5 Ways to Fail When Dispensing Photochromic Lenses


Light-reactive (or photochromic) lenses are a great choice for a wide variety of patients and they come with a boatload of benefits. With this in mind, it can be easy to get carried away when recommending them to patients and overpromise. As with any lens, it’s essential to present them accurately and honestly to set the foundation for a better wearer experience. After all, if a patient understands the reason behind a performance characteristic, they’re less likely to perceive it as a product flaw and call you with a complaint…or worse, a redo request.

With that in mind, here are five photochromic faux pas to avoid when recommending a light-reactive lens to a patient:

1. Offer Photochromics as a Replacement for Sunglasses

As great as they are, light-reactive lenses are not replacements for sunglasses. Each product has features, benefits, and advantages unique to themselves. Sunglasses are designed to provide maximum darkness outdoors. Light-reactive lenses are designed to darken outdoors to a level that provides comfortable vision in bright environments and defend against UV and blue light. However, they will not be as dark as sunglasses. If maximum darkness is the request, suggest an extra reactive lens like SunSync Elite XT or SunSync Drive XT, which get darker outside than other light-reactive lenses. If a patient wants an even darker lens, prescriptions suns would be their best bet.

2. Overpromise on Photochromic Performance

Lenses and enhancements are only as good as the technology available at the time they’re created. Even with the introduction of ultra-fast light-reactive lenses that incorporate the latest technology, photochromics don’t change instantly and should not be promised to do so. You’re only setting the product up for failure and setting your patient up for disappointment.  Light-reactive lenses are a convenient offering with a ton of great benefits. And with the ultra-fast category, wearers can now enjoy fade-back in less than a minute.

You’ll also want to set realistic expectations around in-car activation with an extra reactive lens. There are several variables inside a vehicle that can challenge an extra reactive lens to achieve perfect performance at all times. Tinted windows and temperature are two of the more common ones that can impact darkness, as well as reaction speeds and the direction in which a person is driving. Nevertheless, if a patient wants a light-reactive lens and in-car activation is a top priority, SunSync Drive XT and SunSync Elite XT offer the latest available technology to check that box.

Tout all the great benefits a patient receives with a light-reactive lens, just don’t overpromise. Your patients will thank you for your honesty. 

3. Neglect to Discuss Photochromic Performance Influences

As previously discussed, the technology that makes light reactivity possible has inherent characteristics that will be influenced by environmental variables. Ambient temperature, shade, reflected light, and time of day are a few factors that can influence darkness, clarity, and reaction speeds. 

Keep in mind, response to external influences isn’t a product flaw. It actually speaks to the intelligent technology of the product and how it accommodates visual needs in specific environments. Would you want ultra-dark lenses in the shade? Probably not. You’d probably prefer enough darkness to provide comfort, but not too much that it impacts your ability to see well. Smart, not defective. 

4. Advise Against Pairing Photochromics with Anti-Reflective Coatings

In years gone by, eye care professionals would advise against pairing a light-reactive lens with an AR coating due to fears of compatibility issues. Not only are photochromics compatible with an AR coating, but combining a light-reactive lens with a high-quality coating will enhance performance. In their clear state, light-reactive lenses function like standard prescription lenses and will enjoy all the benefits of adding an AR, including improved visual performance, reduced surface reflections, enhanced cleanability, and additional defense against scratches. In their darkened, activated state, an AR coating will enhance a wearer’s visual experience, similar to premium sunglasses enhanced with a backside AR.

5. Pair Photochromics with A Blue-Light Reducing AR Coating

While we just discussed the benefits of enhancing a light-reactive lens with an anti-reflective coating, there is one caveat. While it may sound extra-beneficial to add a blue-light-reducing AR coating to a light-reactive lens, it’s actually unnecessary and can negatively impact performance.

Why is it unnecessary? Light-reactive lenses provide outstanding blue light filtration by themselves. Adding a blue light coating doesn’t offer much in the way of additional defense, and when you consider the combination can negatively impact photochromic performance, that minimal bump isn’t worth it.

How does a blue light coating impact photochromic performance? First of all, it can alter the final color of the light-reactive lens. Whether that’s preferable to the patient or not, it’s an unexpected difference from what they saw in a demo lens, brochure, ad, or poster. And that can lead to complaints. Second, extra reactive lenses like SunSync Drive XT or SunSync Elite XT work through a combination of UV and natural visible light, where blue light resides. By reducing the amount of blue light reaching the glasses, blue light coatings can prevent extra reactive photochromics from achieving their full darkness. And darkness is one of the main reasons a person chooses an extra reactive light-reactive lens in the first place.

Light-reactive lenses offer your patients convenience, comfort, protection, and a slew of additional benefits. Focus on those and steer clear of pitching them as alternatives to sunglasses, embellishing benefits, failing to discuss external influences, and slapping a blue-light coating on them. Your patients and practice will thank you for it. 

What pitfalls do you avoid when dispensing light-reactive lenses? Tell us in the comments section!