Transition Lenses: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

Choosing transition lenses is more than just a style choice, and there’s so much more to consider before you make the switch—especially if you haven’t worn these types of lenses before! But it’s clear to see why people are drawn to them: Transition lenses are an option worth exploring if you appreciate function just as much as design. 

They are convenient, versatile, and they look cool, but are they right for you?

Before you make a decision on whether to purchase transition lenses or not, there are some important factors to consider. In this blog, we’ll delve into what you need to know before you buy these innovative lenses.

Would you rather jump into exploring your options? Browse the brands we offer online

Love an in-store experience? We’d love to see you in our Kamloops eye clinic to try on transition lenses in person. 

A man and woman stand outside a Kamloops eye care clinic to test out transition lenses

What are Transition Lenses?

Transition lenses, also known as photochromic lenses, are lenses that can adapt to changing light conditions. This means they can provide clear vision indoors and automatically darken when exposed to sunlight. 

It looks like magic, but really it all comes down to materials. They’re made from a specific type of optical glass or plastic that contains special molecules or compounds. These molecules undergo a chemical reaction under UV light, which makes them appear lighter (or more transparent) in darker conditions and dark (or more like sunglasses) in brighter conditions. 

This dynamic adjustment helps reduce eye strain and eliminates the need for multiple pairs of glasses under changing conditions.

How Do Transition Lenses Work?

The exact composition and manufacturing process of transition lenses can vary between brands and models, but the fundamental principle remains the same: the photochromic compounds within the lens respond to UV light to provide the transition between clear and dark states, offering protection against sunlight while allowing clear vision indoors.

This innovative technology was developed in the 1960s, and it’s only gotten more advanced over time. Thanks to their versatility, these lenses are more in-demand now than ever before.

Transition lenses versus sunglasses

Transitions aren’t intended to be a replacement for sunglasses, but an alternative for clear lenses. Though they do act as sunglasses once activated with their light intelligent design, sunglasses are still a great option for certain conditions. 

That considered, most transition lenses will get nearly as dark as traditional sunglasses. Under certain circumstances, like driving for instance, you may prefer sunglasses to avoid distracting glares. For most people, even those who regularly move indoors and outdoors throughout the day, find that transition lenses offer a great two-in-one experience and don’t need to opt for sunglasses often unless it’s on the basis of a style choice. 

A woman smiles standing outside as her transition lenses adjust to the outdoor lighting

What to Consider Before You Buy Transition Lenses

Still on the fence on making the shift or not? Here are some factors to consider before you make the switch to transitions.

Transition Speed

The speed at which transition lenses change from clear to dark and vice versa can vary. Some lenses may take a few seconds, while others might take a minute or longer. Consider your preference for transition speed and discuss it with your optometrist when choosing your lenses.

All transitions will start to adjust back to their clear state soon after they’re removed from UV light. Depending on which transitions you choose, this will indicate how long it will take for them to revert to clear. 

The brand Transitions offers three options for you to enjoy! Generation 8 transitions take just a few minutes to fully transition from activated back to clear. While they do this you can rock the beautiful mid-tints, especially with the style colours. Xtractive transitions will do take a bit longer, this is because they are not only activated by UV light but also with bright artificial light. 

These are great options for those who are photosensitive or looking for something to offer some brightness protection while driving. Xtractive transitions are also available in polarized grey! The polarized option is a wonderfully versatile lense to pick for someone with bright commutes or an active lifestyle. 

Compatibility with Your Prescription

Your prescription won’t necessarily dictate whether or not transitions suit you as an option. That said, certain eye health conditions may influence your candidacy for transition options. A particular colour or activation style is not one size fits all, so consulting with your optician or eyeglass dispenser will help shed some light on what would be your best solution. 

Cost Considerations

Transition lenses are a convenient solution for those who frequently switch between indoor and outdoor environments. Though this additional treatment to your glasses may cost more, you can’t put a price on protecting the only two eyes you have!

Style and Frame Selection

Transition lenses are available in various designs and can be fitted into most frame types, which means you don’t have to sacrifice style for function. That said, some frame materials and shapes may limit your choices. At Nicola Eye Care, we’re happy to assist you in finding frames that suit your style while also accommodating transition lenses. Transitions come in eight beautiful colours to choose from, and styling your lens to match your frames and style is our favorite thing to do!

Adjusting to Transition Lenses

Some people find that there’s an adjustment period once you start using transition lenses, so don’t be surprised if it takes a little time for you to get used to them. The actual transition from clear to dark (and vice versa) may be strikingly noticeable initially, but most individuals adapt quickly and barely notice the shift as time goes on.

a man and woman stand facing one another outside a Kamloops eye clinic to test their transition lenses outdoors

Make the Move to Transition Lenses

When weighing the pros and cons, it’s easy to see why so many people choose to go with this style of lens. They’re a fantastic innovation in eyewear technology, offering convenience and protection for your eyes in changing light conditions. Transition lenses can be a worthwhile investment for those who lead active and varied lifestyles, providing the benefits of both prescription glasses and sunglasses in one package. 

Before purchasing them, consider factors like the type of transition lenses, transition speed, compatibility with your lifestyle, cost, and your personal style. To ensure you make the right choice, consult with your eye care professional who can help you find the perfect transition lenses to meet your needs (and your desired look).

Have questions for the Nicola Eye Care team? Contact us today—we’re here for you!

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