Which will help your vision morephotochromic or polarized lenses, both technologies combined, or prescription sunglasses? Learn the pros and cons of each.
Photochromic lenses change color when exposed to light. The term photochromic comes from the Greek words photo, meaning light, and chroma, meaning color. They're also called light adaptive, variable tint, or photochromatic lenses, and sometimes they're called by the brand name Transitions® Light Intelligent Lenses™. If you're interested in photochromic lenses for your everyday, clear prescription glasses, read more about Transitions lenses.
Photochromic lenses are clear indoors, but a chemical reaction within the lens causes them to darken after about 30 seconds of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight. After moving indoors, the lenses become clear again within a few minutes. Adaptive lenses are available in a range of materials, lens colors, and with various lens treatments, including anti-glare coatings. Some adaptive lenses become polarized as they tint. Transitions® Light Intelligent Lenses™ can be used even in prescription progressive and bifocal eyeglasses.
Prescription sunglasses are better for long periods of time in the sun, while photochromic lenses are better while moving between indoors and outdoors all day. But there are pros and cons on both sides of the Transitions® Light Intelligent Lenses™ versus prescription sunglasses debate. Both can block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Both light-adaptive lenses and prescription sunglasses lenses will work in most optical-quality frames, including designer styles from top brands.
When trying to decide between the two, first consider what you spend the majority of your time doing.
Note: Photochromic performance can be influenced by temperature, so lenses can also take longer to adjust in the cold.
Many people appreciate the opportunity to accessorize with bold sunglasses, while others find it a hassle to switch between prescription sunglasses and regular glasses.
When it comes to Transitions® Light Intelligent Lenses™, cost earns a check in the “pro” column.
Photochromic glasses can reduce eye strain by continuously adapting to changing light conditions. This means:
While photochromic lenses are useful for an outdoor barbecue or going for a walk, they have some drawbacks.
You need UV protection every time you step outside, but there are other ways to protect your eyes from the glare and bright conditions that come with the great outdoors. Sunglasses can help prevent squinting, discomfort, and eye strain caused by the sunbut not all sunglasses are created equal. Explore the differences between polarized and photochromic lenses, and the pros and cons of each.
Polarized lenses are engineered to block light that bounces off surfaces like cars and water in the form of horizontal wavelengths, thus preventing glare. When you're looking for glare reduction and crisp vision for sports, driving, and outdoor activities, polarized lenses may do the trick. Filtering these wavelengths decreases strain on your eyes, so you're more comfortable in bright, high-glare environments.
Polarized lenses don't offer protection from UV rays on their own, so you'll need to make sure the sunglasses you choose come with 100% UV protection. And they're not ideal for all conditionspolarization can make it difficult to see your phone or GPS screen, and pilots usually aren't allowed to wear them while flying. When the weather gets chilly, polarized lenses can make it difficult to see icy patches on the slopes. Some people experience nausea or dizziness while wearing polarized lenses, and others simply prefer non-polarized lenses.
Common applications for polarized sunglasses include:
Photochromic sunglasses lenses automatically adjust to the light conditions so the ideal amount of tint can pass through the lenses. If you'll experience varying light conditions in your activities, photochromic lenses might be the right choice. While a darker tint doesn't mean more UV protectiononly the UV treatment on the lenses can offer thatit does mean your eyes are as comfortable in the bright morning sun as they are on a slightly overcast day, because the tint adapts as necessary.
Most photochromic lenses are not ideal for driving as windshields block the UV light that makes the lenses darken. And photochromic lens performance may decline after a few years, making them slower to respond.
Common applications for photochromic sunglasses include:
When choosing between photochromic and polarized lenses, first think about when you wear sunglasses. Do you expect to wear them for driving, hiking, jogging, or fishing? Polarized lenses might be the right choice for your lifestyle. If you will be skiing, using a smartphone or camera display, or flying a plane, they're not the best option. Though the convenience of photochromic sunglasses lenses is ideal for changing light conditions, they may not work behind the wheel and won't be as effective in reducing glare.
But you don't have to choose between them if both will work for you: Many photochromic sunglasses come with polarized lenses. They'll block glare and adjust to changing light conditions, so your eyes are always comfortably protected. Depending on your lifestyle and where you intend to wear your sunglasses, you may choose a pair of polarized photochromic lenses like the styles from Serengeti or Oakley.
Whether you're on the water, trail, road, or elsewhere, sunglasses are essential to protect your eyes and keep you from squinting against bright conditions. Polarized or photochromic lensesor bothprevent eye strain in a variety of circumstances so you can enjoy the ideal protection anywhere you wander. These lenses, paired with 100% UV protection, keep your eyes comfortable and healthy year-round.
Contact one of our experienced opticians if you have any questions about photochromic lenses.
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