There’s a lens solution for nearly any vision need, from bifocals to progressive or transition lenses. Most lenses have pros and cons, but whether they’re right for you depends on your vision needs. 

Transition lenses are a common lens type regardless of your prescription because they offer additional protection for your eyes. If you’re in the market for new lenses, consider the pros and cons of transition lenses to decide whether they may be good for you.

What Are Transition Lenses?

What Are Transition Lenses?

Transition lenses, also known as photochromic lenses, are designed to darken when exposed to sunlight and ultraviolet (UV) rays. When worn indoors, the lenses remain clear. When you wear the lenses outdoors, the molecules in the lenses darken and adjust to the level of light and UV rays in your environment. So, transition lenses will still darken on overcast days depending on the UV and light intensity, but they may not darken completely like they would in full sun. 

Transition lenses can be convenient and offer several benefits, though they also have a few potential downsides. Regardless, transition lenses are a popular choice.

Benefits of Transition Lenses

Benefits of Transition Lenses

Transition lenses let you experience the world and discover new sights with correct and protected eyesight. Learn some of the benefits of transition lenses to find out why you may want a pair.


Depending on your vision needs, a single pair of prescription glasses can easily range from $100 to over $1,000. After purchasing prescription lenses, many people also need a pair of prescription sunglasses to wear when it’s bright, which can cost another few hundred dollars. In other words, paying for multiple pairs of glasses can get expensive quickly, especially depending on what your vision benefits cover. 

While transition lenses may cost a bit more than your standard lenses, they can be more cost-effective in the long run. Transition lenses are both prescription glasses and sunglasses in one. So, you pay less for a two-in-one pair instead of spending a significant amount on two separate pairs of glasses. 

The savings are especially important for those with prescriptions that often change, as you’d be buying several pairs of glasses regularly.

Eye Protection

Transition lenses offer effective eye protection from UV rays and blue light. You may already know how damaging UV rays can be for your skin, but have you considered the damage they cause to your eyes? UV rays age and damage the eye’s structures, causing decreased vision, cataracts, corneal damage, macular degeneration and other concerns. Transition lenses help filter out harmful UV rays, even on cloudy days when UV rays still penetrate the clouds. 

You can also use these lenses as blue light glasses because they filter out blue light from digital devices like phones and computer screens. Blue light is a common source of eye strain, especially for those who spend long hours in front of a screen. Transition glasses help protect your eyes from blue light, even when the lenses aren’t dark.


These lenses offer a lot of convenience. Rather than carrying around your standard glasses and a pair of sunglasses and switching between them, you only have to worry about one pair of glasses. The convenience of transition lenses can be especially helpful for people who spend a lot of time bustling around and going from place to place. 

If you’re running errands and going in and out of stores, you’d have to switch your glasses every time you walk in or out of a building. Instead, use transition lenses, which adjust automatically to the light as you enter and exit buildings, saving you a lot of time and frustration.

Reduced Risk of Losing Glasses

Carrying two pairs of glasses and repeatedly switching between the two increases the likelihood of a pair getting lost. The constant switching between glasses and running from location to location could lead to one of your pairs getting misplaced. Losing a pair of glasses is inconvenient, costly and stressful. 

Having transition lenses reduces the risk of losing glasses. Since a transitional pair automatically adjusts to the light as you move between environments, there’s no need to take them off to switch between pairs, reducing the likelihood of them being misplaced. 

This aspect of transition lenses can be extremely beneficial for kids. For example, switching glasses at school for recess can easily result in a missing pair of glasses. Transition lenses eliminate the need for kids to keep track of multiple glasses when they’re endlessly on the go.

Various Options Available

Many people use their glasses to add to or compliment their style. Transition lenses come in various colors, shades and styles, allowing you to still find a pair that matches your fashion sense. Many transition lenses are available in green, brown, gray and other colors. You can also typically choose the level of tint density based on your needs or preferences. 

Various types of lenses can also be transitional, including bifocals and multifocal lenses. Transition lenses can even be put in various frames, allowing you to control the style options and choose a pair of transitional glasses that best suits you.

Problems With Transition Lenses

Problems With Transition Lenses

While transition lenses offer a wide range of benefits, you may also encounter a few problems with them. Whether you consider these potential cons deal-breakers is up to personal preference. Here are a few problems you might have when wearing transition lenses.

Brand Differences

A common challenge with transition lenses is the vast differences between brands. Transition lenses from one brand can vary significantly from the next, making it difficult to find a transition lens that works best for you. 

Brands may have different adjustment times or offer different tint levels. This can cause frustration, especially when switching between different transitional lens brands. Consult with an eye doctor or lens professional to determine what transition lenses may work best for your eyes.

Ineffectiveness in Cars

Transition lenses react to UV rays, which cause the lenses to darken. Since many windshields are designed to block most UV rays, most transition lenses tend to be ineffective in cars. When you wear some types of transition lenses in vehicles, they receive little to no UV rays, preventing them from transitioning to darker shades. 

