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What is the Purpose of Transition Sunglasses?


Have you ever heard of transition sunglasses? Transition sunglasses can be a great option for your vision care if you want to eliminate the need to switch from regular glasses to sunglasses while doing outdoor activities. 

Learn more about the pros and cons of wearing transitional lenses from Nationwide Optometry doctors.

What are Transition Sunglasses?

Transition sunglasses are also called photochromic sunglasses. They automatically change from clear lenses in a darker or inside environment to dark lenses outside in the sun. The lenses can darken and lighten because they have special dyes that chemically change when they’re exposed to sunlight and the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.


In their early days, photochromic lenses would darken only to gray. Today you can choose from a variety of darkening colors, allowing you to personalize your glasses even more.

You may hear others use the term “transition sunglasses,” but this actually refers to a specific brand of photochromic glasses. There are many other brands of photochromic sunglasses available today. 

Pros of Photochromic Sunglasses

Aside from eliminating the need to switch specs, photochromic sunglasses have many other advantages. Here are just a few:

  • They protect your eyes from UV rays and limit your UV exposure, which increases your risk for cataracts

  • You can select specific vision corrections when ordering them for your vision needs

  • They can be used while playing sports

  • They serve as a great option for children with correction needs since they don’t have to juggle multiple pairs of glasses

  • You are less likely to lose your glasses because you only have one pair

  • You can Save money by ordering just one pair of glasses instead of two

Photochromic sunglasses are made from materials such as polycarbonate and Trivex, which are lighter in weight and more resistant to scratches compared to other materials.

These sunglasses/glasses hybrid lenses can be made into nearsighted, farsighted, or bifocal prescription lenses. 

Cons of Photochromic Sunglasses

Knowing the cons of photochromic sunglasses can help you decide if these lenses are for you. Consider some of the downsides of these sunglasses:

  • They don’t always darken right away; some glasses may take up to five minutes to darken.

  • The degree to which these sunglasses will darken often depends on the brand. Ask your eye doctor which brand may work best depending on your personal needs and preferences for darkening.

  • Not all types darken well inside a car because the windshield usually has some protection against UV rays. However, some brands of lenses can darken in cars.

  • They can take longer to darken in cold weather.

  • These lenses may darken in environments where you want them to remain clear, such as in an office with bright lighting.

What to Know if You Have a New Pair

If you’ve made the decision to try this special type of sunglasses, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind to get the most out of them:

  • Ask your eye doctor about the best way to clean them. You don’t want to use any solutions or materials that may cause scratches.

  • To help get used to your transition lenses, avoid switching between your old glasses and your new ones, even if your old glasses are more comfortable. If needed, you can use your new glasses an hour or two a day and then gradually build up the amount of time you use them. Talk to your eye doctor if you still have problems adjusting to your transition sunglasses.

  • Find out how long your sunglasses should darken properly, as many manufacturers state the transition feature will work for two years.

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Schedule an Eye Exam Today to Learn More About Transition Lenses

Think you’re ready for the switch to photochromic lenses? Schedule a comprehensive eye exam today to see if they’re right for you. Together, you and a skilled Nationwide Optometry doctor will check your prescription and evaluate the overall health of your eyes.

Find a Nationwide Vision eye clinic near you to schedule your comprehensive eye exam.