Can I Get Transition Lenses in High Index Lenses?

They are two technologies that have revolutionized modern eyewear, and often lead the list of desirable options when selecting a pair of prescription eyeglasses: transition lenses and high index lenses. So can they be combined? The short answer is yes, with limitations. Let’s start by defining the two technologies.

High Index Lenses with Transition Lenses?

Transition (or photochromic) lenses automatically darken when exposed to the UV light of the sun and revert back to clear at night or indoors. They are essentially a combination of prescription eyeglasses and prescription sunglasses, and the use of transition lenses virtually eliminates the need to purchase, keep handy, and swap between regular glasses and sunglasses. While they do possess some drawbacks – not getting as dark as some sunglasses, for example, or not darkening inside the already UV-protected windshield of a car – the convenience of transition lenses makes them a popular item.

High index lenses are made of either glass or plastic but are formulated from a chemically-developed, high index material as opposed to standard glass or plastic lenses. With high index lenses, stronger prescriptions can be cut using less overall material. This reduces both the weight and the thickness of the lens, allowing the wearer to choose from a variety of frame options that otherwise would not be feasible with thick, heavy, standard-glass or –plastic lenses. High index lenses also reduce the distortion that lends stronger prescription lenses a magnified “bug eye” or “tiny eye” appearance.

Photochromic lenses are made by coating plastic or formulating glass with a permanent layer of molecules that react to ultraviolet light. That coating process is fully compatible with plastic high index lenses but cannot be applied to glass high index lenses. The choice of high index glass or high index plastic is fairly dependant on the prescription being cut; certain stronger prescriptions are only available in high index glass, which disqualifies them from the photochromic coating.

The following high index ratings are made of plastic and can be ordered with a photochromic layer:

  • 1.56
  • 1.60
  • 1.67
  • 1.74

Higher ratings, such as those listed below, require the use of glass high index material and cannot be ordered with a photochromic layer:

Shop High Index Glasses

To summarize, your ability to order a high index lenses coupled with a transition coating is limited by the strength of your prescription. Many prescriptions are mild enough to be cut from either standard glass/plastic or high index plastic and can be combined with a photochromic coating. Those prescriptions that require a high index material rating of 1.80 or above also require the use of glass high index material, thus are exempt from a transition coating.

Guide to High Index Lenses

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