Why I love these 'Transitions' contacts, even when they make my eyes look creepy (2023)

I step outside of my office on a sunny morning and the intense bright light makes me squint. Instead of reaching for my sunglasses like I always do, I wait a few seconds for my new contact lenses to adjust to the light. Within 30 seconds, the sunlight is less intense -- almost like I am wearing sunglasses, but not quite.

I've worn Acuvue Oasys contacts for 12 years, but for the past two weeks I swapped out my usual lenses for Acuvue's new Oasys with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology soft contact lenses, which adapt to different lighting conditions automatically. I'll bet you already know what Transition lenses are -- those glasses that turn dark in the sun and go back to clear when you step indoors.

Johnson & Johnson (which owns Acuvue) teamed up with Transitions Optical, the brand that created those color-changing lenses. After more than a decade of development and product testing, they debuted the contacts in the US in March. I tried them out to see how they worked.

Are they cool? Totally. Do they help you see better in the sun? Yep. Do they sometimes make me look like an alien from the X-Files and scare my friends? Definitely.

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How do Acuvue Oasys with Transitions lenses work?

These Acuvue contacts have Transitions' "Light Intelligent Technology" -- a photochromic additive -- mixed into the soft hydrogel material that creates the lens. When this photochromic additive is exposed to UV light or blue light from screens and lightbulbs, it darkens the lens to block UV radiation and excessive light waves, just like sunglasses do.

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The contacts adjust throughout your day to allow a consistent amount of light to reach your eye, whether you're in a dark theater or outside under the sun. When your eyes are exposed to UV light, the lenses take around 45 seconds to fully darken. Once you step inside, they go back to clear in about 90 seconds or less.

I should note that Acuvue's other contacts, and contact lenses from other brands -- such as Biotrue and Clariti -- also block UV radiation, but stay clear in all light.

What do they look like?

Throughout the day, the contacts change colors between clear and a deep, dark purple-brown. In bright, direct sunlight without sunglasses, the darkening effect is most pronounced. Most of the day, if you work in an office, you won't see much tint.

On my green-hazel colored eyes, these contacts turn a dark shade of purple-brown and entirely block out my iris's natural color. Like other soft contact lenses, these completely cover your pupil and iris, with a little overlap onto the rest of your eyeball. I have to admit, they give me a distinctly alien look that freaked out just about everyone I showed them to.

Why I love these 'Transitions' contacts, even when they make my eyes look creepy (2)

With filtered sunlight on a cloudy day, they will still adjust, just to a lighter shade of purplish brown. Even when I take them out at night, after the sun's gone down and I've been watching TV or fussing with my phone, they have a faint purple/brown tint as I put them in a case. By morning, they are nearly clear.

Who are these contacts for?

Johnson & Johnson created these lenses to help combat light sensitivity. Anyone who's gone outside on a bright day and immediately started squinting knows what that's like.

Charissa Lee, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care's director of professional education, told CNET that an Acuvue Transition lens "reduces disruption to vision due to bright light by up to 32% and continuously adapts from clear to dark and back, helping your eyes adjust to changing light better than they would on their own."

The Acuvue Transitions contacts might also benefit people who experience photophobia, which is brought on by a variety of conditions, including migraines and dry eye. For several days after I get a migraine, bright light is painful, focusing on a bright screen is hard and I'll get floaters in my vision. While these contact lenses cannot fix photophobia (which is a neurological issue), it can help make it easier to deal with the symptoms.

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Do they replace sunglasses?

Even though Acuvue Oasys with Transitions lenses reach their darkest shade in sunny conditions, they are not a replacement for sunglasses. While the lenses do block UV radiation, sunglasses are important because they help protect your entire eye and the skin around it from UV damage that can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, corneal sunburn and skin cancer.

They also don't get as dark as sunglasses and don't offer polarization, which significantly reduces glare. If you already wear sunglasses regularly, these contacts will help you squint less if you step outside on a bright day without them. But you'll still want to use sunglasses to block additional light so it's easier to see. Plus, if your sunglasses block UV rays (which they should!) the contacts won't reach their full darkness, which minimizes the "alien" look.

Regardless if you wear sunglasses daily or not, you should know that, just like Transition lenses in eyeglasses, these contacts won't get darker when you're driving because car windshields block the UV rays from the sun that cause the lenses to react.