The ineffectiveness of many transition lenses in cars can be a big inconvenience, especially if you have sensitive eyes and need shades to comfortably see in bright light. In this case, you still may need a second pair of prescription sunglasses to shade your eyes and adequately see when driving. Or, you can look for transition lenses that are made to work behind the windshield.

Slower Transitions in Cold Weather

Most things move slower when it’s cold, and the same can often be said of transition lenses. Some transition lenses may take longer to adjust and darken in colder weather. When the weather is cold, the molecules in your lenses move slower than when it’s warm, causing them to transition more slowly.

You might notice slower transitions when coming inside after being outside in the cold. Exposure to cold air, especially after long periods, can significantly slow the reaction time of your lenses. 

No Polarization

A big reason you may wear sunglasses is that many shades are polarized. Polarized lenses have a reflective coating that shields the eyes from harsh sun glares. Polarization is especially helpful when looking at other reflective surfaces like water or snow. Many transition lenses lack polarization. While these lenses can shade your eyes from bright light, some can’t reflect glares. 

This may not be too much of a downside if you don’t normally wear polarized sunglasses. But if you have sensitive eyes, you may have to choose transition lenses that offer polarization.

Adjustment Time

Another thing to keep in mind is that transition lenses adjust gradually. Rather than turning instantly dark in the sunlight or instantly clear indoors, transition lenses have an adjustment time that can vary based on several factors, including the lens brand and temperature. 

The transition time can be a bit inconvenient or annoying. When you come inside after being outdoors on a bright, sunny day, your glasses may be at their darkest tint, making it hard to see right when you go back inside. You may have to wait a bit for your glasses to transition back to clear. 

Transition Lenses FAQ

Whether you’re looking for your first pair of transition lenses or a new pair, you may have other questions about this type of lens and what you should look for. Here are the answers to common questions surrounding transition lenses.

What Is the Difference Between Progressive Lenses and Transition Lenses?

Progressive lenses are a type of corrective lens with multiple values in a single lens. Progressive lenses allow you to have close-up and distance values in the same pair of glasses. Transition glasses don’t necessarily have a prescription value because they’re light-sensitive. However, progressive lens prescriptions can be put on transition lenses so you have the prescription values and the automatic tint adjustment. 

What Color Transition Lenses Should You Get?

The color of your transition lenses is ultimately up to personal preference and what look you want. The most common transition lens colors are gray, brown and green. Some brands may offer other colors like amber, amethyst, sapphire and emerald. Depending on the color of your lens, you’ll likely have different tint levels. For example, if you’re looking for the darkest tint, you may opt for gray lenses.

How Long Does It Take to Activate Transition Lenses?

Various factors affect how long it takes for transition lenses to adjust to the surrounding environment, including lens brand and temperature. Some transition lenses can activate within 30 seconds or less, while others may take a few minutes to transition completely from clear to dark or vice versa. Some brands offer transition lenses that activate and fully transition faster than ever. 

Transitions® Signature® GEN 8™ lenses from Lensabl can transition back to clear three minutes faster than other lenses. Consider the transition time when looking at your lens options to determine the best transition lenses for your vision needs.

Who Should Wear Transition Lenses?

Transition lenses are for all glasses wearers. You can get any prescription with transition lenses, making them a great option if you want the convenience of eye protection and prescription in one pair of glasses. Transition lenses are an option for everyone, from adults to children or anyone with special eye care needs. With various transition colors and styles and more lens options than ever, you’re sure to find transition lenses that match your style preferences and vision needs.

Transition lenses can be especially beneficial if you have a sensitivity to light. Transition lenses start shielding your eyes from the bright sun and harmful UV rays as soon as the rays hit your glasses. Anytime your glasses are exposed to UV light, your eyes will be protected with transition lenses.

Are Transition Lenses Good for Driving?

Whether your transition lenses are good for driving ultimately depends on the brand of lenses you get. Most transition lenses won’t activate when you’re driving because many of today’s cars are equipped with UV-blocking windshields. Since your windshield may be blocking out UV rays that transition lenses need to activate, the lenses may not darken in your vehicle. While you’ll still have your prescription, you may need other shades for driving.

However, a pair of Transitions® Drivewear® lenses from Lensabl can adjust to light and UV ray exposure through a windshield or outdoors. These unique lenses are even polarized to help remove glare while driving. If you’re driving, you need a reliable pair of transition lenses to shade your eyes, even when your windshield is blocking UV light. 

Shop Transition Lenses From Lensabl

Shop Transition Lenses From Lensabl

Finding the right lenses and frames for your vision needs doesn’t have to be challenging. At Lensabl, we’re a one-stop shop for all things optical, online and from the comfort of your home. We make exploring your lens options straightforward. We specialize in lens replacements, which involve putting our lenses in the frames you already have. If you’re looking for new transition lenses, pick from our various options online, send us your current frames or shop for new frames, and we’ll replace the lenses with your transitions.

We offer various lines of transition lenses that can activate behind a windshield and have mirrored or polarized coating. To learn more about our transition lenses and other products and services, explore your options online.