Are Transitions Right For You?

10:07 PM

Remember when you used to have to shield your eyes from the sun when you walked outdoors in your glasses?  Or take them off and switch them for a pair of sunglasses in your amazingly heavy purse?  Quick pulse check -- do you really like doing this extra work?  Because it is 2012 (almost 2013!) after all.

Transitions is a marketing juggernaut--most of your patients
are going to recognize this name!
Photochromic lenses have come a long way from their humble beginnings, and Transitions is a highly recognizable name brand.  The Transitions product has basically become synonymous with photochromics (lenses that turn from light to dark).  It is one of the only products that my patients continually ask for by name during the course of my exam.  So why are they so popular?  Transitions or other photochromic lenses use a special molecule that detects the amount of UV light in the environment, and darkens based on that amount of light.  They are 100% UV blocking, meaning they fully protect ocular tissue like the lens and retina from harmful UV damage.  And while they don't darken to the same extremity as sunglasses, each new etiology of this technology is getting closer and closer.

Like every great innovation, photochromic lenses like Transitions do have some drawbacks.  They use UV light to ignite the color change, so if you are behind a UV shield, your lenses will not fully darken.  The windshield of your car is a UV shield, so your lenses will not get as dark behind the steering wheel as they do when you are outside.  Newer products like Transitions XTRActive are made to darken more while driving, but if you spend most of your day in the car, you may prefer prescription sunglasses instead.

Photochromics are not just light activated, they are also temperature dependent.  Your lenses will darken less quickly in the heat, and change more quickly and fully in the cold.  It is just how the molecular make-up works.  If you notice your lenses aren't changing as well as they used to when first purchased, try putting them in the fridge for an hour or two.  The cooler temperatures are going to speed up that darkening transition!
Panthers coach Ron Rivera is never without his Transitions on the
football field.  I think they may be glued to his head at this point.
photo via

New Technology

If you love polarized sunglasses (and if you haven't tried them, they really are worth it!), they even make photochromic lenses with polarization these days.  Newer technology like Transitions Vantage is not polarized when clear, but polarizes when the darkening change is activated.  At this point, the technology is only available in certain materials (lower Rxs) but expect more options in future.

If you get Photochromic lenses...

make sure you also get a good anti-reflective coating.  The last thing you want is to spend a lot of money on darkening lenses to shield your eyes from sunlight glare, and then get a lot of glare bouncing off your glasses.  For some activities, you may still even want prescription sunglasses.  If you are an athlete or have a hobby or profession where you spend a lot of time outdoors, prescription sunglasses with larger frame sizes or wrapped frames offer more protection around your delicate eyelid skin, which can protect you from very common skin cancers.

Transitions for kids?

A doctor once told me that Transitions are great for kids because they help make your kid want to wear their glasses.  It might not work for every child, but if your kid needs to wear glasses and having Transitions makes them think glasses are "cool" enough to wear, then great -- I'm all for kids wearing their glasses!  More importantly, I strongly recommend sun protection for children's eyewear for medical reasons.  Did you know that the vast majority of UV light you are exposed to in a lifetime happens before age 20?  That means the damage that causes you to have cataracts or pterygium or pinguecula (growths on the white of the eye) is occurring when you are a child. Not to mention, kids spend a lot more time outdoors than we do as adults.  Your child really does need some form of sun protection, be it sunglasses or photochromic lenses, and keeping up with multiple pairs of glasses is hard for even adults so I recommend to parents to make life easy -- have 1 pair that does it all with Transitions.

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  1. Because quantity of options pertaining to kids glasses take an upswing, the operation of purchasing a couple for your kids has developed into a tedious.

  2. I think transition eyeglasses are for everyone. We should give it a try.