Transition glasses are far from new in the market but we bet you’ve never heard of Transition contact lenses.
Yes, these are now a thing.
Contact lenses that become darker in sunlight
The contact lenses will be made by Acuvue, which pairs their Oasys contact lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology. The product has already been cleared by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in a press statement released almost a month ago.
FDA describes it as being “the first contact lens to incorporate an additive that automatically darkens the lens when exposed to bright light.” This means exactly what you think it means – your contact lens will actually turn darker when you go into the sun.
They are not substitutes for UV-protective sunglasses
Sunglasses have long been a well-known part of a healthy sun protection regime – after all, your eyes aren’t immune to the UV rays from the sun.
The U.S. National Institute of Health recommends looking for sunglasses with certified UVA and UVB protection. This will help to prevent future eye problems like cataracts, macular degeneration, and abnormal tissue growths.
But we have to be clear that Transition contact lenses are not replacements for proper sunglasses with UV protection.
The U.S. FDA clearly states that the Transition contact lenses are “indicated for daily use to correct the vision of people with non-diseased eyes who are nearsighted (myopia) or farsighted (hyperopia)” – so they are meant to correct eyesight, just like any other contact lenses, except that they darken in sunlight. There was no mention by the FDA that the contact lenses are enough for UV protection.
Although a statement from Johnson & Johnson Vision, the parent company of ACUVUE, claims that the darkened contact lenses can “[filter] blue light and [block] UV rays“, they also made sure to add a disclaimer that they “are NOT substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear” like sunglasses, and that “clinical studies have not been done to demonstrate that wearing UV-blocking contact lenses reduces the risk of developing cataracts or other eye disorders”.
What can you use them for?
What does this mean for you? It means Transition contact lenses aren’t by any means a replacement for regular UV protection for eyes. However, they could help to make things a bit more comfortable on bright, sunny days here in Singapore with a darkened lens.
The concerns that some have had about the appearance of darkened lenses may not be that big of a deal for Singaporeans here, since most of us have natural dark brown irises which would camouflage darkened lenses – we imagine that it wouldn’t be much difference from wearing your regular circle lenses.
Johnson & Johnson Vision says the contact lenses will not be available until some time in early 2019.
Update (27 Sep 2019): ACUVUE has recently announced the launch of the OASYS Contact Lenses with Transitions. These lenses are available in two-week contact lenses in six lenses per box and are said to offer the highest level of UV protection available in a contact lens.
The technology allows the lenses to adapt to balance the amount of indoor and outdoor light entering the eyes, including filtering blue light and blocking harmful UV rays. What this means is that wearers will get to enjoy better vision regardless of environments and more comfort of wear.
The new ACUVUE OASYS Contact Lenses with Transitions are available at all authorised stores.