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Can Transition Contact Lenses Remove the Need for Sunglasses?

Walking into the bright sun can be frustrating for people who need vision correction. If you wear glasses, you need to make sure that you also have prescription sunglasses with you. The other alternative was to wear sunglasses on top of your contact lenses. Neither were ideal scenarios. Transition contact lenses truly offer the best of all worlds at once. 

There’s currently only a single brand of contact lenses that features transition technology and that’s the Acuvue Oasys with Transitions blend. It took around a decade for Acuvue and Transitions researching together to in effort to create the lenses. These lenses alter shade depending on the amount of UV and blue light that is reaching them. This sounds great, but are they truly better than sunglasses?

What Are Transitions Lenses?

The concept of transition lenses have been around for a couple of decades now. The basics are simple. These single pair of eyeglasses replaces the need for both eyeglasses and sunglasses. This is accomplished through the lenses. 

Transitions lenses function through photosensitivity. When they are hit by sunlight, they begin the process of darkening. This allows the viewer to avoid powerful and potentially uncomfortable glare. The change doesn’t occur immediately, but is rather a slower “transition” to a different shade. 

How Do They Work for Contacts?

The concept remains the same for contact lenses. Current transition contact lenses are made of a hydrogel material. This has a photochromic additive included into it. It’s this additive that shifts colors and darkens the lens. It’s important to note that UV light triggers it, but so does blue light that comes from laptops, devices and lightbulbs! 

The idea is that the contacts are always adjusting, and aside from moments of immense change, the wearer shouldn’t notice a big difference. Arguably the biggest issue may be the appearance. People are used to seeing different colors of sunglasses and eyeglasses, so a transition from one to the other in that form isn't as noticeable. When heading into direct sunlight wearing the transition contact lens, the eye will often turn a very dark purple brown color. This can be a bit jarring to your friends and family the first time they see it shift without remembering that you’re wearing those lenses. 

Benefits of Wearing Them

Some of the benefits should be immediately obvious after reading about transition contact lenses. They are arguably the perfect option for people who deal with light sensitivity. Not just from the sun, but especially from devices. They will work to reduce the strain the eyes have to undergo to look at the blue light. 

The benefit to office workers who are constantly dealing with monitors and screens all day are strong. There’s no need for bulky screen covers or other methods to reduce the glare you are seeing. Casual trips outside are usually not an issue for people with transition contacts as they feel less glare than they might otherwise. 

Are Sunglasses Threatened?

There’s one important thing to recognize. They don’t block UV radiation from the entire eye. They do block it from the part the contact covers. Transition contacts also don’t get as dark as sunglasses do. This means on the very brightest of days, they will be less effective. Wearing sunglasses overtop of the transitions contacts will not cause them to darken since the UV light is getting filtered by the sunglasses themselves. 

The end result is that transitions contacts do have a lot of benefits, but haven’t managed to replace sunglasses as of yet. Proper eye health does need to protect the eye from the harmful effects of the sun, and sunglasses still provide the best protection. Where they are an upgrade is from traditional contact lenses. The added protection and comfort can be a nice boon.


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