Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Transitions Vantage: the New Polarized Photochromic Lens

Transitions® Vantage™ is a new product that offers what no other photochomic lens on the market does: a full-time wear lens that is clear indoors, and both dark and polarized outdoors. Other products exist that provide dark outdoor tint (Transitions XTRActive), or variable darkness polarized sunglasses (Transitions Performance Sunwear). The key bonus is in variable polarization that allows the lens to go from nearly clear and unpolarized indoors (excellent for all indoor and nighttime vision) to dark and polarized outdoors (best performance for outdoor vision). This is the first photochromic lens to maximize performance in all lighting conditions.

Where Transitions® Vantage™ is different is that the amount of polarization varies with the amount of light in the environment. All other polarized lenses have fixed polarization, meaning there is a minimum clarity they can achieve and that clarity is unsuitable for indoor or nighttime, and thus full time, wear. There is a myth out there that one can have clear polarized lenses, but that's physically impossible. If one uses the common metaphor and imagines polarizing filters as window blinds, the more the slats are closed the more effective the polarization, but also the darker the lens. Turn the slats to allow through more light and the polarizing effect is reduced. To allow full light through mean there is zero polarization. The fixed polarization of traditional polarized lenses is light fixed angle of window blind slats; no matter the amount of light hitting the lens, it will always polarize the same amount. The Vantage does change polarization, so as the light increases so does the polarization, like turning the slats on your window blinds when it gets bright and turning them back when it gets dark.

For consumers, why wouldn't you want it? It falls in the same niche as the XTRActive, meaning extra dark. This is great for many people, the only caveat being that it doesn't get 100% clear indoors; there is always a slight tint to them. They are not dark enough that the wearer will notice any affect on vision, and they are certainly clear enough for safe and perfect night vision. However, when one checks oneself out in the mirror there is a light but noticeable gray tint to the lenses. They also take longer to darken and especially return to light than the traditional Transitions, sometimes 5-10 minutes compared to the traditional lens' 1-2 minutes.

That's already the issue with XTRActive, and honestly straight-up 100% of my customers who I have put into the XTRActive have been happy with them, and most adore the extra darkness. I told every one if they don't like the extra dark lens, I will happily make them new lenses in the regular Transitions free of charge. Zero XTRActive customers have come back to take me up on that offer.

The only other reason is price. Like the premium polarized photochomic lenses that came before (e.g. Drivewear, which are 100% sunwear only, not for indoors like Vantage is), they add the premium of both photochromic and polarization.

The real benefit of the Vantage™ lens is simply in performance. Everyone wants clear vision indoors and at night and sharp darkened glare-reduced vision outdoors during the day. The fact is traditional photochromic lenses never gave us what we wanted. Indoor vision was good, but outdoor vision was always a meager substitute for real, dark, polarized sunglasses. We simply made do, like that friend we all have that buys those fantastic $8 clip-ons from Walmart. Was everything darker than without? Yes. Was the vision good? No. If you just squint all the time you'll get the same brightness reduction as those clip-ons, and that's free! If you are willing to settle for less and suffer inconveniences one can certainly get by with the old solutions, but if you just want it right then Vantage lenses are a great new option.

Transitions® Vantage™ are not the end-all-be-all one pair of everything lenses. There is no such thing as a single pair solution for all optical needs (soon as I find it, I'll let you know). They are not sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses are larger, with a fuller field of vision, wrap around the curvature of the face for maximal sun, wind, debris, and UV protection, ideally are flexible impact-resistance material and offer venting ports to retard steamed lenses when perspiring. Prescription sunglasses are still important for everyone, but Vantage lenses just upped the quality of photochromics.


  1. Just remember to bill for both polarization AND Transitions with VSP. :) We haven't sold any at my practice yet, so I don't have any actual wearer comments to add.

  2. I haven't dispensed any either, though I have intrigued a couple customers. Yes, definitely bill for both polarized and photochromic, otherwise you just gave it away.

    I've seen the lens and it's great. I would dispense it like I would XTRActive; as long as the slight indoor tint and the slower dark-to-light time is ok, it's an awesome lens.

    By discussing the different Transitions with my customers and determining what's right for them, I've managed 100% satisfaction with XTRActive. I imagine once we get rolling with Vantage it will be the same story.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. And speaking of VSP and Transitions, remember the 6-month satisfaction guarantee? Applies to Vantage as well. Convenient to have a new technology product immediately available through VSP.


  4. Comparing xtractive to vantage, which would fade back sooner? Which has less noticeable indoor tint? In warm weather? I always notice better vision with polarized lenses. Do vantage seem as dark as new signature lens?

  5. I am trying to decide it I would like vantage or xtractive instead of the standard ones. I find myself squinting a bit outside. I love my polarized sunglasses but the day to day, especially on summer weekends is when I wear my glasses I indoors and outside. Hate to plunk down money for lenses if I won't see a big improvement in the sun with vantage or xtractive. But the polarization sounds so cool as a feature. I think that polarized lenses allow more comfortable vision without having to be dark since they block the harsh glare more readily. What's your take with signature lens improvements compared to other options. Thanks

  6. really is too bad transitions group can't make an xtraactive that is also polarized.

  7. Photochromic lenses are good both for indoors and outdoors right?