The Ultimate Guide to Photochromic Lenses

There's nothing more annoying than walking from the sunny outdoors into a dark workshop and going totally blind because you forgot to take your sunglasses off. And then, when it's time to hit the assembly line or the grinder, you have to hunt down your "indoor" safety glasses -- only to head right back out into the sunny parking lot on a client call.

For the industry's hardest workers, owning multiple pairs of glasses can turn into a major headache. That’s why in the 1960s a new type of lens was created: the photochromic lens, which automatically adjusts to different levels of UV radiation and tints or un-tints itself as needed. These color-changing lenses are perfect for anyone who splits their time between bright and dark spaces and needs to stay fully protected 100% of the time. 

Now your most important frames are all in one! No more carrying around multiple pairs of frames and no more UV exposure catching you off guard. Let's take a closer look at what these unique lenses are all about!


What does photochromic mean?

The word photo means light and chromic means color. A photochromic material is one that undergoes a reversible change in color or tint, on exposure to a certain amount of ultraviolet radiation (UV).

Sometimes people think that as long as they don’t “look right at the sun,” their eyes will be fine, but that’s not true. UV exposure adds up over time. Anytime you are exposed to UV you increase your risk of developing a cataract or macular degeneration. Photochromic lenses are one excellent answer to the question, "How do I protect my eyes from UV radiation?" 


What are photochromic lenses?

A photochromic lens is an optical lens that darkens on exposure to ultraviolet radiation or “sunlight”. Then in the absence of sunlight, the lenses return to their clear state.


When do the lenses change?

The lenses will remain clear indoors or in the absence of UV and will then change color or become darker when outdoors or exposed to a certain amount of UV. In most cases, it takes about 30 seconds for the lenses to start to tint and a couple of minutes to change to the original color.

Our reviewers put it best! One says, "The photochromic lens are a nice touch for me because I use them for motorcycling and hated having to swap glasses at night."

Another reviewer loves the indoor/outdoor swap for long workdays. "I work in the auto industry and have to wear safety glasses all day long," they say. "[Photochromic lenses are] perfect for those times I have to be outside and need shades. Then when I come in, they lighten to clear so I can see perfectly and stay safe!"

We couldn't have put it better ourselves! 


What are photochromic lenses made of?

The most common photochromic lens materials are glass and polycarbonate sheets—which are shatterproof! (At least, so long as you don't run them over with your work truck. Not that we're speaking from experience or anything.)


Benefits of photochromic lenses:

  1. It's convenient and money-saving in the long run to only need to own one pair of frames instead of swapping every time you go in and outside.
  2. Photochromic lenses provides protection against UV.
  3. Photochromic glasses can help prevent eye problems and diseases such as degenerative blindness and cataracts.


Whether you work outdoors, spend a lot of time by the pool during the summer, or are just on the go, we suggest you invest in photochromic lenses—such as the TIGER Safety Photochromic frames—not only for the convenience but also to help protect your eyes. Shop our Photochromic Collection here, and keep those peepers protected!


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