Photochromic lenses: The light-adaptive lenses, light intelligence and variable tint lenses


What are Photochromic Lenses. 1

How Photochromic Lenses work. 1

Pros of Wearing Photochromic lenses. 1

Cons of wearing photochromic lenses. 2

Are photochromic lenses suitable for me?. 2

Case of Extreme sunlight and heat. 2

Maintaining your photochromic glasses. 2


Most of the time, being outdoors is a lot of fun. However, glare from the sun, as well as eyestrain due to squinting, might take away all the pleasure.


Excess UV light from the sunlight damages your eyes. UV light is linked to accelerated cataracts formation, a condition that can cause impaired vision and even blindness.


It is, therefore, quite essential to protect your vision from UV light. Most people wear sunglasses to get protection. However, for those who wear eyeglasses, it is cumbersome to carry two eyewear pairs; sunglasses for the outdoors and eyeglasses for the indoors. One can easily lose one pair in the process of changing from eyeglasses to sunglasses and vice versa.


A more convenient and comfortable option might be wearing eyeglasses that have photochromic lenses.

What are Photochromic Lenses

Photochromic lenses are clear when indoors but darken to a primarily grey or brown tint when exposed to UV light. When UV exposure subsides, the lenses will become clear again.

 Photochromatic lens illustration

Other terms sometimes used for photochromic lenses include "light-adaptive lenses," "light intelligent," and "variable tint lenses."

In short, they act as regular eyeglasses when indoors but automatically become sunglasses when exposed to the sunlight. As a result, one is saved from the hustle of carrying and caring for more than one pair of glasses.


Photochromic lenses are sometimes referred to as "Transition" Lenses. However, Transition is a brand of photochromic lenses. They were the pioneers of photochromic lens technology.

Over the years, the technology used to manufacture these lenses has advanced and has become available to other brands. Other brands of light intelligent lenses are Sensity, LifeRX, PhotoFusion, ColorMatic, PhotoViews, SunSensors, PhotoGray, among others.


How Photochromic Lenses work

During the manufacture of the variable tint lenses, a coating that contains a compound of silver is added to an ordinary optical lens. The silver compound is transparent under visible light that does not have UV light (artificial lighting).


Once exposed to sunlight, this silver compound absorbs UV light. In the process, it changes its color and darkens. Once the UV light is subdued, the reaction of the silver compound molecules is reversed, and they become transparent again.


The lenses will darken even on a cloudy day since clouds do not absorb all the UV light.


However, they cannot work inside a vehicle while driving. The Windscreen of a vehicle filter out UV light. Therefore, the glasses will not tint inside your car.

Pros of Wearing Photochromic lenses

  • Photochromic Lenses adapt to one's environmental changes. When indoors or using artificial lighting, the lenses are clear but darken when exposed to harsh sunlight. On a cloudy day, the tint is light to make sure your vision is sharp.
  • They reduce glare from the sun and minimize eye strains. They are therefore very comfortable to wear.
  • These lenses are available in a wide range of prescriptions and won't be hard to get a pair with your current prescription.
  • They are convenient. Light responsive lenses eliminate the hustle of owning and juggling between 2 pairs of eyeglasses. They are both sunglasses and eyeglasses at the same time (two-in-one).
  • They are cost-effective. Since you don't have to buy a pair of eyeglasses and a pair of sunglasses simultaneously, they save you your hard-earned money. What is even better, Batian Eyewear offers you the photochromic coating at no extra cost.
  • Light Intelligent lenses protect your eyes. These lenses offer 100% protection from both UVA and UVB and are, therefore, suitable for the health of your eyes.Photochromic Lenses

Cons of wearing photochromic lenses

  • They don't work inside your car. Since your windshield absorbs all the UV light, photochromic lenses won tint. As a result, they will not protect you from the glare of sunlight or the reflection of the bonnets of the incoming vehicle.
  • These lenses are affected by low temperatures. In cold weather, they get a darker tint than in warmer weather. However, the main drawback of wearing them in cold weather conditions is that they take longer than usual to turn clear. They might take 5-10 minutes to be clear, which might seem inconvenient.
  • Their tint is not as dark and effective as that of sunglasses
  • Some people don't like them and consider photochromic as dorky and uncool.

Are photochromic lenses suitable for me?

Yes, they are. The auto-tinting lenses are a practical and cost-effective way of protecting your eyes from harmful light.

Photochromic lenses are ideal for a person who spends most of their time outdoors. When outdoors, the risk of over-exposure to UV light is high, risking cataracts, among other eye conditions.

They are won by people who need both comfort and good vision, such as golfers, tennis placers, and the police, among others.

Besides, photochromic lenses are ideal for children who are below the age of 12. Their eyes are not yet developed enough to filter out UV light that damages the human eye. Much of the macular degeneration due to UV light exposure occurs before the age of 12.

Case of Extreme sunlight and heat.

In case you occasionally work in extreme sunlight conditions, it would be advisable to have a pair of polarized sunglasses that filter UVA and UVB. Light responsive lenses might not be of much help in such harsh conditions.

Maintaining your photochromic glasses.

It is recommended that you clean your lenses regularly with cold running water and kitchen soap. You can also use a special lens cleaning spray.


Besides, it is recommended that you only use a microfiber cloth that comes with your glasses to clean them. It would be best not to clean them with your shirt, tissue paper or kitchen towel. At the same time, your glasses should only be kept in case when you are not using them. The compound that makes the lenses have a variable tint is contained in a coating that can scratch easily, therefore reducing their optical quality.



American Academy of Ophthalmology