If you wear glasses, chances are you've dealt with the annoyance of being in direct sunlight without the proper sun protection. Your everyday clear eyeglasses cause you to squint under the sun, but carrying a second pair of prescription sunglasses is far from convenient. Transition lenses are the perfect medium and give you the versatility to use one frame in any environment or lighting conditions. Clear indoors and dark outside, transition glasses are the hassle-free answer to comfortable and clear vision — at all times. Join SportRx as we answer your most frequently asked questions about transition lenses!
Transition Lenses FAQs
1. What Are Transition Lenses?
2. How Do Transition Lenses Work?
3. Photochromic VS Transitions®: What's the Difference?
4. How to Make Transition Lenses Faster?
5. How Long Do Transitions® Last?
6. What Are My Options for Transition Lenses Colors?
7. Do Transition Lenses Work in the Car?
8. What are the Different Types of Transition Lenses?
8.1. Transitions® Signature®
8.2. Transitions® XTRActive®
8.3. Transitions® Drivewear®
8.4. Transitions® Vantage™
8.5. Transitions® XTRActive® Polarized™
9. Even More Answers to your Photochromic FAQs!
10. Shop Transition Glasses Online at SportRx
Ready to learn about transition lenses? Read below and check out this video with Eyeglass Tyler for everything you need to know.
Transition lenses react to UV exposure (and, in some cases, ambient/available light) and darken, or lighten, depending on the lighting conditions. The more UV present, the darker the tint. When inside, or at night, the lenses will be in their default, non-activated state. This seamless process from clear to dark makes transition glasses one of the most convenient and versatile eyewear choices.
We know that transition lenses react to UV exposure, but how do we explain the change in color? Transition lenses incorporate trillions of photochromic molecules that activate when exposed to UV light. When the structure of these molecules changes simultaneously, this creates the darkening effect on the entire surface of the lens. Conversely, when you leave the presence of UV light, the molecule structure changes once again to fade back to its clear state.
Transitions® is a brand name for the more generic term, photochromic. Both terms also fall under the umbrella term of transition lenses, which all react to UV exposure. Regardless of the name used, all transition glasses adapt to changing lighting conditions to create a hassle-free and seamless visual experience. Finally, you may also occasionally see Transitions® called Light Intelligent Lenses™, which is the brand's trademarked expression.
Unfortunately, there is no way to make transition lenses faster since they react to UV exposure. However, the good news is that today's photochromic lens technology is better, and faster, than ever. Transitions® offers a variety of types of transition lenses, so you can get a model that best suits your needs. Here are a few of the most popular types for your transition glasses:
Historically, the longevity of transition lenses had a life expectancy of around 1–2 years. After this time, they lost some of their reactivity and got a permanent tint to them. However, modern transition glasses have improved over the years, and now last 2–3 years. Our opticians also confirm that they should last beyond that period, but this makes a good mark for updating your transition glasses due to prescription changes.
There are a fair number of color options within the Transitions® brand, but let's focus on the most popular two: brown and grey. If you'd like to see the all the lens colors available, continue reading down below where we discuss the different types of transition lenses.
Which Is Better: Brown or Grey Transition Lenses?
Brown transition lenses excel at contrast-enhancement. They work in a variety of conditions and help make details pop like potholes, hiking trail terrain, or the texture of a golf course. To achieve this level of definition, brown transition lenses use a subtle warm wash of color that your eyes will perceive.
Grey transition lenses provide the darkest level of tint and a natural color experience. They make a great everyday lens, especially if you're looking to wear your transition glasses as your main frame. They do not alter your color perception, which makes grey lenses an excellent choice for those who prefer a true-to-color environment.
Ultimately, the answer to brown vs grey transition lenses will depend on your personal preference and intended use. Generally, brown transition lenses are great for sports and reading terrains, while grey is excellent for everyday.
Car windows and windshields feature an anti-UV treatment that prevents transition glasses from working in the car. This UV-resistant coating prevents certain light rays from entering the interior of your car, which are needed for your photochromic lenses to change. There is, however, the Transitions® Drivewear® technology which was designed specifically to transition behind-the-wheel. We'll go over this type of Transitions® lens here shortly.
For more information, you can also visit our blog on the Best Transition Lenses for Driving.
There are four main types of transition lenses, which we'll review next.
Transitions® Signature® lenses meet the needs of most glasses-wearers and are ideal for everyday wear. They start as clear as traditional eyeglasses, then darken according to the amount of UV light present. This transition covers from clear indoors to a medium tint outdoors. Signature® lenses use GEN 8™ technology, which are some of the fastest light-adjusting lenses available on the market.
One important feature to note is that since Transitions® Signature® lenses require UV exposure, they do not work while driving. There are, however, other types of transition lenses, that do transition behind-the-wheel.
The Transitions® XTRActive® lens is one of the most popular options for transition glasses because of its more-exaggerated level of tint. They go from almost completely clear indoors to significantly darker outdoors. Our opticians also find that the indoor tint is barely noticeable and makes XTRActive® lenses a great choice for your everyday transition glasses.
