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Photochromic Lenses: What They Are, and Why You Need Them

by Sep 13, 2021

Did you know that it’s possible to see the world through rose-colored glasses—literally? It’s true! As luxury eyewear brands partner with the latest in “smart lens” technology, more and more consumers are seeing the value in photochromic technology. Seeing clearly has never looked better.

Gucci Photochromic Lenses Indoors

Gucci eyewear with photochromic lenses are used as eyeglasses when indoors

What Are Photochromic Lenses?

Simply put, photochromic lenses are lenses that automatically darken or lighten according to the amount of UV light they’re exposed to. And with the growing awareness of our eyes’ response to different kinds of light, this technology is becoming increasingly popular.

From blue light in screens and devices, to the sun’s UV-A and UV-B rays, light affects us all, especially our delicate and finely-tuned eye systems. Since their debut more than a decade ago, photochromic lenses have been, and remain, important tools for filtering light and reducing eye strain. 

First made famous by Transitions®, photochromic lenses are specialty lenses that darken to a sunglass tint in bright light, and become clear in dim or ambient light. These days, lenses from designers like Gucci, Cartier, and others are taking this health-benefiting technology to new heights of style and elegance.

 

How Do Photochromic Lenses Work?

Gucci Photochromic Lenses Outdoors

Gucci eyewear with photochromic lenses automatically darken to sunglasses when exposed to UV light

So how exactly do smart lenses work? The answer lies in changes that happen on a molecular level. Within the lens, microscopic molecules of silver halide and chloride react to UV rays, effectively absorbing those rays, and causing the lens to “darken.” When UV rays are absent, the lenses become clear again. This means that in bright outdoor light, smart lenses transition to a darker, UV-absorbing tint. This eliminates the need for wearers of prescription glasses wearers to take off their indoor glasses and put on prescription sunglasses.

Another common question is, how long does it take for the lenses to change? In the past, photochromic lenses’ reputation for sluggish transition prevented many consumers from choosing to use photochromic technology. Now, the eighth generation of photochromic tech means that the lenses take far less time to transition. In general, it takes just one or two minutes for the lenses to significantly darken or lighten, with full lightness or darkness achieved after 5 to 10 minutes.


Pros and Cons of Photochromic Lenses

When deciding whether or not to use photochromic lenses, it’s helpful to understand the pros and cons of this technology. 

Pros

  • Protective: These lenses filter out harmful UV-A and UV-B rays, protecting eyes from the harshest rays of the sun. Some also block blue light from screens and devices.
  • Cost-Efficient and Convenient: Allow prescription eyeglass wearers to purchase and maintain only one pair of glasses, instead of two; this is both cost-efficient and convenient.
  • Fashionable: Luxury brands have made the latest photochromic lenses available in an impressive array of stylish frames and beautiful colors. The glasses double as luxury sunglasses, with no additional cost for frames and no need to change glasses.
  • Versatile: High index, progressive, and bifocal lenses can all be made with photochromic lens technology, making these the ultimate in prescription luxury eyewear.

Cons

  • Temperature Dependent: Because the lenses activate in response to UV rays, they may take longer to darken or lighten in cold weather, and may be darker in cold weather and lighter in warm weather.
  • Less Effective While Driving: Car windshields are designed to filter UV light, which is good for your health but may affect your photochromic lenses. Without UV light, some lenses won’t darken, although some have been engineered to darken in visible light as well as UV light.
  • May Not be Polarized: Polarization of lenses helps to reduce harsh glare, but some photochromic lenses may not be polarized. To determine if this is an issue, it’s a good idea to speak to an eye care professional.

Luxury Eyewear Brands Are Changing the Game with Smart Lens Technology

Style-wise, photochromic lenses are making quite a splash, as new collections by the biggest names in luxury eyewear put smart lens technology to use. Gucci’s new rose-colored lenses for women transition from pale pink to deep burgundy in bright light, while menswear and unisex designs boast a transparent ochre darkening to brown. Both colors are designed to complement the on-trend lines of Gucci’s luxury frames.

Cartier has introduced gorgeous blue lenses, transitioning from the palest celestial blue to a deep ocean hue, available in rimless and full-rim designs.

And Transitions®, the pioneer of photochromic lens technology, is also on the forefront of stylish innovation. Their signature lenses are now available in a gorgeous selection of colors: Emerald, Sapphire, Amethyst, and Amber.

Everything Eyes

If you are interested in trying out photochromic lenses for yourself or our full line of eye care products, visit Everything Eyes. Located in Delray Beach, Florida, just North of Boca Raton, Everything Eyes provides exceptional eye care while featuring luxury brands and a concierge experience. We pride ourselves on giving each customer the personalized attention they deserve, and offer a finely-curated selection of the finest luxury eyewear available today.

If you are in need of an updated prescription or eye exam, our board-certified optometrists, Dr. Gustavo Garmizo and Dr. Amanda Golchin, can provide you with a comprehensive eye exam to make sure you are seeing well while looking good. 

Our concierge service is not volume or commission-based, so sit back and enjoy as we carefully curate a selection of eyewear to fit your unique style with gorgeous and comfortable luxury eyeglasses or sunglasses. We carry the latest styles from all of your favorite luxury eyewear brands including Gucci, Cartier, Anne Et Valentin, and Chrome Hearts.

Don’t live near Delray Beach or Boca Raton? Don’t worry! We ship our luxury eyewear nationwide and are happy to assist you over the phone. We are even open on Saturdays! Call (561) 499-2055 to learn more, click here to schedule an appointment, or check out some of what the luxury collection has to offer.

 

 

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