Prescription Sunglasses vs. Transition Lenses

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If you wear vision correcting glasses and are outside on a sunny day, it can be pretty hard to see. You’re left with choosing to see clearly by wearing your glasses, or not having to squint at the sun by wearing sunglasses. However, there are solutions to this problem. While clip-on sunglasses may seem like a good, quick solution, they hardly ever fit your existing glasses. Some may also opt for contact lenses, but those aren’t for everyone. The real solutions are ordering prescription sunglasses or transition lenses so that you can enjoy being outside again. In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between the two, so that you can make the best decision.

At Rochester Optical, we not only have an optometry office, but also a lab where we design our own frames. Schedule an appointment with one of our optometrists today to get an eye exam and order your prescription sunglasses or transition lenses.

Sunglasses Are Important For Eye Health

Average over-the-counter sunglasses do not come with a prescription lens. Their purpose is to protect the eyes from harmful UV light. Sunglasses can also come with special, polarized lenses to help users see even more clearly when looking at reflective surfaces such as water. Unfortunately, most people who wear corrective lenses choose to keep wearing their glasses outside, instead of a pair of sunglasses, in order to see better. Especially when driving, for example, people who wear glasses need to see the road and read signs, so they try to deal with squinting at the blinding sunlight, which can be dangerous. It’s important for glasses-wearers to be able to see, but they should keep their eye health while outside a priority, and wear protective sunglasses when they can.
What Are Prescription Sunglasses and Transition Lenses?
Prescription sunglasses use a similar prescription lens as regular eyeglasses, with the added feature of darkened lenses to help protect the eyes against the sun and other UV light.
In a pair of transition lens glasses, the lens darkens only when exposed to light which protects the eyes from the sun and UV light.

Which One Is Best For Me?

While both prescription sunglasses and transition lenses will be great at allowing you to see and protect your eyes from UV light, there are a couple of upsides and downsides to each. Based on your lifestyle and budget, you may prefer one option over the other.


Prescription sunglasses come in a variety of styles, just like normal sunglasses do. Transition lenses, on the other hand, only come in styles that regular eyeglasses would come in. Since prescription sunglasses look like regular sunglasses, you can also keep your looks separate. Transition lenses will look like normal glasses but with a dark-tinted lens in the sunlight. If having fashionable sunglasses separate from your eyeglasses is important to you, we would recommend getting a pair of prescription sunglasses instead of transition lenses.

Outdoor Activity

If you’re outside for a good chunk of the day, prescription sunglasses are a good option to have. This way, you can put them on and go about your business. If you go from inside to outside throughout the day, transition lenses would be a better option so you’re not constantly swapping between the two pairs of glasses.


While prescription sunglasses and transition lenses are relatively the same price, keep in mind that with the former, you’ll need to buy two pairs of glasses and only one pair with the latter. Paying for two sets of frames and prescription lenses at once can be costly so if you’re due for a new pair of glasses, choosing transition lenses would save you money. Although, if you currently have a pair of eyeglasses that you love consider adding a set of prescription sunglasses to your collection.

Eye Exams and Prescription Glasses in Rochester

If you live in or around Rochester, New York, trust in the optometrists at Rochester Optical to help you see clearly on bright, sunny days. We offer eye care and eye exams, make our own glasses frames in our lab right here in the USA, and have many products available to shop online and at our retail store. We are proud to be one of the few glasses manufacturers left in the United States, and we are dedicated to designing innovative frames to fit your lifestyle. Check out our patented lens inserts for Smart Glasses that we created to help people who need corrective lenses enjoy their favorite AR and VR glasses. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with an optometrist!