Ask the average person for their take on light-reactive (photochromic) lenses and they’ll probably speak of ugly, yellow specs the size of side-by-side drive-in movie theater screens. Thankfully for those seeking stylish, prescription lenses that can keep up with their active lifestyle, this impression is more of an outdated stereotype than a reality nowadays.
Psychedelic Sixties through the Grunge-worthy Nineties
In the 1960s, the idea was born to create lenses that automatically darkened in sunlight and returned to clear indoors. However, lens technology was trailing the concept and the only option was to have them made of heavy glass with unsightly tinting. But photochromic lenses have evolved greatly since the days when Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin were making history at Woodstock.
By the time the Bee Gees were spreading contagious dance fever across the country, lens manufacturers were hard at work researching new ways to make light-reactive lenses more appealing to customers. Developers began unsuccessfully experimenting with photochromics in CR-39® plastic lenses, the popular choice in prescription eyewear at the time.
Moonwalking into the 1980s, the desire to make photochromics in plastic remained strong, but the lenses released at the time enjoyed about as much success as Betamax. Slow reaction times, insufficient darkening, and the infamous yellow tint didn’t exactly draw the masses to eye doctors nationwide in search of light-reactive glasses.
But that all changed in the 1990s when flannel was the thread of icons and grungy music lovers boasted of smelling like teen spirit. Photochromic technology vastly improved in the decade of Clinton, Power Rangers, and The Blair Witch, providing more lens material options, reduced darkening and fade back times, and an aesthetic finish that distanced the glasses from their unpopular, yellow predecessors.
The New Millennium and the Future
Fast forward to the 2000s. The photochromics of 2015 have changed more than Hannah Montana. Light-reactive lens enhancements like sunsync® from VSP® Optics Group now provide an ideal option for today’s on-the-go lifestyle. Darkening quickly in sunlight and fading fast indoors, sunsync’s advanced photochromic technology delivers comfort, clarity, and total UV protection whether heading in and out of the office, the store, or the back patio door. sunsync lenses are also available in a variety of lens materials, countless frame options, and attractive tints, meaning wearers no longer have to sacrifice style for comfort and protection.
While some may argue that certain things like the Star Wars movies would have been better left unaltered, it would be a struggle to find someone to argue in favor of the photochromic eyewear of yesteryear. Light-reactive lenses have markedly changed for the better since the 60s, best exemplified by sunsync’s optimal performance and aesthetic benefits.
The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only. Please consult your eye care doctor or physician for actual advice.