Have you ever stepped outside on a bright sunny day and been blinded by the intense light? Or gone inside after being outside and had trouble seeing right away? Photochromic glasses are the solution to that problem. They automatically darken when exposed to UV light and then lighten back up once indoors or in dimmer conditions. No more having to switch between regular glasses and sunglasses or deal with the hassle of contacts.
In this article, you’ll learn everything about Photochromic glasses. How do they work? What are the different types? And more! Read on to find out why photochromic glasses might just become your new favorite accessory.
Everything You Need to Know About Photochromic Glasses
So, What are Photochromic Lenses? Photochromic lenses are special eyeglass lenses that darken when exposed to UV light. Basically, they’re glasses that can transition from clear to dark all on their own. Corning Glass Works Inc. created the first photochromic lenses in 1966.
With regular use, most people find that photochromic lenses become an indispensable part of their everyday glasses. If you spend a lot of time outdoors or in variable lighting conditions, they can be a worthwhile investment for comfortable, convenient vision.
Who Should Use Photochromic Lenses?
So who exactly benefits from photochromic lenses? The short answer is pretty much anyone who spends a good amount of time outdoors or frequently transitions between indoor and outdoor environments.
People with light sensitivity can really appreciate photochromic lenses. If bright light gives you headaches or makes your eyes feel strained, transition lenses help reduce glare and make being outside much more comfortable.
For the active and sporty types, photochromic lenses are very useful. When you go for a run, bike ride, or play tennis, the last thing you want to worry about is switching between regular glasses and sunglasses. Transition lenses have you covered in any light condition so you can concentrate on your activity.
Kids and teens who spend a lot of time outside can benefit from photochromic lenses. Their eyes are still developing, so protecting them from UV radiation and glare is important. Transition lenses make it easy for kids and teens to get the protection they need without having to switch between multiple pairs of glasses.
As you can see, photochromic lenses suit a wide range of people and lifestyles. Pretty much, anyone who wants maximum convenience, comfort and protection for their eyes indoors and out can benefit from Photochromic lenses.
How Do Photochromic Lenses Work?
Photochromic lenses react to UV light by using special light-sensitive dyes or molecules in the lens that change shape when exposed to UV radiation. The dyes are transparent indoors, but when you head outside, they react to the UV light and change shape, darkening the lens.
How Do Glass Photochromic Lenses Work?
Glass photochromic lenses contain silver halide crystals that change shape when exposed to UV light. When UV light hits the lenses, the silver halide crystals change into microscopic silver particles that darken the lens, reducing the amount of light passing through. The higher the UV exposure, the darker the lenses become. When you go back inside, the silver particles fade back into the silver halide crystals, lightening the lens.
How Do Plastic Photochromic Lenses Work?
Plastic photochromic lenses contain organic photochromic dyes or molecules that change shape when exposed to UV light. The dyes start out stretched out, so they absorb little visible light, keeping the lens clear. But when UV light hits the lens, it causes a chemical reaction that makes the dyes bend and twist, absorbing more visible light and darkening the lens. The higher the UV levels, the more the dyes bend and twist, making the lens progressively darker. When UV exposure stops, the dyes straighten back out, lightening the lens.
In summary, The higher the UV levels, the darker the lenses get. When UV light is removed, the lenses gradually return to their clear state.
The Different Types of Photochromic Lenses
There are a few types of photochromic lenses to choose from:
- Transitions Gen 8 lenses
- LifeRx Photochromic Lenses
- Sensity Photochromic Lenses
- Transitions XTRActive
- Transitions Vantage
- SunSensors Lenses
- ZEISS PhotoFusion Lenses
- ColorMatic IQ Sun 2
- PhotoView (Signet Armorlite)
- PhotoBrown and PhotoGrey Lenses
In summary, you have options when it comes to photochromic lenses. Consider how quickly you need the lenses to activate and fade if glare reduction is a priority and your budget. Talk to your optician to determine what type of photochromic lenses are right for your needs and activities. The right lenses can make a big difference in comfort and clarity.
The Benefits of Using Photochromic Glasses
Photochromic glasses offer many benefits over regular sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses. Here are seven main benefits of using photochromic lenses:
Photochromic lenses conveniently darken in the sun and lighten in low light or shade. No need to carry around two pairs of glasses or constantly switch between the two. Their adaptive nature makes them very convenient for driving, walking or any activity where you’re going in and out of sunlight.
Photochromic lenses effectively block 100% of UV radiation and blue light, which can damage your eyes. By darkening in sunlight, they protect your eyes from harsh bright light that can cause eyestrain and long-term damage.
You can use photochromic lenses for both sunglasses and regular eyeglasses. Their ability to transition between clear and dark means you have eyewear suitable for all light conditions.
Photochromic lenses are more affordable than buying separate pairs of prescription glasses and sunglasses. They reduce the need for multiple pairs of eyewear, saving you money in the long run.
Because photochromic lenses automatically darken, they help reduce glare and improve visibility, increasing eye safety in bright, sunny conditions. They make it easier and safer to see details like uneven pavement or obstacles in your path.
