On a sunny day in coastal Georgia, where I live, I tried Vantage in a shallow-water fishing situation. Granted our water here ranges from green and gritty to brown and muddy, but the polarization did allow me to see subtle water-color changes where oyster reefs meet mud.
I’d love to try these glasses during a true sight-fishing excursion, but I’ll have to wait until April when our tripletail arrive and feed at the surface along our coast. I’d also like to try them in low-light conditions, and on high-overhead-sun days.
I have also worn the Vantage glasses for ordinary land-based activities. I have come to some conclusions and have a few tips about how and when these should best be used.
First, when I chose the frames for these lenses, I tried to find the largest pair I could that didn’t make me look bug-eyed. Coverage is very important when glare is coming in from all sides — bouncing off the water like heated atoms in a science project.
I also requested an anti-reflective coating for the backside of these lenses. For more on that, see question No. 7 in the Q&A.
Once I got the glasses, I found them very comfortable and really liked that I could walk outside and enjoy the quick photochromic change, then walk back inside and work at my computer. I also drive my car with the sunroof open most days, which activates the photochromic dyes enough for the glasses to darken in my vehicle.
In general, I liked the fact that I could use the same product indoors or outdoors without worrying about inserting or removing contacts or switching glasses. On days when I’m rushed or just need an easy solution, these glasses shine.
Then, to better understand how Transitions developed this technology, I asked a series of questions to Transitions senior scientist Anil Kumar. This definitely helped me grasp just why and how Vantage works.
1. ME: Explain the basics of photochromic lenses and how Transitions can add polarization into the equation — since that has never been achieved before?
KUMAR: Photochromic lenses contain trillions of dye molecules, which upon exposure to UV light (present in sunlight) change to different structure that absorb visible light. This reaction and absorption of visible light is what causes the lens to darken. This reaction is also reversible, which means when the lens is not exposed to sunlight, the molecules reverse back to their original structure and the lens becomes clear.
Conventional photochromic molecules darken in a random pattern and equally absorb all planes of visible light. Transitions has developed a very unique and revolutionary technology by creating a lens in which dye molecules not only darken under the influence of UV light but also align into a proper angle in the lens so they can selectively absorb the horizontal plane of the visible light and become polarized.
NOTES: In followup conversation, Kumar told me that Transitions uses two methods diffusion (after heating) and transponding (a coating) so that the lens accepts the dye molecules. The method employed depends on the material used in the lens.
2. ME: What percentage of visible light can Transitions photochromic lenses block from reaching the eye?
KUMAR: In typical sunny-day conditions, all Transitions everyday lenses block 100 percent of UVA and UVB and block visible light as ordinary sunglasses. Transitions lenses are responsive, adaptive lenses, and they adapt their darkness depending on outdoor conditions. The level of darkness depends on the amount of UV light present, temperature, time of day and direction of the sun.
NOTES: I posed a question about the difference between various color lenses and mirroring in sunglasses and how that affects light transmission — and then how that compared to Vantage, which only comes in a gray color now. Kumar said that in the right conditions, Vantage can block more than 90 percent of visible light. In a very general scenario, on average, they block 88 percent. Most sunglass companies say their lenses block 82 to 92 percent. So Vantage is in the same ballpark.