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Transition lenses in eyeglasses have been around for many years now. The mechanics behind transition lenses is that certain chemicals in the lens interact with UV light from the sun and turn the lenses dark when you go outside and back to clear when you go inside.

This is a great accompaniment to sunglasses, as it is not always convenient to be carrying around multiple pairs of glasses with you, especially when going from inside to outside frequently. However, there are some drawbacks to transitions, including the fact that they don’t get as dark as sunglasses, have some difficulty turning dark in the car, and have a tendency to keep a slight constant tint even in dark conditions.

Vistakon, the optical wing of Johnson & Johnson, has come out with the first transition contact lens. Acuvue Oasys Transitions hit the market recently and while it is still brand-new technology, preliminary results have been generally positive.

Just a couple personal thoughts: It looks a little strange. The material itself turns a dark shade of grey and therefore the person is walking around with eyes that look black. On the plus side, though, this would be good for people limited by high prescriptions and who have difficulty with peripheral vision and glasses, yet still want the transition technology. On the other hand, wearing clear contact lenses with sunglasses would provide better sun coverage with the ability to remove the sunglasses when desired.

There is one other area where transition contacts might become very useful and that is in outdoor sports.  For any athlete who is playing an outdoor sport where the lighting conditions may change from day to day or even within a single game or event, these contacts may significantly improve the ability to perform. This is especially true in any sport where there may be significant contact or rapid head movement that can make it difficult to compete in sunglasses.  

While in its infancy, transition contact lenses look to be a promising technology.

Article contributed by Dr. Jonathan Gerard

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