Why I love these 'Transitions' contacts, even when they make my eyes look creepy (3)

There are a few situations where I do feel like these contacts are a better alternative to sunglasses. First is the golden hour, just before the sun sets, when wearing sunglasses makes your vision too dark, but it's still too bright to not wear them at all. The same goes for overcast, foggy mornings, which are extremely common in San Francisco where I live, work and tested the lenses. With an overcast sky, the filtered sunlight is bright enough to bother my eyes, but if I put on sunglasses my vision seems too dark.

How can you try them?

If you don't already wear contacts, your first step is to get an eye exam to get a contact lens prescription. If you already have a valid prescription, ask your doctor to get a trial pair of the Acuvue Oasys with Transitions, which should be free. You can also search on Acuvue's website to find doctors in your area that already have the Transitions lenses available to try.

For this story, I called my doctor's office (which also sells contacts and glasses onsite) and they ordered me a free trial pair. I picked them up and was told if I liked the lenses and wanted to switch to them, my doctor could write me a prescription for those specific lenses. Then I could buy full boxes, either there or anywhere else that sells contacts.

Of course, every doctor's office or optometry clinic might handle this differently. I had just gotten an eye exam and a new prescription only a couple of months before this experiment, so the process was painless.

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Are they more expensive than other contacts?

Not necessarily. Contacts vary wildly in price depending on the brand and where you buy them. Acuvue's rep told me that each doctor, optical retailer or online vision stores sets prices for the contacts they sell, so there's no one set price.

The most common price I can find for a box of six Acuvue Oasys with Transitions lenses is $55(or $9 per lens), but you can find them for under $50 at various online optical stores.

Why I love these 'Transitions' contacts, even when they make my eyes look creepy (4)

I currently wear Acuvue Oasys with Hydraclear Plus lenses, which are currently only sold in a 12 or 24 pack. Twelve-pack boxes online are priced around $35 to $70, depending on the retailer. All of these prices are out-of-pocket, without insurance.

If you're really keen to wear Acuvue Oasys with Transitions, crunch the numbers and see how their cost compares to what you currently wear. Since I can get a 12-pack of my current contacts for $34 ($2.83 per lens), I would save a lot by not making the switch.

So, will I keep wearing them?

Like my other Acuvue lenses, these Oasys with Transitions are meant to be worn daily for two weeks before you toss them for another pair. During the two weeks I tested these lenses, I felt conflicted.

I was blown away by how well they worked -- my light-sensitive eyes felt less strained and I wasn't as bothered by bright light. But, I was also discouraged by my friends' and colleagues' reaction to how the full darkened lenses looked in my eyes (when I purposely wore them outside without sunglasses). I can only be called a creepy alien so many times before the comment starts to sting.

On the last day of wearing the Transition lenses, I had concluded they weren't useful enough for me to use them going forward. That is, until the next day.

I popped in a fresh pair of my usual contacts and headed out the door. As I walked towards my bus stop, I quickly realized how much the Transition lenses helped my eyes adjust to sunlight, especially on a foggy morning. And when I got to my office -- in sunny downtown SF -- the sunlight bouncing off the buildings and through the massive window next to my desk was more blinding and less tolerable than it had been with the Transitions lenses. Even staring at a computer screen, which is tough on my eyes and gives me occasional bouts of blurry vision, was a bit better with the Transitions contacts.

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As I write this, it's been one week since I ditched the Transitions and I already miss them. So much so that once I make it through my current stash of "regular" lenses, I plan to make the switch back.

Update on September 4, 2019: After using my original contact lenses for a few weeks, I ponied up the money for a year supply of the Transitions contacts. I went from being super skeptical and kind of weirded out by how they made me eyes look, to a convert who cashed out some of her FSA to get them.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Why do my contacts make my eyes look weird? ›

Some blurriness is common for new contact lens wearers. The distortion usually results from dryness. To counteract the moisture loss, talk to your eye care practitioner about medicated eye drops or pick up over-the-counter drops from your favourite drugstore. Do not drive or bike while experiencing blurry vision.

Why are contacts so scary? ›

The most common fear about contact lenses is the actual touching of one's eye. This is a normal contact lens fear—many people struggle even to put eye drops into their eyes, let alone an actual device. But this fear can be overcome with practice. When inserting your lenses, look up, and insert from below.

What are the darkest transition contact lenses? ›

Transitions XTRActive new generation lenses are the darkest photochromic lens in the car and the only photochromic lens achieving category 2 levels in the car.

