While one company clearly dominates the photochromic lens market, there are a number of options when selecting these lenses that go from clear to dark in response to sunlight.

From their launch in 1991 through a joint partnership between PPG and Essilor, plastic photochromic lenses have become a popular lens option for millions of eyeglass wearers around the world. Now produced by a number of companies, many U.S. lens and sunwear companies offer them. The result is a cornucopia of products for you and your patients to choose from. Here is an overview of what is available.

A lens menu of today’s photochromic lenses includes plano, single vision, multifocal and progressive lenses, readily available in a wide variety of lens materials including polycarbonate, CR-39, Trivex, NXT, several mid- and high-index materials, a number of proprietary materials and a spectrum of colors and different dark and light ranges.


The most well-known photochromics are lenses that use the Transitions process. Transitions Optical partners with ophthalmic lens and sunwear companies so they can offer photochromic lenses.

Transitions Signature VII lenses are more reactive to indirect light than previous versions and are fully clear indoors. Using an exclusive dye formulation called Chromea7 technology, these lenses are less dependent on temperature and altitude. This means that Signature VII lenses will be darker than before on hot days without sacrificing any indoor clarity. The lenses are offered in myriad designs, materials and colors, depending on the company offering them.

Some patients prefer a lens that is not completely clear indoors. Transitions XTRActive lenses are the company’s darkest photochromic lenses with a hint of tint indoors, making them ideal for those who are light sensitive or who desire a lens that will be even darker outdoors or behind the windshield of a car.


Transitions Vantage lenses are both photochromic and polarized (the only lens with variable polarization). Indoors, the lenses have a slight gray tint and no polarization. As they activate to UV light, they become increasingly darker gray and more polarized so that when they are completely dark, they deliver their full polarized potential. Transitions Vantage lenses convey all the benefits of photochromic and polarized lenses in one pair of eyeglasses.

Offered by Younger Optics, Transitions Drivewear lenses are both photochromic and polarized but are designed for driving and outdoor use. Drivewear lenses use a fixed polarized layer that delivers continuous glare reduction and improved contrast enhancement. The variable tint changes from an olive green to a copper color when inside a car. Outdoors, the lenses become dark brown when fully activated. Because the lenses were designed specifically for the challenges drivers face, they are an excellent option for the vast majority of people who get behind the wheel of a car. It should be noted that these lenses are not conducive to night driving and patients should be told.


Another breakthrough in photochromics that Younger Optics worked on with Transitions Optical was the development of a polycarbonate segmented multifocal, the Transitions VII Flat Top 28. For 18 years, patients requesting a Transitions polycarbonate bifocal could not get one or were given a substitute, until now. The Transitions VII Flat Top 28 from Younger is a polycarbonate composite lens that incorporates a thin photochromic front surface bifocal layer made of Trivex. The 1.59-index lens is surfaced, polished, edged and dispensed just like a clear polycarbonate lens.

Another photochromic option, the PhotoFusion by ZEISS adjusts to any light conditions-full sunlight, indoor lighting and everthing in between-while providing 100% UV protection. Environmental testing shows that PhotoFusion by ZEISS lenses retain excellent performance over time and maintain consistent color as they darken and fade back so your patients will have the best visual and cosmetic experience.

VSP offers its sunsync lenses in its full portfolio of UNITY lenses. The company’s one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee allows VSP members to try them risk free. VSP’s sunsync lenses are available in gray and brown.

VISION EASE offers two photochromic lens options. VISION EASE LifeRx light responsive lenses are polycarbonate and an excellent choice if you have had a poor experience with AR adhesion on other photochromic lenses. Formulations have to be made to ensure that components of an AR treatment are compatible with the monomer and other treatments on the lens base. If they are not compatible, the lenses can craze and wearers have a less than ideal experience. The second photochromic option from VISION EASE is a plastic lens called ChangeRx. This lens offers high performance photochromic characteristics at a reduced price that can bring a healthier margin to your dispensary.

If you have a patient who has had difficulty reading GPS LCD screens with their polarized lenses, look to Rudy Project and its Impact X Polarized Photochromic lenses. These lenses have polarization technology tailored to allow wearers to read those screens without compromising the clarity or performance of the lens. By slightly dialing back the opacity of the polarizing filter, these glasses cut glare without cutting out the ability to clearly read LCD displays.


For the price conscious patient, consider offering PhotoViews by Signet Armorlite. At their value pricing, PhotoViews performance compares to brand names and offers 100% UVA/UVB protection. These lenses are available in CR-39 gray/brown in single vision, bifocal, trifocal and multiple progressive designs at your favorite lab. Polycarbonate is available in gray/brown single vision and several progressives. Visit www.signetarmorlite.com/promotions/photoviews/ to take a quiz and receive a PhotoViews POS Demonstrator.

The options available in today’s photochromic lenses are many. As you get to know the wants and needs of your patients, you will be able to find many product solutions to enhance their vision and lifestyle.

Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc.
800.358.8258 • zeiss.com/vision-care

Essilor of America, Inc. 800.542.5668 • essilorusa.com

HOYA Vision Care, North America 877.528.1939 • hoyavision.com

Nikon Optical USA, Inc. 877.767.8033 • nikonlenswear.us

Rudy Project North America 888.860.7597 • rudyprojectusa.com • Sara Riding inside sales sriding@gorace.pro

Seiko Optical Products of America, Inc. 800.235.5367 • seikoeyewear.com

Shamir Insight, Inc. 877.514.8330 • shamirlens.com

Signet Armorlite, Inc. 800.759.0075 • signetarmorlite.commarketingliterature@signetarmorlite.com

Transitions Optical, Inc. 1-800-533-2081 • transitions.comCustomerService@Transitions.com

VISION EASE 800.328.3449 • visionease.cominfo@visionease.com

Vision Service Plan (VSP) 800.877.7195 • vsp.com

Younger Optics 800.366.5367 • youngeroptics.comdrivewearlens.commarketing@youngeroptics.com

X.Cel Optical Co. 800.747.9235 • x.celoptical.com

Joy L. Gibb, ABOC, is the lead optician at Daynes Eye and Lasik in Bountiful, Utah.


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