Choosing the best photochromic sunglass goes beyond shopping for an ordinary light- reactive or adaptive lens.

It must be an accessory that guarantees safety, comfort, vision correction and full-fills your fashion needs.

This can be a daunting task!

Today, I want to give you some 11 practical tips that will help you in this process.

But before that, let me answer this important question first:

What is a Photochromic Lens & Why Do You Need It?

A photochromic lens is an optical medium with trillions of molecules that change their structure on exposure to certain types and magnitude of ultra-violet light.

This change in structure causes the entire lens to darken.

By doing so, the lens ensures only safe amount of light reaches your eyes.

This is an important safety measure that photochromic sunglasses guarantee at all times.

I know you could be wondering how this can be possible.

Here is a short video of a photochromic surface:

As you can see, this is a reversible process, where in the absence of certain threshold of UV light, it returns back to the original color or tint.

With that in mind, now let’s go straight to the main subject of this article:

Tip #1: Evaluate the Effectiveness of Photochromic Properties

How long does it take a sunglass to tint and clear (from clear to dark and vice versa)?

It will depend on the sensitivity of the photochromic properties.

You can do a simple experiment to evaluate this.

Simply unpack the sunglasses, move outside where there is UV light then, back to the house or shade.

As you do this, use a stop watch to determine the time it takes to transition from one shade to another.

photochromic material

Hold photochromic material outside, then in a shade and note the difference

During this simple experiment, you should remember the following:

  • Type of photochromic compounds will determine the degree of sensitivity
  • Manufacturing process affects the reaction or effectiveness of photochromic properties
  • When photochromic molecules become cold, the reaction process will be slow compared to when they are warm.

With this, it is easier to determine whether you’re buying high quality or substandard eyewear.

Tip#2: What Other Sunglass Coating Technologies are Available?

At times, having photochromic features alone may not be enough.

For example, photochromic molecules will not protect the sunglasses from fog.

You need a hydrophilic anti-fog solution.

Again, in case the photochromic molecules are on the surface of a sunglass, you must add a scratch resistant coating.

Anti-Fog-Anti-Scratch-PC-Sheet

You can use the same technologies in sunglasses

In short, the best photochromic sunglass has additional technologies that improve its overall performance.

That is, it will guarantee an optical class 1 vision at all times.

Some of these technologies include polarization, mirror, chrome, iridium or hydrophobic coating, just to mention a few.

Tip #3: Quality Should Come First & Not Cost

Why do I say so?

When you focus on quality, there is a high chance of evaluating all possible factors that may affect the performance of the photochromic sunglasses.

For instance, you will evaluate the photochromic properties alongside other coating technologies.

High quality photochromic sunglasses

High quality sunglasses

Remember, there are many sunglass manufacturers available in the market.

However, not all meet the set quality standards.

This is why I avoid search terms such as “cheap sunglasses” or “cheap photochromic sunglasses”.

I would rather do my entire Google search using “best photochromic sunglasses” or “high quality sunglasses”.

The truth is, once the ultraviolet radiation damages your eyes, it will be tormenting and expensive in the long run. So, quality should come before competitive prices.

Tip #4: Sunglass Frame is Equally Important as the Lens

Do you know that photochromic sunglasses are also fashion accessories?

Whenever you’re choosing the lens tint, it is important to evaluate the type of frame.

Your main focus should be on the following:

  • Type of material
  • Color
  • Design
  • Shape

Just like color plays an integral role in your wardrobe, it should also apply here as well.

photochromic Sunglass frame

Sunglass frame

In most cases, I find neutral frames like gray, silver or black to be universal.

These frames fit most sunglass lenses.

Of course, you are at liberty to choose any other color that fits your fashion.

Again, you should be cautious when choosing frame design and shape.

For example, sunglasses with oversized frames are not suitable for cycling activities.

They will block your peripheral vision.

On the other hand, wraparounds offer more protection.

They block harmful ultraviolet light that may reach the eye via the frame edges (like in the case of standard frames).

Tip #5: Always Look for UV Protection

By design, photochromic lenses should provide 100% UVA and UVB protection.

However, this is not the case in some situations.

For instance, temperature dependency may limit the effectiveness of photochromic sunglasses.

Under such conditions, the lens can only achieve 95% tint.

How sunglass protects eyes from radiation

How sunglass protects eyes from radiation

In addition to this, there are instances of uneven tinting, which are due to varying thickness.

Of course, this is due to the fact that photochromic molecules are always within the sunglass lens material.

