How Much Do Transition Lenses Cost?

Written by: Staff

Transition lenses, also referred to as photochromic lenses, are a brand name UV-protected lens that has the ability to change from a clear to a darker color when exposed to sunlight.

These adaptive lenses can be used on any type of glasses to help minimize eye fatigue and strain.  When light conditions change, transition lenses adjust rapidly to provide a suitable level of tint.

March 11, 2012 by osseous, on Flickr
March 11, 2012” (CC BY 2.0) by osseous

How much do transition lenses cost?

Depending on a few factors, such as the material, type and coating, the costs will range anywhere from as little as $150 to as much as $350 for just the lenses without insurance.  This price won’t include your prescription or the frames.  By the time you add in the prescription, frames and the lens, the average consumer reported paying anywhere from $250 to $450 without any insurance.  Those who did have a vision insurance policy reported paying 10 to 50 percent of this price.

If you already received a quote for a basic pair of prescription glasses, then it’s safe to add another $60 to $125 to that price to get a feel for what you would pay for Transitions.

The final price, according to the official Transitions website, will depend on a few factors, including the lens material, your prescription, the lens types, coatings, the exact lens product you choose and if insurance is involved.

At Eyeglass Lens Direct, for example, they listed 14 Transitions lens options ranging from as little as $100 for a lightweight plastic CR-39 to as much as $357 for a high index 1.74 lens.  These were prices for the lenses only did not include the frames.

Walmart, when we called over the phone, said you should add about $60 more if you were to upgrade to a Transitions lens.  If you were to buy the cheapest frames, they said it was safe to budget at least $175 to $275 without insurance.  This price would increase if you needed a need a new prescription.

LensCrafters, another popular vision retailer we called, had said it would cost about $350 for the frames and the Transitions for the average prescription; however, it could greatly vary depending on your insurance and the frames you picked out.  This was just a conservative estimate.

What are the extra costs?

Since these lenses will require a prescription, an eye exam will be necessary.  Most eye exams, depending on your insurance and where you go, can cost anywhere from $50 to $100.  In some cases, a vision retailer may significantly lower the costs if you purchase the frames directly from them after the exam.

The frames will be an additional expense to consider, and just like the lenses, this will depend on the type and where you purchase them.  Be prepared to spend anywhere from as little as $10 for a basic frame to more than $250 for a designer frame.

A premium eyeglass case, if you were to upgrade from the standard case that comes with your glasses, can cost up to $30 more.

A coating, such as an anti-reflective coating, can cost an additional $100 if you were to add this option.

Tips to know:

The Transitions line includes Transitions® Signature™, Transitions® XTRActive™, Transitions® Drivewear™ and Transitions® Vantage™.

Most Transition lenses will not replace sunglasses as they don’t stay dark inside of a car.

Transitions lenses problems do exist.  For instance, they won’t work in the car because the car’s windshield is designed to block the UV rays that are necessary to activate the lenses’ darkening mechanism, but this isn’t the case for all Transition lenses.  The Drivewear™ line, for example, tackles this problem by adjusting the colors and tint of the lenses while driving.  Next, you may have to take off your glasses while taking photos as it can obscure your eyes.

How can I save money?

If you do have vision insurance, talk with your provider ahead of time to ensure you’re visiting a location that will accept your insurance.

If you’re wearing glasses right now and the frames are still in good shape, consider keeping these frames and using them for your new lenses to help save you money.

As mentioned above, some vision retailers offer special promotions or coupons from time to time.  Being a competitive industry, it shouldn’t be hard to find a discount eye exam deal or a certain percentage off the frames and/or lenses.  Shop around and talk with at least three offices before making an appointment.

Frames and lenses can be much cheaper if you were to use an online retailer instead of your optometrist’s office.  By law, they have to give you your prescription when you leave, and this is the only thing you will need in order to buy your frames and lenses online.

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