Just because photochromic lenses are nothing new to the optical industry doesn’t mean their technology isn’t constantly evolving. Photochromic lenses came on the scene in the ’60s in glass lens material and since then have become a vertical market of their own, helping patients’ eyes easily adjust when going from dark to light and vice versa.
The real breakthrough came in the early ’90s when Transitions Optical introduced plastic photochromic lenses. At this time, Transitions lenses were made of a lightweight plastic monomer based on the CR-39 resin. The material was mixed with a photochromic material that was activated by the sun’s UV rays, turning the lens from clear to dark.
While first generation Transitions lenses darkened slowly and not very intensely, continuous improvements have improved on their speed of color change and their darkness and clarity. Since the introduction of its first generation in the ’90s, Transitions Optical’s photochromic lenses are now in their seventh iteration with its significantly advanced Transitions Signature VII technology that has dramatically improved on changeability and color. Although Transitions introduced the breakout photochromic lens and continues to dominate the market, many companies have followed suit to bring ECPs new options in this category.
FLAT TOP 28 & AR
Recently launched in partnership with Younger Optics, Flat Top 28 polycarbonate composite lenses are now available in both gray and brown. This new Transitions technology allows more bifocal wearers to enjoy the unsurpassed photochromic performance of Transitions Signature VII lenses.
“Younger Optics and Transitions Optical have developed a polycarbonate composite lens that incorporates a thin photochromic front surface bifocal layer made of Trivex-resulting in a lens delivering Transitions Signature VII performance and segment cosmetics in a product that is surfaced, polished, edged and dispensed just like a clear polycarbonate lens,” said David Rips, president and CEO of Younger Optics.
In summer 2016, Younger Optics expanded its Transitions finished single vision lens line to include high-index 1.67 aspheric finished single-vision lenses with super hydrophobic anti-reflective coating, in Transitions Signature VII gray and brown.
The super hydrophobic AR has been shown by independent tests to outperform many of the leading AR coatings used by ECPs today. It provides high transmission to let more light through the lens, allowing the wearer to see clearer while preventing reflections.
“Younger Optics is committed to supplying a wide range of Transitions finished products,” said Rips. ECPs can order these Transitions finished single vision lenses from their full-service laboratory.
At Vision Expo West, VISION EASE introduced its “No Compromise” lens, the company’s newest high-performance photochromic lens. “In the past, consumers had to compromise comfort and convenience when they purchased photochromic lenses,” said Grady Lenski, chief marketing officer at VISION EASE. “However, that’s all changed now as we’ve developed a photochromic lens that outperforms the national brand at every turn.” In internal light transmission tests conducted by VISION EASE, the new photochromic lenses have shown that they are 2.5% clearer indoors than the national brand and 7.3% darker when worn outdoors. The lenses also present a faster activation (27%) than the national brand as well as a much faster fade-back (44%), according to the company.
“Our new photochromic lenses can change as fast as our busy lives do,” said Lenski. “You don’t have to wait for your lenses to keep up with you anymore.”
The No Compromise lens is also proven to block 91% of blue light outdoors and 43% of blue light indoors. Additionally, the lenses contain an improved true gray color. Upcoming availability of numerous polycarbonate gray styles include: SFSV, A SFSV, D28 bifocal, D35 bifocal, 7×28 trifocal and a decentered Novel Progressive.
HOYA’s Sensity lenses take photochromics to a whole new level with Stability Technology. Not only are they able to darken to an attractive category 3 sun lens faster than before, but they also more quickly fade back to a clear lens. During these rapid transitions, total UV protection remains, providing user convenience as well as protection.
Sensity lenses are made with HOYA’s proprietary Photochromic Precision Technology, a microscopically accurate spin coating process that evenly distributes molecules over the entire surface of the lens, allowing for superior adhesion and resulting in exceptional performance and extended durability.
Sensity light-reactive lenses have been tested to be up to 20% less temperature sensitive as well as darken up to 45% darker after 90 seconds, and fade back to light 23% after one minute.
A high- and mid-index self-tinting lens, ZEISS PhotoFusion quickly adjusts to any light condition for optimum clarity, maintains color consistency and offers 100% solar UV protection. PhotoFusion’s photo-active molecules quickly respond to light energy, darkening up to 20% faster and fading twice as fast as the leading photochromic lenses, according to the company .
Although ZEISS PhotoFusion lenses are not new to the market, they have been upgraded to include 1.50 index, which is already available in the company’s other free-form lenses.
VSP offers its sunsync photochromic lenses in either gray or brown in its full portfolio of UNITY lenses. The company’s one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee allows VSP members to try them risk free. Introduced in 2013, sunsync light-reactive technology was specifically designed to complement digital progressive and single vision lenses and coatings from UNITY. They quickly darken in sunlight and return to clear indoors, provide 100% UVA and UVB protection, minimize glare, and reduce blue light exposure from digital screens, energy-efficient lighting and the sun.
A new photochromic lens by FEA Industries, Inc., NuanceRT has a proprietary molecular makeup that allows them to isolate molecules that change color, causing them to respond faster to light and maximize their fade, according to the company. NuanceRT comes in plastic, polycarbonate, 1.60 and 1.67, and soon in Trivex. Lenses are currently available in gray in both single vision and free-form designs.
Regardless of brand, photochromic lenses are an optical technology that has revolutionized the lens market. As an ECP is it important to educate your patients on the importance of always protecting their eyes from both UV rays, and bad blue light, and since photochromic lenses are the solution to both, it is a great way to help your patients protect their eyes in any lighting situation.
Jaimee Palkovicz is marketing coordinator of i-see Optical Lab in Blackwood, NJ.
WHERE TO FIND IT:
Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc. • 800.358.8258 • zeiss.com/lenses