Furthermore, photochromic sunglass alone may not be enough in case you’re suffering from extreme light.

Therefore, you need to be sure that the sunglass provides 99% to 100% UV protection.

It is for this reason that I recommend sunglasses with additional UV protection coating.

Tip #6: You Must Consider the Environment/Type of Outdoor Activity

I know we mainly buy sunglasses for outdoor activities.

So, it is important that you understand the nature of the environment where you intend to use these lenses.

It could be in the desert, snowboarding, cycling or at the beach.

Each of these environments has unique characteristics, which will determine the additional lens coating you need.

How sunglass protects eyes from radiation

A woman with sunglasses at the beach

For instance, at the beach, you may need gray color to reduce brightness from the sand.

On the other hand, amber and grey sunglasses reduce glare due to the blue frequency from the sun.

Furthermore, yellow tints reduce haze while green ones reduce glare.

So, at any given time, the nature of outdoor activity will form the basis on which you will choose a photochromic sunglass.

Tip #7: Choose Photochromic Sunglasses from Reputable Manufacturers/Brands

Don’t expect to get a high quality and trusted photochromic sunglasses from a company that does not have the know-how in this industry.

I find it a little funny when you buy generic sunglasses.

With such accessories, you cannot even authenticate inspection certificates or information.

In fact, if you’re an OEM business, buying sunglasses directly from a reputable manufacturer is a better option.

This way, you will not only get the best price in the market, but also be able to verify the quality.

There are so many companies in this industry. By doing a random search, say using search term “Photochromic sunglasses manufacturers”, you will get reputable companies.

Here is an example:

Photochromic lens on google

Photochromic lens manufacturing companies

Always avoid online marketplaces such as Alibaba or Amazon when you need large orders, especially for an OEM partnership.

Tip #8: Don’t Forget to Specify the Level of Contrast & Degree of Tint

One fascinating phenomenon about photochromic technology is the ability of the sunglass to tint on exposure to a certain degree of ultraviolet radiation.

Normally, photochromic sunglasses have different degrees of contrast and tints.

Different designs and tints of photochromic sunglasses

Different designs and tints of photochromic sunglasses

You will find that the darkest tints can allow about 11% to 12% of light to pass through like in the gray sunglasses.

This is not the same scenario with the brown sunglasses that allow for 15% to 16% of light to pass through.

However, tinting alone is not the only thing to look for.

You need a photochromic sunglass that can improve sharpness of vision.

It is actually for this reason that you will find golfers and fishermen opting for sunglasses that accentuate reds or greens.

This is because they improve image sharpness and contrast.

Tip #9: Comfort is Always a Priority  

As you can see from the other 8 tips, every aspect revolves around buying the best photochromic sunglass.

Remember, by ensuring 100% UV protection, it simply implies that the sunglass will reduce eye fatigue and increase contrast.

As a result, you will feel comfortable all the time.

A young lady wearing photochromic sunglasses

A young lady wearing photochromic sunglasses

Therefore, you need a sunglass with well-fitting frames that are durable, lightweight and flexible.

Generally, this should be a sunglass that you’re comfortable with in terms of design and performance.

It is only through this that you will enjoy any outdoor activity.

Tip #10: Request for the Photochromic Sunglass Data Sheet

Data sheet or product information is a vital document that gives you in-depth information about a product.

It is through this that you will get to know:

  • Index of refraction of the photochromic lens; it determines how effectively a sunglass lens bends light.
  • Abbe number/value; how best/widely the sunglass lens disperses light
  • Aspheric design; you can use this to determine the slim and attractive profile of a lens
  • Type of material for the frame
  • Any coatings on the lens surface
  • Weight
  • Quality tests

In short, it is through a data sheet that you will get more information about the lens that you cannot see by just looking at it.

Tip #11: Does the Sunglass Specification Meet the Right Safety Standards?

Well, at every stage, the photochromic sunglass manufacturer must adhere to some quality procedures.

In most cases, the tests are based on the following:

  • EN170 or UV resistance
  • ASTM D 1003 for VLT photochromic tint
  • 05/ECE 324 for anti-fog test

Moreover, your sunglass should meet various ISO standards and other tests such as freezing tests.

When you consider all these, I am quite sure you will get the best photochromic sunglasses that meet your specific needs.

Conclusion

As you can see, choosing the best photochromic sunglass for an outdoor activity can be an overwhelming process.

You have to balance between quality compliance, style and performance.

I know you may have some tips that work well for you.

So, feel free to share them with me in the comment section below.

More resources: