Which Photochromic Lenses Should I Get?

  • BY Matthew Surrence

photochromic vs transition lenses

If you wear prescription glasses and are constantly finding yourself leaving your sunglasses at home, or misplacing them, photochromic lenses may be a great option for you. 

What Are Photochromic Lenses?

Photochromic lenses are clear indoors and darken automatically in sunlight, for convenient, two-in-one glasses and sunglasses. We offer the following photochromic lenses: Zenni photochromic lenses, Blokz™ photochromic blue blocker lenses, Transitions®, and Vision Ease LifeRx® photochromic lenses. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions that we receive from customers around photochromic lenses. Read on to learn more and determine which type of photochromic lens will best fit your specific needs.

What’s the difference between polycarbonate photochromic lenses and regular photochromic lenses?

Polycarbonate photochromic lenses are more impact-resistant than regular photochromic lenses. The Vision Ease LifeRx® polycarbonate photochromic lenses are a good choice for rimless glasses and kids.

How long does it take for the photochromic lenses to transition between clear and tinted?

Transitions® VII photochromic lenses only take between 35 seconds to one minute to fully darken, while Zenni and Vision East LifeRx® photochromic lenses take on average a couple of minutes.

Do all photochromic lenses darken the same?

It’s important to note that all photochromic lenses typically do not darken inside cars because of the UV protection on windshields and windows. Here at Zenni, we tested all the photochromic lenses that offer in our optics lab and found:

  • Transitions® VII photochromic lenses get a little darker than the Zenni photochromic lenses, and up to 25% darker than the Vision Ease LifeRx® polycarbonate photochromic lenses. These darkness levels may change depending on weather or temperature.
  • Transitions® VII gray and brown photochromics darken anywhere from 60%-80% in bright sunlight. 
  • Zenni brand gray and brown photochromic lenses and Zenni Blokz™ Photochromic gray lenses darken anywhere from 50%-70% in bright sunlight.
  • Vision Ease LifeRx® polycarbonate photochromic lenses in gray and brown darken to around 35-55% in bright sunlight.

What’s the added benefit of Zenni Blokz photochromic lenses?

Zenni Blokz™ photochromic lenses are a convenient all-in-one solution for people that want the protection of blue blocker lenses for indoors and outdoors.

How much do photochromic lenses cost?

For single vision lenses, Zenni photochromic lenses range from $29.00-$59.95, depending on the lens index and any add-ons you may select. Vision Ease LifeRx® polycarbonate photochromic lenses cost $66.00, and Transitions® VII photochromic lenses range from $69.00-$169.00, depending on the lens index. There is also an additional cost for progressive lenses.

What lens index is available for each type of photochromic lens?

  • Zenni photochromic lenses are available in 1.61.
  • Zenni Blokz™ Photochromic lenses are available in 1.61 and 1.67
  • Vision Ease LifeRx® photochromic lenses are available in 1.59 (polycarbonate)
  • Transitions® VII are available in 1.50, 1.61, and 1.67.

What colors are offered in photochromic lenses?

Zenni photochromic (also for bifocals)
Zenni Blokz™ photochromic
Transitions® VII (index 1.50/1.61/1.67)

Zenni photochromic 

Vision Ease LifeRx® polycarbonate photochromic
Transitions® VII (index 1.50)

Photochromic lenses darken in bright sunlight, so their color hue and depth will change depending on sunlight conditions. Some photochromics may appear to have a slight base tint, or may develop one after prolonged use.

Are photochromic lenses available for progressive and bifocals?

Standard progressives can be ordered with any photochromic lens (workspace progressives do not offer photochromic lenses). For bifocals, only the 1.57 Zenni photochromic lenses are available.

Learn more about Zenni’s range of customizable prescription sunglasses.