What do transition contacts look like? ›

What do they look like? Throughout the day, the contacts change colors between clear and a deep, dark purple-brown. In bright, direct sunlight without sunglasses, the darkening effect is most pronounced. Most of the day, if you work in an office, you won't see much tint.

Do contacts make your eyes prettier? ›

By increasing the light reflection on your eye, your eyes look sharper and brighter than before. Colored Contact lenses with an enhancement tint will subtly change your natural eye color. Opaque tint contact lenses change the color of your iris and are more effective in enhancing your eyes.

Why do I feel weird with contacts? ›

Your lenses are not properly fitted

If you always feel as if you have something in your eye, improper lens fit could be the problem. Fitting issues are a common culprit, especially in instances when the patient is only having problems with discomfort in one eye.

Do some peoples eyes reject contacts? ›

There are many reasons that your eyes might reject your contacts. Your eyes can develop an intolerance to contact lens fluid, bacteria from unclean contacts, or even the material of the lenses themselves. Some common causes of contact lens intolerance include: Improper use, storage, or cleaning.

What is the fear of contact lenses called? ›

Our New Orleans Optometrist Advises Being Informed, Taking It Slow. We agree: Touching your eyes is usually not the most pleasant or comfortable sensation, especially if you are new to wearing contact lenses. Though rare, some people even experience an eye-touch phobia, called ommetaphobia.

Which is better transition or progressive lens? ›

For progressive lenses, you won't need to carry a pair of glasses for distance and another for reading. For Transitions lenses, you don't need to carry a pair of regular glasses and a pair of Transitions lenses. Another major difference is that Transitions lenses provide much more protection of your eyes.

Who should wear transition lenses? ›

So no matter where you live or what you do—day in and day out—Transitions lenses are the ideal everyday prescription eyeglasses for children, adults, and patients with special eye care needs.

Is gray or brown better for transition lenses? ›

Transition gray lenses are slightly darker than transition brown lenses. Which make them best for those looking for the darkest possible transition lenses. Transition brown lenses enhance contrast and visual acuity in the sun.

Why do people wear transition lenses? ›

Pros of transition lenses

They offer continuous UV protection. You will no longer forget your sunglasses or not bother to put them on for a trip outside. They won't get lost as easily. You and your children are less likely to lose glasses when you don't have two pairs to keep track of.

Are transition lenses noticeable? ›

Transitions® XTRActive®

They go from almost completely clear indoors to significantly darker outdoors. Our opticians also find that the indoor tint is barely noticeable and makes XTRActive® lenses a great choice for your everyday transition glasses.

Do transition lenses look clear? ›

Are Transitions lenses as clear as an ordinary clear lens indoors? Original Transitions or Transitions ® Signature ® lenses are completely clear indoors. Transitions ® XTRActive ® lenses and Transitions ® Vantage ® lenses have a hint of tint indoors for additional protection from light.

Why do I not like eye contact? ›

For those without a diagnosed mental health condition, avoidance of eye contact could be related to shyness or a lack of confidence. Looking someone in the eye while speaking can feel uncomfortable for those without a lot of practice making conversation or who tend to prefer not being in the spotlight.

Why are contacts so uncomfortable for me? ›

Lens-specific causes of contact lens discomfort include the wettability of the lens material, the lens design, lens fit, wearing modality (daily wear vs. extended wear) and lens care solutions. Environmental causes include patient factors (age, use of medications), tear film stability and ambient humidity.

Why do people avoid eye contact? ›

The simplest answer to why people avoid eye contact is that they may be nervous or uncomfortable. It makes sense—eye contact invites cooperation and increased interaction from others. If you feel insecure, you don't want people to take a closer look at you.

Which is more attractive glasses or contacts? ›

Several studies show that people who wear contact lenses are seen as more attractive and likable than those who wear spectacles.

Why do contacts feel better than glasses? ›

Contacts sit comfortably on the eye's curvature, giving you excellent focus and a wider field of view than glasses. Your lenses won't be affected by adverse weather conditions such as fog and rain, while they also won't steam up in hotter conditions.

Which eye color makes you look younger? ›

Neutral and pink colored eye shadows also make you look younger. Neutrals will also complement your everyday look without making you feel that you have over done your makeup, whether you are in the office or college.

What do contacts feel like inside out? ›

It will likely be uncomfortable, move around more, and/or feel like you have something stuck in your eye. Other times, it's subtle and may start to bother you only after the lens has been in for a few hours. HEADS UP: an inside-out lens is also more likely to pop out of your eye.

