$1,000 LASIK Discount Washington DC
Myvision.org Home

Transitions Lenses: What You Need to Know Before Buying Transitions Lenses

Transitions Optical is a company that specializes in manufacturing photochromic lenses, which are lenses that automatically adjust their tint in response to changing light conditions. The company has played a significant role in the eyewear industry, changing the way people protect their eyes from sunlight and reducing the need for a separate pair of prescription sunglasses.

Transitions lenses allow wearers to shift seamlessly between different lighting conditions. The lenses change and adjust to provide the best eye protection in each environment.

Brief History of Transitions Optical

A chemist named Dr. Stanley Donald Stookey was working at Corning Glass Works during the 1960s doing experiments on different styles and types of eyewear. He stumbled upon a mesmerizing glass ceramic material with a hidden ability to change color when exposed to light.

Teaming up with eyewear giant Essilor, the team embarked on a mission to bring this new finding to the world. In 1990, Transition Optical was born. A year later, they unveiled their groundbreaking creation, the original Transitions lens. 

Over the years, the company has worked hard to continually push the boundaries of what photochromic lenses could do. Today, Transitions Optical stands tall as a leader in the world of photochromic eyewear. 

How Do Transitions Lenses Work?

Transition lenses, or photochromic lenses, simply adjust their darkness according to different lighting conditions.

The lenses contain special molecules that react to UV light, changing their structure when exposed to bright light and darkening the lenses to protect the wearer’s eyes from glare and harmful UV rays. When the wearer goes indoors or anywhere with lower light conditions, the lenses gradually return to their clear state. 

What Are Transitions Lenses Best For?

These are some of the best applications for Transitions lenses:

  • Outdoor adventures: With Transitions lenses, you don’t have to carry an extra pair of glasses on your trip because your eyewear will adapt and change according to the changing light in nature. They can help to shield your eyes from blinding glare and UV rays, and they’ll then lighten when you are in shade. 
  • Digital eye strain: Continual use of phones, laptops, and other screens means that our eyes are repeatedly exposed to blue light from these screens. Transitions lenses can prevent digital eye strain by curbing the amount of harmful blue light that reaches the wearer’s eyes.

Pros & Cons of Transitions Lenses

Benefits of Transitions Lenses

  • Convenience: Photochromic lenses automatically adjust their tint to changing light conditions, thereby eliminating the need for multiple pairs of glasses for indoor and outdoor use.
  • Eye protection: These lenses block damaging UV rays, reducing the risk of eye damage and conditions like some types of cataracts.
  • Visual comfort: Transitions lenses can reduce glare and eye strain, resulting in less stress on the eyes.
  • Style options: Transitions lenses come in a variety of colors and finishes, allowing you to personalize your eyewear to your style.

Considerations Before Purchasing Transitions Lenses

  • Transition speed: Transition speed can take anywhere from seconds to minutes when it comes to lenses adjusting their tint. Slower transition speed may be an issue in lighting conditions where changes are sudden.
  • Temperature sensitivity: The efficacy of photochromic lenses may vary in very cold temperatures, resulting in slower or less noticeable darkening.
  • Limited tint range: Transitions lenses come with various tint options, but in direct sunlight, they may not get as dark as traditional sunglasses.
  • Performance while driving: Transitions lenses are not designed to darken significantly while driving since most automobile windshields block an extensive amount of ultraviolet rays.
  • Prescription limitations: Some complex prescriptions or certain lens materials may have limitations or restrictions when it comes to Transitions lenses.
  • Decreased performance over time: After years of regular use and shifting from light to dark, the tint range may decrease further and the transition speed may slow.

What Colors & Styles Do Transitions Lenses Come In?

Transitions lenses come in an assortment of colors and styles to meet individual preferences. These are some of the available options:

  • Classic colors: Transitions lenses come in classic colors like gray and brown.
  • Fashion colors: They also come in trendier colors like graphite green, amethyst, emerald, and sapphire. These fashionable hues can add a pop of color to your eyewear.
  • Mirror finishes: Mirrored Transitions lenses feature an eye-catching reflective coating on their front surfaces as well as adaptive tinting.
  • Style variety: Transitions lenses can be tailored to match any of the lens types available, giving you the ability to benefit from adaptive tinting no matter which type of prescription you require.

Where Can You Buy Transitions Lenses?

Transitions lenses can be found at both traditional brick-and-mortar retailers as well as online outlets.

  • Optical retailers: You can find Transition lenses available at reliable optical retailers such as LensCrafters.
  • Optometry practices: Many optometry practices have their own optical shops, offering Transitions lenses as well as professional eye care services.
  • Online retailers: Online retailers, such as Zenni Optical or EyeBuyDirect, you can customize your lenses, and you can choose Transitions lenses if you like.
  • Big-box retailers: All the major big-box retailers that offer optical services and products feature photochromic lenses. You can find them at Costco Optical, Target Optical, and Walmart Vision Centers.

How Much Do Transitions Lenses Cost?

The cost of Transitions lenses can vary greatly, depending on factors like lens type, prescription, and material. These are the baseline costs for different types of Transitions lenses:

  • Basic Transitions lenses: Prices for the simplest Transitions lenses typically start around $50 to $100.
  • High-index Transitions lenses: Thinner and lighter, these lenses can range in price from $100 to $250+.
  • Progressive Transitions lenses: Multifocal lenses may cost between $150 and $400+. 

If you have insurance that covers some or all of your eyewear costs, it may lower your total out-of-pocket bill. If your insurance covers basic lenses, you may have to cover the difference in price between basic lenses and Transition lenses out of pocket. 

Are Transitions Lenses Worth the Investment?

Transitions lenses are more expensive than regular lenses, but most wearers believe they are worth the extra cost because they can avoid purchasing two separate sets of prescription glasses — one for outdoor use and one for indoor use. 

Transitions lenses provide significant eye protection in UV light and vision improvement in different lighting conditions, so they are worth the investment. 


How Do Some Prescription Glasses Change Into Sunglasses Under the Sun? Stony Brook University.

From Screens to Sun. Transitions®.

A Short History of Photosensitive Glass Patents: Ingenta Connect. (December 2014). Recent Innovations in Chemical Engineering.

UV Radiation. (July 2022). National Center for Environmental Health.

Research Progress about the Effect and Prevention of Blue Light on Eyes. (December 2018). International Journal of Ophthalmology.

Ultraviolet Radiation Oxidative Stress Affects Eye Health.(March 2018). Journal of Biophotonics.

Differences in the Optical Properties of Photochromic Lenses Between Cold and Warm Temperatures. (May 2020). PLOS ONE.

UV Exposure in Cars. (2003). Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine.

Transitions® Glasses | Prescription Transition Eyeglasses. Zenni Optical.

Find Your Transitions. Transitions®.

The Effect of a Photochromic Contact Lens on Visual Function Indoors: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. (July 2020). Optometry and Vision Science.

Not sure if you’re a LASIK candidate?
30 Second Quiz