Are you searching for a cool way to protect your peepers? Transition lenses could be what you’re looking for!

Transition Lenses are an alternative to sunglasses for those who wear regular glasses already. They darken when hit by sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) rays. When you’re indoors or when it’s dark, they stay clear. Transition Lenses are a type of photochromic lens, variable tint lenses, or light-adaptive lenses.

Let’s break down their pros and cons to help you protect your eyes.

Silver halide is incorporated into Corning’s glass photochromic lenses. Meanwhile, Transition Lenses are constructed from plastic and employ indenonaphthopyrans as the photochromic dye.

Stronger light equals darker glasses. This protects your eyes from overexposure to sunlight in the same way as regular sunglasses.

There are a lot of solid points to recommend making the transitional move to Transition Lenses. We’ve rounded up the biggies:

  • Transition Lenses proactively block out the sun’s harmful UV rays.
  • Blue light is thought to strain the eyes. While the research is still out, Transition Lenses might reduce eye fatigue.
  • Buying one pair of Transition Lenses can be cheaper than buying one set of regular glasses and one set of sunglasses.
  • Carrying one set of glasses is roughly twice as convenient as carrying two sets, and you’re less likely to misplace your only set.

If Transition Lenses were flawless, everyone would be using them. There are, however, trade-offs to think about if you want to switch to this kind of eyewear:

  • Transition Lenses don’t adjust instantly. They take about 30 seconds to darken and 2–5 minutes to return to a clear state
  • Car windshields can interfere with some Transition Lenses, as they’re also designed to block UV rays
  • You have no control over when the lenses darken. You’re out of luck if you want them to stay clear in a brightly lit place like an office.
  • Temperature affects Transition Lenses. They can take longer to adjust to the cold.
  • The individual price of Transition Lenses is typically higher than normal lenses.
  • Transition Lenses are only available in a limited number of colors.

If you’re smart, you’ll think carefully about protecting your eyesight. For that reason, we’ve answered your most (sun) burning questions right here.

What’s the difference between transition and progressive lenses?

Unlike Transition Lenses, progressive lenses combine multiple prescriptions into one pair of glasses. You look through one area of the lens for near sight, another for mid-distance sight, and a third for longer-distance.

Progressive lenses are commonly worn by folks over 40 to help with blurry vision up close. You might see them called progressive addition lenses (PAL) or graduated prescription lenses.

How much do transition lenses usually cost?

A bit of market research will show you that Transition Lenses typically hover around the $60–80 mark, adding to the base lens cost. This is more expensive than grabbing a pair of sunglasses at the mall. However, it’s potentially cheaper than buying both sunglasses and regular lenses.

Can transition lenses be used as sunglasses?

Yes. Transition Lenses are meant to replace sunglasses by darkening on contact with sunlight or UV rays. But this doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. Switching into sunglasses mode takes about 30 seconds and 2–5 minutes to return to the clear state.

Do Transition Lenses protect against UV rays?

Yes. Some of the molecules in Transition Lenses work by darkening to absorb UV light when it hits the lens. They also protect your eyes from blue light and the sun’s harmful rays.

Just remember, they’re not a cure-all!

Do transition lenses work in the car?

Not always. Your car windshield is most likely treated to block virtually all UV rays via a triple-layer plastic and glass construction which blocks 96 percent of UV rays, on average. This means that your Transition Lenses might not kick in when you’re driving since there’s not enough UV getting through the windshield to activate them.

Transition Lenses can be a great way to protect your eyes without having to reach for multiple sets of glasses. But think about whether your lifestyle is the best potential match for using them. If you do a lot of driving, or your job means going indoors and outdoors a lot, there might be better options for you.