Modern photochromic lenses come in stylish, lightweight frames for both eyeglasses and sunglasses. They are available in a range of lens materials, colors and lens treatments to suit different fashion tastes.
High-quality photochromic lenses made of polycarbonate materials are impact-resistant and durable. They can handle the rigors of daily use and active lifestyles without scratching or breaking easily. Some brands offer warranties of up to two years on their photochromic lenses.
Disadvantages of Photochromic Lenses
One downside of photochromic lenses is that they typically don’t darken in vehicles. The UV protection in windshields blocks the UV rays that activate the lenses to darken. This can leave your eyes unprotected from glare while driving.
Another disadvantage is that photochromic lenses may not transition fully in cold temperatures. The chemical reaction that causes the lenses to darken works best in warm conditions. In very cold weather, the lenses may stay in a “mid-transition” state and not reach their darkest tint.
Photochromic lenses can be more expensive than regular lenses. The special photochromic material and technology used to create lenses that can adapt to different light conditions cost more to produce, so these glasses often come with a higher price tag. The additional cost may be worth it for the convenience, but not for everyone’s budget.
Finally, some people find that photochromic lenses don’t darken quickly enough for their needs. While most photochromic lenses will transition from light to dark in a matter of seconds, some wearers feel like they need lenses that darken nearly instantaneously in bright sunlight.
In summary, the main disadvantages of photochromic lenses are:
•They typically don’t darken in vehicles.
•They may not transition fully in cold temperatures.
•They tend to cost more than regular lenses.
•Some people find they don’t darken quickly enough.
For many wearers, though, the benefits of photochromic lenses outweigh these potential downsides. When used in the right conditions, they can be an incredibly convenient eyewear option.
FAQ: Common Questions About Photochromic Glasses
Here are some of the most asked questions about photochromic glasses:
Do photochromic lenses expire?
This is a common question for those new to photochromic glasses. The short answer is yes; photochromic lenses will eventually lose their ability to darken over time. But don’t worry with normal use; a pair of photochromic lenses should last 2-3 years before needing replacement.
How quickly do photochromic lenses work?
Photochromic lenses darken in response to UV exposure, so the speed at which they change depends on the intensity of UV light. In direct sunlight, the lenses can darken in 15 seconds to a minute. In overcast or low light, the transition will be slower. The lenses also fade back to clear as UV levels decrease.
What are the other Names for Photochromic Lenses
Photochromic lenses are also commonly referred to by several other names. These alternative names are often used interchangeably to describe this type of eyewear technology.
One common alternative name for photochromic lenses is “transition lenses.” This name comes from the fact that these lenses transition from clear to tinted when exposed to UV light.
Another term you may come across is “light-adaptive lenses.” This name highlights the lenses’ ability to adapt to different levels of light intensity.
You may also hear the term “variable tint lenses” used to describe photochromic lenses. This name emphasizes the lenses’ ability to vary their tint or darkness level based on the surrounding light environment.
In summary, photochromic lenses, transition lenses, light-adaptive lenses, and variable tint lenses all refer to the same type of eyewear technology.
How much do Photochromic glasses cost in Nigeria?
The cost of photochromic glasses can vary depending on various factors, including the brand, lens quality, frame design, and additional features.
In general, photochromic glasses tend to be slightly more expensive than regular lenses due to the specialized materials and technology involved in their manufacturing. This higher price tag is a reflection of the added convenience and functionality they offer.
On average, photochromic glasses in Nigeria can range from ₦5,000 to ₦40,000 or more. However, it’s important to note that these prices are just estimates and may vary depending on where you purchase them, the specific brand, and any additional features or customization options you choose.
What affects the performance of photochromic lenses?
Several factors impact how well your photochromic lenses function:
• Temperature – Photochromic lenses darken faster in warm weather and are most effective in temperatures of 55-82°F or 13-28°C. Colder weather can slow the transition.
• UV exposure – The more UV radiation the lenses are exposed to, the darker they will become. Less UV means a lighter tint.
• Age of the lenses – As the lenses get older, they take longer to transition and may not achieve as dark of a tint. After 2-3 years, it’s best to replace your photochromic lenses.
• Quality and brand – Higher quality photochromic lenses, especially those from reputable brands, tend to have better performance and last longer. Cheaper lenses may transition unevenly and wear out more quickly.
• Material – Polycarbonate and Trivex photochromic lenses tend to have better performance than regular plastic CR-39 lenses. Polycarbonate, in particular, provides 100% UV protection.
• AR coating – An anti-reflective coating helps reduce reflections and allows more light to pass through the lens, enhancing the performance of the photochromic technology.
With some care and maintenance, you can enjoy the convenience of photochromic lenses for several years before needing a replacement. Just keep the factors that affect their performance in mind, and your photochromic glasses should serve you well.
You’ve now gotten all the details on photochromic glasses and how they can enhance your life. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or just someone who wants stylish and convenient eyewear, transition lenses are worth considering. They offer UV protection, glare reduction, and the ability to quickly adapt to changing light conditions so you can focus on living in the moment.
The next time you go to buy a new pair of glasses or replace your sunglasses, ask your optician about photochromic lens options. They come in a variety of materials from basic to high-index and a range of tint levels to suit your needs and budget.