Sportswear lenses in a SEIKO wrap tech frame use a proprietary tint that filters light evenly.
Photochromic lenses now come in several varieties from sportswear options to custom designs.
The choices in photochromic lenses (also known as adaptive lenses) have been pretty stable for years. Then, at the beginning of 2010, it seemed that every time you opened VCPN, there was another addition to this family of lenses. These newer offerings run the gamut from everyday to activity-specific choices. Here’s a look at some of the latest ones.

Known for creating the first plastic photochromic lenses and bringing many photochromic firsts to the market, Transitions Optical, Inc. has done it again with a new groundbreaking technology that creates the first clear-to-dark lens that delivers both variable tint and variable polarization. Named Transitions® Vantage™ lenses, these everyday adaptive lenses are nearly clear indoors and darken and polarize outdoors. As the degree of darkening increases, so does the lens’ polarization efficiency. For the first time, photochromic lens wearers can also eliminate plane polarized glare (the kind that bounces off shiny surfaces like water, concrete and a car hood.) For more information, see Making the Impossible Possible.”
Serengeti pioneered photochromic technology for sunglasses with its driver eyewear.

A recent addition in the photo- chromic category is Carl Zeiss Vision Inc.’s (CZV) PhotoFusion® lens which is a proprietary self-tinting lens. CZV claims that PhotoFusion lenses darken up to 20% faster than previous Zeiss photochromic lenses and fade back to clear two times faster. PhotoFusion lenses offer 100% solar UV protection, maintain some darkening inside a car, and are compatible with the full range of CZV anti-reflective treatments. One feature that sets the PhotoFusion lens apart from others is that it can be tinted, and tinting will not affect the lens warranty. This makes it possible for you to custom design a lens for specific applications.

PhotoFusion lenses are available in both true charcoal gray and brown. You’ll find them offered in the full Zeiss Individual™ lens line including both single vision and progressive addition lenses (PALs), the Sola HD series, AO HD, VSP Reveal® PALs and single vision, and in the Zeiss GT2 and GT2 short progressives. Material choices include 1.5 CR-39®, polycarbonate, and a 1.67 high-index.

A “MUST HAVE” The evolution of photochromic lenses has led to new generations of established products. It has spawned new products that promise to bring innovative and exciting features. In recent years, photochromics have improved their lightening/darkening times and improved their darkness outdoors to the point that eyecare professionals (ECPs) get few complaints. Some photochromic lenses are now designed as adaptive sunwear while others are intended for specific tasks like driving or tactical operations. Available in a wide range of lens materials, impact resistant levels, colors and options like polarization and anti-reflection, photochromic lenses are fast becoming a “must-have” lens feature.

Wiley X Eyewear puts its tactile know-how into sunwear for motorcycling, racing, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Its lens offerings include the LA™ light adjusting photochromic option. These lenses adjust from dark when there is bright sun to clear on overcast days. Regulating light absorption this way provides comfortable vision in all lighting conditions and avoids having the user exchange lenses as lighting conditions change.

Helping to define the image of a sports car driver, Serengeti became famous with its driver eyewear. Touted as the “world’s best driving sunglass” by the company, you’ll find numerous collections and styles but with the same outcome in mind—driving clarity and comfort. Their original photochromic glass driver lenses are now joined by plastic Polar PhD™ NXT® lenses that are both photochromic and polarized and use the company’s Spectral Control technology to manage specific colors of the spectrum.

X-Cel Optical Co. produces a lens with Transitions technology for the avid outdoorsperson. Designed with a variable tint and a gold color, the lenses are named Autumn Gold™ Transitions® SOLFX™. When not activated, the lenses have a medium yellow tint. In their activated state, they turn a deep brown tint. These lenses increase contrast sensitivity in all outdoor
The WX Echo from Wiley X includes a Light Adjusting gray lens that lightens and darkens as the sun dictates.
Vision-Ease Lens says its LifeRx FSV lens is the highest performance photochromic on the market.
lighting conditions including fog, overcast, and full, bright sunshine. X-Cel recommends the Autumn Gold series for hunting, sporting clays, archery, and target shooters. And yes, they do activate inside an automobile but don’t reach full darkness. And of course they block 100% UV-A and UV-B radiation. You’ll find them available in a single vision configuration in X-Cel’s Aris® lenses made from Trivex® material.

Vision-Ease Lens came out with its LifeRx® light responsive lenses seven years ago. Last June, the company released the LifeRx FSV finished single vision lens. According to the company, what makes the product stand out is its availability. Vision-Ease offers three styles and claims they are the only polycarbonate photochromic lenses on the market so wearers get the advantage of polycarbonate’s impact resistance along with the adaptive benefits of the photochromic technology. Available in gray, the new LifeRx FSV lenses and their SFSV counterparts are 100% interchangeable thanks to matching front curves on both lines. “We have speed of deactivation,” said Jay Lusignan, marketing communications manager at Vision-Ease Lens. “It only takes minutes to get back to clear. We have the highest performance photochromic on the market.”

Corning Ophthalmic states that their SunSensors™ plastic photo- chromic lenses are the second-largest selling photochromics on the market and suggests that they are the alternative photochromic lens. Made from a 1.56 index proprietary material, SunSensor lenses are lighter than their poly- carbonate counterparts. Corning sells directly to lens manufacturers so you’ll find these lenses in a wide variety of configurations including single vision and PALs.


Live Eyewear’s Cocoons® brand now offers a photochromic lens option. The photochromic polarized Polar® lenses are UV activated and available in all six of the collection’s patented frame styles (see “Live’s Cocoons Goes Photochromic,” p.72).

Last year, Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc. and Transitions collaborated to create the Seiko® Sportswear Transitions® SOLFX performance sunwear collection. The lenses change from an initial G-15 style light green tint while non-activated to a dark green G-15 style tint in bright sunlight. This proprietary tint filters light evenly throughout its activation range, even in varying outdoor lighting conditions. These lenses are designed for consumers who need an extended wear lens that delivers superior optics across an entire day. They are particularly useful for a wide variety of outdoor sports and related activities, like running, hiking, and walking. Seiko has engineered these lenses using their wrap design so that they can be offered in heavily wrapped sports frames while maintaining the correct prescription with reduced thickness.

With all the choices now avail-able, you’re sure to find an ideal lens for just about any patient’s needs.

John Seegers is a licensed optician at Ryan Vision Center in Henrico, VA, and the creator of


Carl Zeiss Vision Inc.
800-358-8258 •

Corning Ophthalmic
800-821-2020 •

Live Eyewear
800-834-2563 •

Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc.
800-235-5367 •

888-838-1449 •

Transitions Optical, Inc.
800-848-1506 •

Vision-Ease Lens
800-328-3449 •

Wiley X Eyewear
800-776-7842 •

X-Cel Optical Co.
800-747-9235 •

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