photochromic lenses will darken based on how bright the sun is. They adjust to just the right shade to block the sun and glare, but not too much so you can see clearly.
- Photochromic lenses truly make the whole idea of wearing glasses less complex. There is only one pair to wear and to keep track of. You don’t have to buy a sunglass second pair of glasses or pair of sunglasses that fit over your clear glasses.
Photochromic Lenses represent the trifecta of convenience, value, and cool technology. They are the perfect lenses for your family including you children.