Transition Contact Lenses

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What are Transition Contact Lenses?

In April 2018, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever transition contact lenses. This type of contact includes breakthrough light-management technology. It allows the lenses to darken automatically when exposed to bright light without sacrificing visual acuity (sharpness of vision) or comfort. 

Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. was the creator of these soft contact lenses. The official name for this eyewear is Acuvue Oasys Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology.

Acuvus Transitions

If you have myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness), you can use these transition contact lenses for daily use. Even those who do not have vision problems can wear the lenses as well. 

However, you cannot wear these lenses for more than 14 days (or approximately two weeks). 

Like any type of contact lenses, it is important to maintain good eye care practices. Contact lenses of any kind do have the risk of complications, such as infections. 

How Do Transition Contact Lenses Work?

Transition contact lenses are similar to transition eyeglasses and have a photochromic additive. This means that your eye will filter visible light according to the quantity of UV and High Energy Visible (HEV) light. 

When this happens, the lenses darken slightly to compensate for the increased sunlight. However, if you return indoors, your contact lenses become clear again within 90 seconds. 


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You’ll want to remember that while these contacts provide UV protection, they are not substitutes for UV protective sunglasses or goggles. The contact lenses do not cover the entire eye and leave areas exposed to harmful UVA/UVB radiation.  

What Do They Look Like?

The contact lenses will have a clear-to-slightly tinted appearance in normal, indoor lighting conditions. However, if you wear these transition lenses outside, they will become darker when exposed to UV and/or HEV light. 

The lens manufacturer designed the contact lenses to minimize outward changes to your eye’s natural look. 

However, because these lenses fade quickly to clear when you’re no longer in direct sunlight, the tint is temporary. 

Who Are Transition Contact Lenses For? 

If you are diagnosed with myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness), these transition contact lenses may be suitable. 

People with astigmatism (irregular eye curvature) can also take advantage of the transition lenses. However, the lenses do not correct astigmatism.

Finally, if you have no vision problems but would like to enjoy the light management benefits, transition lenses may be worth considering. 

On the other hand, if you have any of the following conditions, you should not use these transition lenses:

  • Inflammation or infection in or around the eye
  • Any eye disease, injury, or abnormality that impacts the cornea, conjunctiva (the mucous lining on the front of the eye), or eyelids
  • Severe dry eye
  • Diminished corneal sensitivity 
  • Red or irritated eyes 
  • Previously diagnosed condition that causes discomfort when you wear contacts 
  • Allergic reactions on the eye’s surface or surrounding issues that could be caused by contact lenses and/or their lens solution 
  • Systemic disease that could impact the eye or become more problematic when you wear contacts 

According to the National Eye Institute, approximately 42 percent of Americans between the ages of 12 and 54 have myopia, while 5 to 10 percent of all Americans suffer from hyperopia.

Are Transition Contacts Safe & Effective?

The FDA provided clearance for the use of these transition contact lenses. This means that the governmental organization considers these contacts to be both safe and effective. 

To reach this decision, the FDA looked over different pieces of scientific evidence. For example, the FDA reviewed a clinical study of 24 subjects wearing contact lenses while driving during the day and/or night. The study results showed no problems related to driving performance or vision among the contact lens wearers.

Also, the FDA looked at the Acuvue Oasys Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology through the premarket notification 510(k) pathway

A 510(k) refers to when a device manufacturer makes a premarket submission to the FDA to show their device is considerably equivalent to a predicate device. A predicate device is a legally marked medical device that a manufacturer may use as a reference to get approval from the FDA. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 45 million people wear contact lenses in the United States. 

Pros and Cons of Transition Contacts

Transition contacts have both advantages and disadvantages. 

Here is a list of some of the benefits of wearing these contact lenses:

  • Adapts to different light conditions. These lenses automatically adjust to light settings in little time. For example, when the lenses are exposed to outdoor light, they become more tinted. 
  • Improves vision at night. You can experience fewer halos and starbursts by approximately 18 and 28 percent, on average. 
  • Filters blue light. These lenses can block around 15 percent of blue light indoors and 55 percent in outdoor settings. 
  • Provides UV light protection. You can enjoy 100 percent protection against UVB rays and more than 99 percent against UVA rays. 
  • Contrasts color better. These lenses can enhance color contrast by up to 38 percent.
  • Reduces vision problems caused by bright light. Indoor and outdoor bright light can make you squint or have trouble seeing clearly. These lenses help minimize this problem. 
  • Could enhance appearance. Some people may feel more confident because they wear contact lenses that do not affect their overall look. 
  • Doesn’t fog up. Unlike glasses which can fog up when you’re outdoors or in low-temperature environments, these contact lenses will maintain their clarity. 

