Should I get Transition lenses?

I need new glasses and since I have money to burn, I was wondering about getting Transitions lenses.

  1. Are they any good?
  2. How long to the take to change from clear to sunglasses and back?
  3. Do they become less effective over time? If so, about how long before they stop being effective?

Any experience or advice would be appreciated.

I got some from Costco. They worked fine, but I wouldn’t recommend the rimless style; over time, the coating began to wear off around the edges. Frames with rims would probably work better.

Then I found a local optician with cheap, interesting frames. Now I have three pairs of regular glasses & three for the sun!

I have them and I hate them.

They work great outside, though I’m not in love with how they look when they’re transitioned. My biggest complaint is with how long they take to change back when I go back inside. In the warmer months its not terrible but when it’s cold out, they can take 10 minutes or so to transition back and it’s a pain in the ass.

I love mine. Wouldn’t go back to regular lenses for anything. They transition very quickly, and you get used to things being a little darker than normal when you walk into the house (for a few seconds). My only “complaint” is that I still need sunglasses for sunny days because the transition lenses don’t get dark enough for really bright sun. They cut it down some, but not enough.

I really like mine. I haven’t noticed them taking especially long to undarken when going inside; there may be differences in quality that account for the timing. The only downside is that they don’t get as dark as real sunglasses, so if you need real protection from bright sunlight, they probably will not be sufficient.

Also, remember that photochromic lenses respond to UV light, so they won’t work in, say, a greenhouse, where the glass windows filter UV. If you drive, they won’t work in the car because the windshield filters UV, so you may want separate sunglasses for the car.

  1. I like them, since they stop me from losing prescription sunglasses and they get plenty dark enough for most situations I’ve found myself in.

  2. I never noticed how long it takes them to darken. It seems to be pretty fast. Bob Ducca’s right about them taking a while to change back when it’s cold, which is slightly annoying but only slightly to me.

  3. I had my old ones for nearly 7 years and the color change still works fine. In fact I still use them to do yardwork and stuff where I don’t need to see perfectly and I don’t want to risk scratching or breaking the new ones.

Takes too long to switch back. Also don’t change when I’m driving car unless I have sunroof open. Driving isain reason I need sunglasses and my script is too expensive and insurance too stingy to have two pairs. So no. I wouldn’t do it next time. I’ve had mine less than a year.

I had them about 6 years ago, I would never go back. I felt as if they began to tint permanently, over time the quality lessened. I didn’t like that once I used normal lenses, I wasn’t used to the sun when I would step outside temporarily. This is the same reason I do not use prescription sunglasses; I would rather just use sunglasses and contacts as a combination. Perhaps the technology has improved since then, or my memory is fuzzy, but I wouldn’t go back to them even if they were free.

Current Transitions lenses work faster and last longer than even those on the market 5 years ago. As long as you don’t live in a chest freezer the photochromic function will probably outlast the frame.


I don’t have them, but like diggerwam the main reason I’d want them is for driving and I’m told they won’t color-change enough to help there.

They won’t color change at all there. Auto glass is dense enough to block all UV.

These are the reasons I’ll never have them again, either. Just give me a good old pair of sunglasses (or clip-ons).

I’ve had them and don’t care for them. Where I would most want to have sunglasses, in the car, they don’t work. So, I ended up having to buy prescription sunglasses anyway. They also don’t get really dark enough to be useful at the beach or on sunny winter days.
With places like Zenni optical around, it’s actually cheaper just to get a few pairs of prescription sunglasses made on less expensive frames and keep one pair in the car, one pair in my man purse, and one pair in my motorcycle’s tank bag.

I love them (and mine are rimless and they last forever and have not changed with age).

The main drawback is that they are not polarized. So for really long drives, regular polarized sunglasses would be better, and I have an old pair I can use for that. However, the drawback of driving glasses is that I cannot read directions, count change, or clearly see things inside the car because I need a different prescription for that.

One other minor drawback is that if I go from a very sunny outside place to a dark inside place, it takes a few minutes to adjust. Not a prohibitively long time, but it does take a few minutes in those conditions.

Another minor drawback is that once in a while, if the sun is coming from a certain angle, sometimes it seems there is a little bit of glare on the inside of the lenses, making it a little hard to see. This only happens once in a great while.

The alternative would be to use progressive lenses and separate sunglasses. Putting sunglasses on and off throughout the day, and putting the opposite pair of glasses in a case, was a big headache.

The transitions are so easy. I never have to remember to bring my sunglasses along, or fumble around changing glasses, or looking around for where I left my glasses, because I wear the same pair all day. They are rimless and have been very sturdy. I’ve had no problems at all with them physically.

If I had a glob of spare cash like you mentioned, I’d prefer to have three pairs of prescription glasses: one that’s darkly tinted & polarized for driving, one that’s clear for indoor work, and one that’s tinted gray for when I get a headache (and for driving on bright, cloudy days). Transitions are really expensive, and you are dependent on the lenses to change themselves. I’d rather just keep multiple pairs and switch them when *I *want to, instead of when the lenses want to.

FTR, I’ve heard (just a rumor, never owned a pair myself) that they can have issues in vehicles because they may not get dark enough when some of the UV is filtered out by the windshield glass.

I personally had to start getting glasses in my late teens, a few years after I started driving. I got transitions lenses cause they were all the rage (or something) at the time, the cost was ultimately cheaper for 1 pair vs 2 and I had a tendency to misplace sunglasses. This would have been late 90’s. I am nearsighted, but not horrifically and mostly need glasses while driving to read road signs and the like.

I did a few pairs of glasses over the years with transitions, but gave them up about 2-3 years ago because they do not darken when driving, and that was really starting to bother me. I’ve switched to a two-pair system and I’m much happier. I also haven’t misplaced them yet.

Plus, this gave me the opportunity to finally get that pair of Oakleys I always wanted :).

My suggestion - if you do a lot of driving, they won’t change appropriately and that will get annoying. If you’re more getting them for a lot of outside activities, they may work fine.

Here is a VERY critical item that you MUST know about these lenses:

(do I have your attention?)

If your eyes are essentially equal in vision correction, Transitions will work for you. It’s a personal preference, some say they don’t get dark enough outside, others say they don’t lighten completely indoors. You have to try it and see for yourself.


If you need two VERY different prescriptions for each eye, don’t waste your money. Look at the glasses you are wearing now. Is one lens noticeably thicker than the other?

Here’s the deal: When the lenses were first developed, the “transitioning” was a coating on the lenses. Now it is actually particles which are suspended in the lens itself.

This means thicker lenses have more particles, so they get DARKER than thinner lenses. You, on the inside of the glasses, won’t really be able to tell the difference.

People looking AT you are going to see one lens darker than the other. And it looks WEIRD.

Opticians have a lot of unhappy people bringing back their Transitions glasses and saying, “Forget it.” It’s to the point now that if someone is in this situation and wants to get Transitions, the optician will say, “Yeah, I can do that for you, but you won’t like it.”

I think being rimless is causing this.

And are you sure about the ‘not polarized’ part? I wore them decades ago and could’ve sworn they were.

There are photochromic polarized sun lenses (though there weren’t decades ago) but there are no polarized Transitions (it’s a trademark)- that is, clear to dark, rather than dark to darker- lenses.

That’s a swell idea but even someone with gobs of cash would run out of money pretty quickly if they need a new prescription every few years!

I can’t function w/o my glasses and can’t afford prescription sunglasses (I have a new prescription every 2 years or so) so I just got these Cocoons which go over your glasses and look pretty awesome. I have big clunky frames like all the nerds wear these days and you can’t even see them under the Cocoons.