Improved technology and
new applications bring these lenses to a wider market.
BY RENÉ LUTHE, Senior Associate Editor
Photochromic lenses are an example of a great idea that got off to a bumpy start. Manufacturers persevered, however, and today's photochromics have an excellent chance of satisfying the visual needs of your active patients. Let's take a look at some of the industry's latest offerings.
Do your homework
To convince your patients that photochromics ain't what they used to be (but in a good way!), you'll have to bone up on how today's lenses have changed. For instance, did you know that the latest photochromic lenses:
- are virtually clear indoors
- darken and lighten faster
- reach true sunglass tint outdoors
- are available in alternative materials, including polycarbonate, CR-39 and Trivex
- come in higher indices
- come in polarized lenses
Also, most major brand-name progressive lenses can be ordered in photochromic form.
ILLUSTRATION BY CAM WILSON
Look who's wearing them
Traditionally, photochromic's core customers have been men aged 30 to 65. This population base is focused on utility, experts say, and often want to save money.
Recently, older patients have also shown an interest in this type of lens. One optometrist reported that this group is well aware that ultra-violet (UV) light contributes to age-related macular degeneration.
Heightened awareness of health and fitness generally has been good for photochromic lenses, as a matter of fact.
People demanded lenses that would help them participate more comfortably and safely in outdoor activities, where light conditions change. Manufacturers obliged: Colormatic Extra and Corning's glass photochromics block 96% or more UV light; Transitions Optical's Transition lenses change from nearly clear indoors to sunglass-dark outdoors, the company says. And
Beloptix, which first produced the photochromic polarized Rx-able lens, claims that its lens tint activates within 45 seconds.
Targeting the active market led eyecare practitioners to discover children as prime candidates for photochromics. Their participation in outdoor activities means that they're frequently in changing light conditions, and now that the lenses are available in polycarbonate, sales have been looking up, experts report.
Set for growth
With such promising growth in the photochromics market, manufacturers are optimistic about the future -- and ready to meet the growing demand. Transitions recently added the X-Cel High-X Freedom 5, the Shamir Genesis Superlite 1.6, the Sola SolaOne and the Younger Trilogy Aspheric SV.
Corning reports that it continues to pursue further applications for its best-selling plastic polymer lens, SunSensors. It's new Polycore Optical's Micro Progressive lens brings the total of SunSensors true grey and true brown photochromic lenses to six styles.
Rodenstock says that the photochromic option is popular in its Rodenstock Spectacle Account, offered in many optometry practices -- patients include the option more than 50% of the time. Additionally, the company introduced the ColorMatic Extra Brown to its APT 1.56 line.
A healthy choice
Photochromic lenses can be recommended for patients of all ages who participate in outdoor activities. The lenses make sense from a practical, health and convenience perspective. Improved technology and a wide range of materials and styles make photochromic lenses a healthy choice for both your patients and your practice.
Optometric Management, Issue: May 2004