Here is a list of some of the downsides of wearing these contact lenses:

  • Run the risk of eye infection. Despite the breakthrough technology, these contact lenses increase your risk of eye infections, like keratitis. These infections can happen due to poor hygiene and eye care practices at home. 
  • Increase the risk of blindness. If you develop a serious eye infection due to the lenses, you could suffer blindness. On an annual basis, blindness affects approximately 1 out of every 500 people who wear contact lenses.
  • Becomes expensive. Buying contact lenses is not cheap and could increase your monthly expenses. Glasses are a more economical alternative. 

Approximately 1 million doctor and hospital visits for keratitis occur in the United States annually. 

How Much Do Transition Lenses Cost?

Transition lenses’ prices will vary depending on where you purchase them.  

For example, if you purchase these lenses at your local Walmart, a 3-month supply could cost you around 100 dollars. 

However, if you are not sure about whether to spend the money or not, you can download a certificate from the home page of Acuvue Oasys Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology.

This certificate will let you ask for free trial lenses from participating eye doctors. However, it is important to remember that you will have to pay for the eye exam and fitting fees.

Are They More Expensive Than Regular Contact Lenses?

Prices for contact lenses vary from one set to the next. Costs will depend on:

  • How severe the vision problem is
  • The brand of contact lenses 
  • Additional product features

However, that aside, transition lenses fall within a similar price range. Also, with vision insurance, you may be able to save more on out-of-pocket expenses.  

Where Can I Buy Transition Contacts?

You can buy transition contacts from a local drugstore retailer or an optometry clinic. You can speak with your optometrist or ophthalmologist to see if transition contacts are a suitable solution. 

Transition Contacts: Common Questions and Answers

Are transition contacts similar to transition glasses? 

Yes. Transition contacts have the same photochromatic additive in transition glasses that help them darken when exposed to natural sunlight. 

Do transition lenses help astigmatism?

Yes. Transition lenses can help with certain degrees of astigmatism. However, because each case is unique, you should speak with your local eye doctor to see if these lenses are best for your needs. 

How long do transition lenses last?

You can wear transition lenses every day for up to 14 days. You must maintain proper care throughout that period to avoid possible eye infections. 

Do transition contacts replace sunglasses?

No. Transition contacts do not replace sunglasses. While transition contacts protect against UVA and UVB rays, parts of your eye and the surrounding area remain exposed to the radiation. It is important to use proper UV protective eyewear.  

Do transition contacts work indoors and outdoors?

Yes. These transition contacts work both indoors and outdoors. The lenses will change according to how much light is present in the setting. If you go from outdoors to indoors, the lenses will become clear again within 90 seconds. 

Can I wear them while driving?

Yes. You can. A clinical study showed that driving performance remained unaffected when people wore transition lenses. The lenses work while you are behind a windshield and can reduce halos and starbursts during the night. 

Can the lenses filter out blue light? 

Yes. The lenses can actively filter out blue light indoors by up to 15 percent. For blue light outdoors, these lenses can filter out up to 55 percent.  

Who should not wear transition contacts?

You should not wear transition contacts if you have any of the following conditions. These include inflammation or infection in or around the eye; any eye disease, injury, or abnormality that impacts the cornea, conjunctiva (the mucous lining on the front of the eye), or eyelids; severe dry eye; diminished corneal sensitivity; red or irritated eyes; a previously diagnosed condition that causes discomfort when you wear contacts; allergic reactions on the eye’s surface or surrounding issues that could be caused by contact lenses and/or its lens solution; or, systemic disease that could impact the eye or become more problematic when you wear contacts.

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Resources
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“ACUVUE OASYS with Transitions.” Contact Lenses by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. - Walmart Contacts, www.walmartcontacts.com/Lens/927.

“Benefits of Vision Correction with Contact Lenses.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Mar. 2014, www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/benefits.html.

Dart, J.K.G. “Risk Factors for Microbial Keratitis with Contemporary Contact Lenses: a Case-Control Study.” Ophthalmology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18597850/.

“Fast Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 July 2018, www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/fast-facts.html.

“FDA Clears First Contact Lens with Light-Adaptive Technology.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, Apr. 2018, www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-clears-first-contact-lens-light-adaptive-technology.

“Light-Adaptive Contacts: ACUVUE® OASYS with Transitions.” ACUVUE® Contact Lenses, www.acuvue.com/acuvue-oasys-transition-contact-lenses.

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