Why do contacts feel weird at first? ›

Contact lenses sometimes cause mild eye irritation during the first few days of use as you get used to the new sensation. You may feel uncomfortable that there is something in your eye or notice when your contact lenses begin to dry out. After a day or two, these symptoms typically go away.

What do bad contacts feel like? ›

Top Signs of Contact Lens Discomfort

These guidelines help keep your eyes healthy and your vision comfortable while you're wearing contact lenses and if they aren't followed, certain problems can occur, including: Stinging, burning and itchy eyes. Abnormal feeling of something in your eye. Excessive tearing.

Do your eyes get worse if you don't wear contacts? ›

You can stop wearing your glasses or contact lenses for many eye conditions without risking your eye health. You may experience uncomfortable symptoms, but it won't damage your eyes.

How do you know if your contact isn't in your eye? ›

You should be able to tell if a contact is still in there by looking at the area of your eye where the dark and the white parts come together, advised Dr. Le. If you still don't see it, flip your upper eyelid to see if it's hiding up there, then try saline drops to flush it out.

What is Ommatophobia? ›

Ommetaphobia describes an extreme fear of eyes. Like other phobias, this type of fear can be strong enough to interfere with your daily routine and social activities, while also being considered irrational because of the lack of any “real” danger.

What is eye contact anxiety? ›

Background: Excessive fear of scrutiny is a defining feature of social anxiety disorder. Eye contact may trigger feelings of being scrutinized, and although eye contact is commonly feared in persons with social anxiety disorder, it has been studied little.

Are contacts scary to wear? ›

Many people are afraid that once they put the contact lens in their eye, they are going to experience extreme pain and discomfort. If this were the case, no one would ever wear contacts! It's true that contact lenses can feel uncomfortable the first couple times you wear them. This is normal.

What is the newest transition lens? ›

  • A NEW FRONTIER OF PERFORMANCE. Transitions® Signature® GEN 8™ is our most responsive lens yet. ...
  • POLARIZE AS THEY DARKEN. The perfect choice for wearers looking for light protection indoors and outdoors—they even hold up to outdoor activities.

Which is better polarized or transitions? ›

Conclusion. When making the decision between transitions or polarized lenses, it is important to remember that one is not better than the other. Both transitions and polarized lenses offer the same UV protection. Polarized lenses reduce glare and increase contrast, while transitions offer an all-in-one solution.

How long does it take for transition lenses to go back to normal? ›

How Long Do Transitions Lenses Take To React? They typically take around 30 seconds to fully darken and between two to five minutes to return to a clear state.

What is an alternative to transition lenses? ›

Choose standard sunglasses or safety sunglasses instead of transition alternatives if you need continuous UV and sunlight protection. Transition eyeglasses won't change while you're driving, so there are situations when they won't offer the UV protection you need.

What should you not use with transition lenses? ›

Don't wipe or rub them — simply give them gentle dabs with the dry cloth. NEVER dry your lenses with paper towels, tissues, or napkins. While these materials might seem soft on your skin, their textured surfaces can badly scratch your lenses.

Are transition lenses OK for driving? ›

Ineffective in cars – Photochromic lenses darken in reaction to UV rays, which your windshield blocks. Because of this, transitional lenses won't darken very well in the car.

Which color Transitions are best? ›

Green — Best for reducing glare and brightening shadows, green lenses provide higher contrast than gray lenses and more exact color accuracy than brown lenses. They're a good option for any outdoor activity in any weather condition.

What color lenses are most popular? ›

Gray or smoke-colored lenses are the most popular choices. That's not surprising, since they provide a clear image on both sunny and cloudy days, and provide great overall protection against glare.

What color lens is best? ›

Opaque coloured tints are the best choice if you have dark eyes. For a natural-looking change, try a lighter honey brown or hazel coloured lens. But if you really want to stand out from the crowd, opt for contact lenses in vivid colours, such as blue, green or violet.

When did transition lenses become popular? ›

In late October 1992 the company released its second-generation lenses, which were both quicker to activate and got darker. Sales took off, with more than one million lens pairs sold between November 1992 and February 1993 alone.

Why do people hate transitions? ›

In a cloudy and overcast day, even though its not very sunny, UV light does get through so your transition lenses will change colors. Some people may not like that they look like they are wearing sunglasses in a day that is not sunny. Or have a semi tinted look all day long.

Can transition lenses cause blurred vision? ›

Remember that most people experience a week or two of peripheral blurriness as they adjust to their progressive lenses.

