Polarized Transitions Lenses

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

Transitions Vantage

Do you wear glasses? If so, you might want to check into Transitions Vantage lenses when you next need new glasses. I’ve had them now for about 6 months and love them.

You may have heard of Transitions lenses — they’re what used to be called “photogrey” and turn clear inside and at night, and dark when in sunlight. The Transitions Vantage go one step further and don’t just become darker in sunlight — they also become polarized. Perfect on a boat!

A little bit of background — I tried Transitions about 20 years ago and didn’t like them one bit. They were too dark indoors and too light in full sun.


Polarized (left) vs. not (right)

So I opted for a pair of clear glasses to wear indoors, and a pair of prescription polarized sunglasses. Polarized glasses are wonderful around water as they considerably reduce glare.

On a boat, polarized glasses really help spotting wind lines and also in seeing shoal areas. Dave and I quickly realized how much better I was at spotting things on the water with my polarized sunglasses than he was with his non-polarized.

The down side was that I felt that I forever had the wrong glasses on when we were living on Que Tal and I spent half my day changing glasses!

About 5 years ago, the optician talked me into trying the Transitions XtrActive, saying that they were much improved. They certainly were, but there was a bit of a tradeoff. I liked not having to change glasses as I went in the boat and out in the cockpit, but I no longer had polarized sunglasses (or if I wanted to use my old pair, I could, but that sort of defeated the purpose of having the Transitions).

In December 2013 I needed new glasses. Before my appointment, I debated long and hard about whether I wanted Transitions or two pair, with the sunglasses being polarized. When I got to selecting my glasses, I jokingly said something about wishing I could have polarized Transitions.

I was absolutely shocked when I was told that they had just come out! The optometrist had a pair to try for himself, but they literally hadn’t sold a pair yet. I was very interested, but sort of taken aback at the cost. You see, I wear progressive bifocals with a high index (thinner lenses for those of us who wear really powerful glasses), and they’re expensive enough in regular Transitions.

In Transitions Vantage, they’d be even more expensive. Over $500 just for the lenses, no frames (note: price varies with your prescription and by optician, your price may be higher or lower). I don’t have vision insurance. Yikes!

I thought about it for a couple of days and decided to go with the Transitions Vantage lenses. I liked them initially, but it was about a month later that we went to the USVI aboard Beagle Knot and I got to really see how they worked for life on a boat.

Finally, I had glasses that worked for the way I live! The only time I changed was to put contacts in when snorkeling. I wore them for everything else and it was wonderful just to be able to see well all the time.

Because I was curious, I did take my old lenses along and compared looking through the water at the bottom with the old (regular Transitions) and new (polarized Transitions Vantage) lenses. Huge difference in what I could see.

I will admit that in polarized mode, they aren’t quite as good as pure polarized sunglasses — I’d say they’re maybe 95% as good. It’s a trade-off I’m willing to accept for actually having them on when I need them!

More recently when we were in the Florida Keys and moving the boat we ended up not buying, I was the only one on board with polarized lenses. I ended up being the spotter whenever we were in shallow water.

I know the cost of Transitions Vantage lenses will put them out of reach of some on a budget, but they’re really worth considering if you’re on the water a lot. I absolutely love mine and when Dave gets new glasses, that’s what he’ll get too.

Oh, one final note: even if you go to a one-hour lab, expect that it’ll take them a week or so to get the lenses in.

DISCLOSURE: Nope, I didn’t get paid a cent to write this. I just love them!

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  1. Carolyn, thanks for this! I just mentioned these glasses and your article to my hubs, and it absolutely made his day. He’s been wanting glasses like these for a long, long time. Once again, I am so grateful for your knowledge and generosity with sharing your experiences!

  2. Question: How quickly do they transition going from inside to outside and/or the other direction? I’ve always wondered if I’d be walking around in the dark for several minutes coming in from outside.

    • It’s not instantaneous, but it doesn’t take long. At the optometrist’s, you can get a sample and walk outside and then back in to see how fast it is (or at least at mine I could). I never feel like I’m walking around in the dark — the only time I notice it is going from a really sunny day outside straight into a pitch dark room, which has only happened once or twice in 5 years.

  3. I’ve had these lenses for a couple of years and wouldn’t have anything else!

  4. But that happens with no glasses too. What an awesome idea. I will have to keep a lookout for these when I next need glasses

  5. Carolyn, you write about the neatest stuff! Now I am actually looking forward to getting new glasses!

  6. Are they not polarized when clear? I could imagine some times that it would be handy to have clear polarized glasses.

  7. On a similar note, I just bought Progressive Polarized lenses. I didn’t go for the Transitions and I’m not sure if you ca get all three in one, but I am so looking forward to being able to sit out where its bright and read and then be able to look up and see distance. Also for checking the chart plotter and guide books I need reading glasses but then distance lenses when looking up and out of course. I can’t wait to get them and to having to slip my sunglasses over my reading glasses will be wonderful.

  8. Sorry, meant to say “not having to slip”

  9. I’ve worked with the transition lenses for about the last 6 months. I work in the aviation field and find them quite good. I was curious to see if you have problems viewing your chartplotter/gps in polarized mode? When I wear regular polarized lenses viewing can be difficult depending on the angle of view.

    • I was concerned about that. I’ve had far less problems than with regular polarized lenses (for example, if I wear my contacts and polarized sunglasses, I can’t read my watch at all) and generally by moving my head very slightly, I can see electronics screens perfectly (I’ve had ZERO problems reading my watch with the Transitions Vantage). In fact, I don’t really notice it in actual use — it was only because I was thinking about “would it be a problem” that I realized that sometimes I moved my head just a tiny bit.

  10. How do you find polarized lenses when looking at your electronic instrumentation. I had polarized sunglasses a few years ago that made the display on my instruments disappear until I tilted my head sideways. I had thought someone had inadvertently turned the instruments off until the race crew looked at me like I had lost my mind! I now have Transitions progressive lenses and do not have the same issue. Mind you, I do not think they are the newer polarized version.

  11. Believe I paid an extra $90 to have transitions added to my prescription glasses. Love them.

  12. I find fitovers very useful. Specially when working with these new screens.

  13. Can you get non prescription transition glasses?

    • I don’t know. I’ve worn glasses since I was 7, so never even thought about it. Check with a glasses shop near you — I’d guess that they could get them with no correction (since some people have a correction in one eye and not the other) but I’ve never asked.

  14. I had transitions many years ago and they took a long time to transition to indoors. How quickly do these transition?

    • Much, much faster than the old ones. I resisted Transitions for a long time because of the slow changing. Several years ago they developed technology that makes them not-quite-instantaneous, but close.

  15. I agree, I have transitions and progressives, near and far sighted. Never worry or even think about the need for sun glasses or taking them off inside. They are fabulous.

  16. I agree. I have these (progressives, transitions, polarized) and love them!

  17. Teremy Jackson says:

    I just got the transitions vantage lenses after taking about 3 hours to decide since I couldn’t find any proper reviews regarding the transition from outdoors to indoors. Thank you! I should get my new glasses in about two weeks.

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