The main concern glasses-wearers have with the Transitions® Signature® lens is that it doesn't get dark enough in the sun; the XTRActive® lens solves that. It also activates with both UV light and natural, visible light, so that it can adjust slightly in the car. However, if you're looking specifically for driving transition sunglasses, you'll be better off with our next lens type — Transitions® Drivewear®.
Fun Fact: The reason this chart notes "even in high temperatures" is because the chemical reaction that causes photochromic lenses to tint is also somewhat influenced by temperature. The photochromic molecules in the lens move more slowly in cold weather, thus taking longer to transition. In hot weather, they react more rapidly, making your transition lenses more sensitive to UV changes. In other words, they'll change faster!
As the name suggests, Transitions® Drivewear® is optimized for behind-the-wheel. This color option is designed to enhance contrast and bring out the details of the road. Drivewear® lenses are also polarized to reduce glare from other cars, the road, and any other reflective surfaces you encounter during the drive. Overall, Drivewear® transition sunglasses are a perfect choice for those who spend a lot of time on the road, but are not the best for indoor use because they always have a slight tint.
The Transitions® Vantage™ lens goes from almost clear indoors to a medium tint outdoors, similar to the Transitions® Signature®. The unique feature of this lens is its ability to become polarized. Vantage™ lenses align dye molecules to create a polarized filter that blocks glare. And while it does not get quite as dark as XTRActive®, the polarization makes for a comfortable visual experience under the sun. It's also a great choice if you're involved in water sports like fishing, boating, or sailing, since the glare-reduction helps you get a better view of the water.
NOTE: Transitions® Vantage™ is no longer available at sportrx.com.
The newest addition to the Transitions® lens family are the line of XTRActive® Polarized™ lenses. Available in one color, grey, these polarized transition lenses provide 100% UV protection, up to 90% polarization efficiency, and block up to 90% of harmful blue light outdoors. It has behind-the-wheel activation and transitions, but does not polarize in the car. At its darkest, it reaches a category 3 level of tint and turns back to clear 2X faster than previous generations.
NOTE: Transitions® XTRActive® Polarized™ is not available at sportrx.com.
You've got more questions, and we've got more answers.
What Are Transition Lenses Pros and Cons?
Transition lenses are a convenient way to get clear vision and sun protection in a single do-it-all frame. You'll no longer need to carry your everyday eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses with you at all times, since transition glasses always provide the perfect level of tint. They also provide around-the-clock UV protection and blue-light protection — even in their clear state!
For photochromic lenses disadvantages, the list is short. The biggest concern would be lenses not getting as dark as you want or not transitioning as quickly as desired. However, as we learned, today's transition lens technologies are much more advanced than previous generations. For the darkest tint, XTRActive® lenses are ideal. As for speed, Transitions® GEN 8™ technology makes light-adjustment faster than ever.
Why Should I Get Transitions® Over Generic Photochromic Lenses?
Though the cost of Transitions® is higher, they have better quality than other photochromic lenses on the market. Oftentimes, the photochromic capability is applied as a thin laminated film on the lens; thus, it can start to peel away over time. Since the dye in Transitions® is part of the lens, it's far more durable and long-lasting.
Which Transitions® Lenses Are Best for My Sport?
To quickly recap, the Signature® and Drivewear® are best for daily use, the XTRActive® is best for most athletes, and the Vantage™ is best for water-related activities. When in doubt, ask us! Our friendly opticians are standing by — 7 days a week!
Which Eyeglass Frames Support Transitions Lenses?
Most of them. When placing an order with SportRx, you'll see the option to include photochromic lenses when customizing your prescription lenses. From there, you can choose which type of Transitions® will suit you best.
SportRx Insider Tip: Add an anti-reflective coating! This will make the lens look even clearer at night and indoors because it blocks out reflections from the lenses themselves and thus lets more light enter your eyes. An AR coating is especially handy with the XTRActive® and Vantage™ lenses.
Are Transition Lenses Good for Kids?
Yes! It's never too early to start protecting your eyes from the sun. In fact, it's even more important for children to have proper visual sun protection than adults. As their crystalline lens (the structure behind the iris that focuses light onto your retina) is still developing, they require more caution when exposed to harsh UV rays. Need help picking a frame? Check out our lists of the best kids' prescription glasses and best kids' polarized sunglasses, which are available with photochromic lenses. You can also read more on the importance of eye exams for children here.
We hope you found our Transitions® lenses review helpful! If you want to learn more about our pre-built custom lenses, which include a variety of photochromic lenses, check out our SportRx Lens Guide.
Need transition prescription glasses? SportRx has you covered. When you shop with us, you’ll find video guides and tool tips throughout the build process as you customize the perfect pair. An answer to all your questions is at your fingertips, and if you want to chat with an expert, contact us. We’ll put you in touch with one of our friendly in-house opticians who can help you build your prescription transition sunglasses.
Ditch risky online shopping with our See Better Guarantee™. Try your transition lenses for 45 days. If you’re not satisfied, send them back. Get a full refund, exchange, or credit towards a better pair. And return shipping? Covered. Get your pair of transition prescription glasses online at SportRx today!