Do transition lenses wear out over time? ›

Wear & Tear

They generally last around 3 years before they lose their ability to darken when exposed to UV light.

Do Transitions get dark enough? ›

Transition lenses don't change behind the windshield of a car. When Transition lenses do wear out, they will take on a yellowish tinge when they're clear. They will no longer get as dark at that point. Transition lenses don't get as dark as standard sunglasses.

What are the darkest transition lenses? ›

Transitions XTRActive new generation lenses are extra dark outdoors and the darkest photochromic light intelligent lens in hot temperatures. They are the only photochromic lens to achieve a category 3 level of darkness when it's hot - the same level as sunglasses.

How do you know if contacts are messing up your eyes? ›

Since contact lenses are always in direct contact with the surface of the eye, they can easily cause eye irritation through rubbing or by trapping dust—and both can lead to an eye infection. Common symptoms to look out for include blurred vision, “grittiness,” itchiness, redness or burning, and eye discharge.

Do contacts change the shape of your eye? ›

Shape—contacts stay in place by suctioning to the surface of your eyes. With long term wear, the shape of your corneas is subject to change from this application of pressure. The degree to which your corneas change depends on the type of lenses you use.

How do you know if contacts are affecting your eyes? ›

Some contact lens-related eye infections can cause serious vision loss or even blindness.
Symptoms of contact lens–related infections include:
  • blurry vision.
  • unusual redness of the eye.
  • pain in the eye.
  • tearing or discharge from the eye.
  • being extra sensitive to light.
  • feeling like there is something in your eye.
Apr 30, 2021

How long does it take your eyes to adjust to contacts? ›

While contact lenses can be an attractive alternative to wearing glasses because they don't change your appearance, contacts do also require a bit of an adjustment period. Most professionals will tell you that you can expect it to take as long as two weeks to get adjusted to your new lenses.

When should you stop wearing contact lenses? ›

What age should I stop wearing lenses? There's no age at which you should stop wearing contact lenses, we have patients in lenses that are 80+! As long as you are dexterous enough to keep putting the lenses in and taking them out again then there's no reason you can't wear contact lenses.

Who should not wear contact lenses? ›

Not everyone who needs glasses wants to wear contacts, but nine out of 10 people who want to wear them can wear contacts. However, contact lenses may not be a good option for people who: Have had repeated eye infections. Suffer from severe allergic reactions.

How do you tell if contacts are too strong or too weak? ›

When your prescription is too high, you will notice that you begin to feel dizzy and nauseous within some time of wearing your prescription glasses or lenses. This is a sure indication of a wrong prescription.

Are contacts more attractive than glasses? ›

Several studies show that people who wear contact lenses are seen as more attractive and likable than those who wear spectacles.

What are the side effects of wearing contacts too long? ›

Leaving contacts in your eyes for too long can have side effects, such as eye pain, blurred vision, red eyes, watery eyes, ulcers, sensitivity to light, and irritation. It's also possible that you could get a painful eye infection from the lens material breaking down.

What happens if you wear the wrong size contacts? ›

What Happens if You Wear the Wrong Size Contact Lenses? Dislodged Contact. If the diameter (width of the contact lens) is too wide or the base curve is too flat, the contact lens will fit loose on your eye and can slip out of place or dislodge when you blink or rub your eyes.

Is it bad to wear contact lenses every day? ›

Contacts offer vision correction with a freedom that eyeglasses can't provide, but that doesn't mean you can wear them 24/7. In fact, overwearing your contacts is one of the riskiest behaviours for wearers.

Do contacts worsen your vision? ›

Another offshoot of contact lens overuse is blurred vision. Instead of helping you see better, your contacts can impair your vision if you use it longer than you should. This is caused by damage to your corneas and is often accompanied by sensitivity to bright lights.

Why is my vision blurry with contacts but not glasses? ›

Some of the possible causes of blurry vision while wearing contacts include a change in your prescription, deposits (like dirt) on the lens surface, dry eyes, allergies, infections, or other eye health problems.

How often should you let your eyes rest from contacts? ›


Make it a point to remove your contact lenses and allow your eyes a chance to rest. Try to do this for at least a few hours every evening and as often as possible one whole day a week. During this time you would want to wear your glasses to continue your daily activities.

Can I rub my eyes with contacts? ›

Rubbing your eyes with the contact lens on has the possibility of damaging the cornea, which may further lead to vision impairment. To avoid any such instance, it becomes essential to avoid rubbing the eyes.


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