More and more eyewear customers are choosing self-tinting lenses.
The upward demand trend in favour of photochromics is expected to continue in North America until at least the end of this decade, according to a recent study by the global marketing firm Research and Markets.
The report, Global Photochromic Lenses Market 2015-2019, says the market is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 7.6% over the next four years.
While there are several reasons cited for this expected rise, such as an aging demographic and more awareness of the potentially dangerous effects to the eyes of prolonged sunlight exposure, the study says rapid advances in photochromic technology is primarily responsible for the boost in market growth.
In Canada, like the lenses themselves – which change from clear to dark when exposed to ultra-violet light – the types and varieties of photochromic options available are also changing.
Transitions Optical, the leading provider of photochromics to optical manufacturers, recently expanded the availability of both its Transitions Signature and Transitions XTRActive lenses to include grey, brown and graphite green tints.
“In addition to offering more colour options to suit a wider range of style preferences, the brown and green colours enhance contrast,” says Isabelle Tremblay-Dawson, senior marketing manager, Canada, for Transitions Optical.
She says a recent study found that nearly six out of 10 Canadians believe the colour of a lens has more to do with style than function.
“Yet 90 per cent of Canadians said they would be willing to try a specific lens colour if they knew it could enhance their vision,” she says.
“There is a technology education opportunity here that more eyecare professionals should be aware of.”
Transitions Optical, which was founded 23 years ago, says every second of the day, a person decides to buy Transitions adaptive lenses somewhere in the world.
Transitions Signature lenses are developed with a patented Chromea7 technology, an exclusive dye formulation that allows the lenses to be more reactive to indirect sunlight and reflected sunlight and become even darker on hot days.
“Transitions Signature lenses are ideal for patients who are interested in outdoor comfort and value fully clear lenses indoors,” says Tremblay-Dawson.
The company says eight out of 10 clear lens wearers rated Transitions Signature lenses better than their regular clear lenses during live testing.
Transitions XTRActive lenses, introduced in 2010, are perfect for patients who spend more time outdoors. They also achieve up to a Category 2 darkness behind a vehicle’s windshield to protect eyes from sunlight while driving and maintain a comfortable hint of tint indoors to shield the eyes from the effects of harsh indoor lighting.
“There is so much opportunity with Transitions XTRActive lenses. One of the reasons is that the product overcomes some of the objections as to why eyecare professionals don’t always recommend Transitions lenses, which includes performance behind the windshield and darkness,” says John Ligas, Transitions Optical’s vice-president, research and development.
Transitions Optical also offers Drivewear sun lenses that adjust to light and weather conditions while a person is behind the wheel.
Transitions adaptive sunglasses, meanwhile, adjust their level of tint as sunlight changes to enhance a person’s vision while participating in indoor sports and activities.
There are also goggles and face shields built with Transitions technology.
Earlier this year, Transitions Optical and SHOEI Safety Helmet Corp. announced a partnership to offer an adaptive face shield that seamlessly adjusts to outdoor light and weather conditions. The SHOEI Transitions CWR-1 adaptive face shield fits SHOEI’s top-selling full-face helmet, the RF-1200.
Other companies are also expanding or improving their offerings of light-responsive lenses.
Vision Ease announced in August that it has expanded its line of photochromics with LifeRx FSV Vivid AR.
The polycarbonate lenses are coated with Vision Ease’s Vivid AR, for unparalleled clarity and cleanability.
“LifeRx lenses are recognized for their lightweight comfort and superior photochromic performance. LifeRx FSV AR lenses offer these qualities with the additional benefit of diminishing glare and reflections thanks to Vivid AR. The super-hydrophobic coating reduces distortion by allowing liquid to run off without streaking, and is highly scratch-resistant, anti-static and oleophobic to repel the daily grime that dirties lenses.
The lenses are available in grey and brown.
Rodenstock, meanwhile, has launched its ColorMatic IQ Sun product lenses in Canada. The lenses have a basic tint of 55 per cent and darken to a maximum of 90 per cent, depending on the intensity of the sunlight.
“ColorMatic IQ Sun equally appeals to spectacles wearers who are athletically active as well as fashion enthusiasts and makes that unpopular changing of spectacles on sunny days unnecessary.”
The lenses come in three fashion colours – brown, green and grey – as well as contrast brown, which allows people to recognize fine details in nature or in traffic. The lenses are also available in an optional “silver moon” mirror coating.
Centennial Optical also has its own house brand of photochromics, called Centoptic SunChangers. The company’s lenses, CHOICE HD, CHOICE Freedom HD, CHOICE Office HD and CHOICE Single Vision HD, are each available in SunChangers.
“Centoptic SunChangers provide an affordable alternative for patients who want good photochromic lens performance as well as good value,” says Rick Leroux, director of marketing and communications for Centennial Optical Ltd.’s lens division.