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What Are Progressive Transition Lenses and Are They for You?

You know that feeling when you’re out and about, and you dig in your bag to find your sunglasses — but they aren’t there? Having to carry two pairs of glasses is a common frustration for glasses wearers on the move. There’s an easy solution though: transition glasses or — if you need multiple prescriptions — progressive transition lenses.

Let’s look at exactly what progressive transition lenses are and how they work. We’ll also explore some of their pros and cons to help you decide if they’re right for you.

What Are Progressive Transition Lenses?

Progressive transition lenses: woman holding 2 pairs of eyeglasses

To understand what progressive transition lenses are, let’s start by breaking down those two terms: “progressive” and “transition.”

What Are Progressive Lenses?

If you have myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and/or astigmatism, your optician has probably recommended single-vision prescription lenses for you. As you get older though, there may come a point when these are no longer enough and you find yourself struggling to see objects that are close to you. For example, you may have to extend your arm to read a book or a message on your cell phone. This condition is known as presbyopia and it’s very common after the age of 40.

Luckily, it’s also easy to address with multifocal eyeglasses that include all your prescriptions. These help you to see clearly whether you’re looking close-up or far away.

Old-fashioned bifocals have a less-than-attractive hard line between the different portions of the lens, which each hold a different prescription. This separation also causes an image jump as you change your field of vision, which can be quite disconcerting.

Progressive lenses are the latest evolution of bifocal glasses. Also known as no-line multifocals, they allow a smooth transition between near and far vision. In fact, they’re more like trifocals as they also help you see clearly in the middle distance — something traditional bifocals didn’t do very well.

So if you need eyeglasses with multiple fields of vision, progressive lenses are the way to go.

What Are Transition Lenses?

Transition lenses are light intelligent lenses that react to different light conditions. As you move into bright light, they automatically darken — and the more light there is, the darker they become. When you return to normal light conditions, the tint lightens again until the lenses are almost clear.

When transition lenses were first invented around the 1960s, the lenses contained silver halide or silver chloride, which darkened in response to UV light. Nowadays, transition eyeglass lenses have a light-sensitive coating. This layer contains molecules that react to ultraviolet light (UV light) by changing their shape and structure. They can then absorb visible light, which causes the coating to darken.

So if you’re someone who moves indoors and out throughout the day, transition lenses can save you the hassle of carrying a pair of prescription sunglasses as well as your normal clear lenses.

Add these two types of lenses together and you have progressive transition lenses: one pair of glasses that deals with all your prescriptions as well as changing light levels. That’s convenience wrapped up in a pair of glasses.

Pros and Cons of Photochromic Lenses

Men wearing photochromic lenses

Progressive transition lenses — also called photochromic lenses — can be extremely handy but they’re not necessarily for everyone. Let’s look at some of their pros and cons to help you decide if they’re right for you.

Pros of Progressive Transition Lenses

Progressive transition lenses offer many benefits, for example:

  1. You only need one pair of glasses. So you won’t need to remember to put your second (or third) pair in your bag or scrabble around to change your glasses as you step outside or when you want to send a text message on the go.

  2. Progressive transition lenses provide your eyes with excellent UV protection from the sun, reducing both UVA and UVB rays. This means your eyes are less likely to suffer damage from the sun.

  3. Although a pair of progressive transition lenses costs a bit more due to the technology involved in making them, they can also save you money because you only need to buy one pair of glasses at a time.

Cons of Progressive Transition Lenses

There are a few things you need to be aware of before you invest in progressive transition lenses:

  1. It can take a while to get used to the different fields of vision of your progressive transition lenses, but if you give it some time, your brain and eyes will adjust.

  2. The color transition isn’t instant. Although it varies depending on the brand, on average, it takes the lenses about 30 seconds to darken and it can take up to 5 minutes for them to lighten again. Temperature can also affect the reaction time and tint. So if you need them to change very quickly — for example, if you’re extremely light sensitive — you may be better off with separate pairs of indoor glasses and sunglasses.

  3. Transition lenses are very light sensitive. Any exposure to UV rays will darken them — even on a cloudy day if enough UV light gets through. And if there isn’t enough UV light, they may not darken enough. For example, if your car windshield is designed to block UV light, your transition glasses won’t offer you much sun protection while you’re driving.

  4. The photochromic coating does wear out, so the older your transition lenses are, the less they will lighten and darken. That said, they’re generally good for about three years and you should be updating your prescription every one to two years for healthy eyes.

If you’re still unsure whether progressive transition lenses will work for you, consult your eye care professional for expert guidance.

Where to Get Progressive Transition Lenses

Women wearing photochromic lenses

So, assuming you’ve decided they’re for you, where can you get this magical combo of progressive transition lenses? Try Pair Eyewear for a quality pair of glasses that ticks all the clear vision boxes.

Pair also gives you plenty of options to style your pair of progressive transition lenses by adding a stylish and colorful Top Frame to your Base Frame. Match your Top Frame to your personality, your activities, or your outfit — you get to choose. Or pick more than one so you can change them up as your mood takes you.

You can also add extras like blue light filters that protect your eyes from harmful blue light emitted by devices like your computer or TV. Or if you need high-index lenses, try our premium-plus lenses for an ultra-thin, lightweight option.

Pair Eyewear frames are crafted from cellulose acetate and the lenses are made from scratch-resistant polycarbonate. That means they’re hard-wearing — and you can make them last even longer if you keep them safe in a glasses case.

For any questions, see our FAQ or contact us at [email protected].

Make Your Life Easier With Progressive Transition Lenses

If you need glasses with multiple prescriptions, progressive lenses are a great choice. And if you’re regularly moving between indoors and outdoors during your day, transition lenses will simplify the process by darkening and lightening in response to the ambient light. Add the two together, and progressive transition lenses may be your best solution for a hassle-free day.

Once you’ve considered the pros and cons and decided they’re for you, get your progressive transition lenses from Pair Eyewear. Our stylish glasses add clarity of vision, convenience, and style to your day — because you deserve all three.