This summer, the folks at Transitions invited me to get a pair of their glasses and test them out. As someone who has been a long time Transitions Signature lenses wearer, I didn't really "need" new glasses but I was curious about the other photochromatic lens technologies that were offered beyond what I already enjoyed. In particular, while I LOVED the flexibility of Signature ... it really didn't eliminate my need for true sunglasses and so I ended up still carrying them with me. Transitions XTRActive however, promised to be darker and work better while driving. To test them out and provide an honest review, I've been wearing them exclusively for the past two months. I'm hooked!
Glasses are something that is very personal and each person has different needs that match their individual lifestyle. For me, I spend a lot of time going between bright sunlight filled outside areas and dark interiors including cars, buildings, and other spaces. The traditional mixture of glasses and prescription sunglasses "worked", but I always found myself wishing I had something better. That's why I originally tried Transitions Signature about five years ago. Unfortunately, while those made it MUCH more comfortable in everyday situations such as going out to lunch where I was going from a building to the car, for longer outdoor activities such as walking the dog, biking, or even driving they simply weren't dark enough.
That's where Transitions XTRActive comes in. This is the darkest of the three lens options and they are designed to activate inside the car where UV windshield coating reduced effectiveness with Signature lenses.
To see exactly how far I could go and if these were truly the holy grail of glasses, I gave up my sunglasses for two months. During that time, I tested these in harsh conditions ranging from off road driving through blowing sand and 100 degree heat in the California desert, hanging out with NASCAR pit crews, starred in a commercial, exploring New England on a road trip, on the sidelines of an NFL game, and fishing in Florida last week. After all of those adventures, I'm convinced that these are the best glasses that I've ever owned. That's my story, but here's what you should know about Transitions XTRActive ...
Transition Lenses Can Work With Most Prescription Frames
Transitions sent me over to FramesDirect.com to select a frame to start with (I chose the Oakley Airdrop). You can make the entire purchase online here or visit your local vision professional and have them handle the process for you.
The Tint Is Always There (but your eyes adjust to it)
My first trip with these new glasses was to New Hampshire and it was jarring the first time I went from bright sunshine on the race track to inside of a hauler. Similarly, the first couple times I went into a dark bar or restaurant it was very noticible to me that there was still tint reducing the light to my eyes. After a couple days though, my eyes adjusted and I haven't had this feeling since.
These Aren't Polarized So Sunglasses Are Still Needed in Certain Circumstances
Transitions does make a Transitions Vantage product that I'd LOVE to test out since it has a variable polarization feature, though it doesn't activate as well behind the wheel while driving. Transitions XTRActive does block 100% of UVA and UVA rays and is designed to protect from harmful blue light as well. In fact, indoors XTRActive will filter 2x more harmful blue light than clear lenses and 8x outdoors.
The only areas where it fell short was while out in the desert where sun was glaring off of the sand and especially while fishing. The catalyzing moment was when Captain Jay mentioned last week, "your bait is dancing around". Unfortunately, I couldn't see it (or the snook chasing it) because of the glare. However, with polarized lenses in his sunglasses he was able to see it easily. Despite the visual difference between polarized and non-polarized lenses though, my eyes were still comfortable and protected from the light in that situation. Polarization would have added that extra bit of benefit though.
Because They Aren't Polarized It's Easier to Use My Camera in Bright Sunshine
Ok, that might seem like a weird statement but the screens on cameras and phones are often polarized and when you rotate them out of phase with your polarized glasses the result is a black screen. That was INCREDIBLY frustrating while taking portrait images with my DSLR but I had no such issues while using these lenses. This means that I'm able to take better photos outside with less frustration!
Less Eye Strain From Long Sessions Working on my Computer
Honestly, I can't prove this with any quantifiable data and both XTRActive and Signature both protect from blue light emanating from computer monitors and fluorescent lights. However, I suspect that due to the slight shading and the fact that Transitions also added Crizal lenses as well that it's a combination of factors.
Less Glare and Reduced Eye Strain While Driving
Again, this may be at least partially due to the Crizal lenses, however I do notice that these Transtions XTRActive do tint darker while driving and I don't feel compelled to grab a pair of sunglasses to shield my eyes.
What's the Final Review ... Are Transitions XTRActive Right For You?
Honestly, only you can make that decision. For me personally, the answer is that these lenses are a gift from god. For 95% of daily life, I no longer need to carry a pair of sunglasses with me. For that remaining 5% of the time though - outdoor sports like fishing, skiing, hiking in the desert etc. it's honestly a good idea to invest in a good pair of sunglasses. This will not only provide a strong tint and polarization, but frames that are designed to protect above, below, and on the sides of your eyes too. I'm OK with that though because ultimately eye health is incredibly important to me and those situations aren't typoically alternating between light/dark areas like my daily life.
Like anything else though, make sure to talk with your vision professional and get their feedback. If you are ready to However, you can also learn more about Transitions XTRActive online and compare the different products available.