Most people are spending more time outdoors to get that much needed exercise, as regualr routines are disrupted by the strict COVID-19 restrictions. Future speculations reveal that working-from-home may well be a permanent arrangement for some workers whether it be part-time or full-time. This means that outdoor exercise will be more common as the incidental exercise we normally get from work like walking to the train station/bus stop, walking to a coffee shop for a couple of coffees a day and lunch, moving around for face to face meetings and taking stairs to avoid crowded escalators will all disappear from our daily step count.

As we take up more outdoor activities the risks to our eyes increases.

Everyone needs eye protection for outdoor hazards like harsh glare, UV radiation, tree branches, insects and ocular sunburn which can cause eye diseases like cataracts, macualr degeneration, ptygergium and basal cell carcinomas around eyelids and surrounding skin of the eyes.

So eyewear outdoors is crucial to safe, comfortable vision and the prevention of eye disease. If you don’t need a vision prescription outdoors then a good pair of regualr sunglasses will do. If you are a constant spectacle wearer then the question is which lenses suit you better; transitions or prescription sunglasses?

Transitions lenses have the advantage of only needing one pair of glasses as you can wear them indoors and outdoors. These lenses intelligently change from clear to dark when you go outdoors and back to clear when you return inside. They can reach up to 70% darkness outdoors, automatically adapting to light conditions. They give 100% UV protection against damaging UVA and UVB radiation and are available in colours grey, brown, amethyst, amber, sapphire blue, emerald, and graphite green. Transitions can be worn DAY and NIGHT as they change back to fully clear, however, they don’t always fully activate while day driving as they are activated by UV light which doesn’t reach them in a car. The tint varies according to the amount of light present and they can be added to any form of lens ie reading, driving or multifocal.

Prescription sunglasses on the other hand have a fixed tint in any colour and shade you choose from 10% (cosmetic tint) to 85% (very dark) and we can even match the tint of a favourite pair of sunglasses you own, and whatever colour or shade you choose the UV protection will be 100% complaint with Australian regulations as our labs add extra UV coating on top of your desired tint.

Prescription sunglasses can be POLARISED which eliminates harsh glare caused by the sun on wet, smooth and shiny surfaces like the road and water. They are definitely better for long distance driving as they enhance contrast and depth perception even in difficult driving conditions like when the sun is low in the sky like a Sydney winter or with reflections on a wet road after a heavy pour or constant drizzle.

I aksed some patients their thoughts on both options.

Danielle, 17, student, said she prefers her Maui Jim sunglasses for long walks with her dog as they protect against glare on overcast days.

Colin, 55, on his fourth pair of transition lenses, says he feels confident his eyes are protected from UV and glare as he moves from indoors to outdoors without changing lenses. If he forgets his sunglasses he still has protection as the trasnitions are always on his face and that is the whole point of them: CONVENIENCE and PROTECTION.

Natalia, 52, said she prefers transition lenses for the CONVENIENCE of not having to change glasses and carry two pairs of glasses in her bag, which often is a small handbag with limited space.

So the decision is up to the individual and their lifestyles. If you still are undecided call and speak with one of our highly trained team members or Optometrists who will help you decide.

Personally, the winner for me outdoors is prescription sunglasses because I like the rose tint of my Maui Jims which is not too dark and very relaxing to look through.  My ordinary glasses are transitions, again for the glare protection as I move from indoors to ouitdoors for short periods of time or if I forget my prescription sunglasses – Laura