Article Date: 5/1/2004

PHOTOCHROMICS Break Out
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:

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.

 

Getting Started

 

Below are Web sites where you can find additional information on the photochromic lenses mentioned in this article:

Beloptix
www.beloptix.com

Corning
www.corning.com/ophthalmic

Rodenstock
www.rodenstockusa.com

Transitions
www.transitionsoptical.com

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