Transition to Electrochromics?

Posted on July 25, 2011 · Posted in Eyeglasses

There is no denying that high-quality prescription sunglasses offer unsurpassed visual comfort and protection from harmful UV radiation.  There is also no denying the inconvenience of carrying multiple pairs of glasses everywhere you go.  Enter the photochromic lens.

Most commonly known by the name of the industry leader Transitions, photochromic lenses offer the wearer the advantages of prescription sunglasses without the bulk of multiple pairs.  If there’s a most common perceived drawback to current photochromic technology, however, it’s the speed at which the full reaction occurs.  This is rarely a problem for most wearers, but certain professions (such as soldiers) would benefit greatly from a faster “transition” from light to dark or vice-versa.

Recent news out of the University of Connecticut suggests significant advances have been made.  In fact, Alphachromics, Inc. has developed a new technology that promises to offer near-instantaneous color change.

How is that possible, you ask?  The answer lies in a different method of “activating” the material.  Traditional photochromic lenses use sheets of film that are activated (darkened) by light.  The new technology, termed electrochromics, involves an electrical current flowing through the lenses. In addition to providing a faster reaction, the lenses are less expensive to produce (read less expensive to consumers) and create less waste during fabrication.

No word yet on how this electrical current will be supplied.  But rest assured that if plutonium is involved, Dr. Emmett Brown and Marty McFly will not be wearing electrochromic lenses.