Photochromic sunglasses which can darken or lighten depending on how much ultraviolet radiation they come into contact with have been around for years. Until now, folks who wear contact lenses haven’t been quite so lucky, unfortunately. That is about to change, however, thanks to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration officially giving its seal of approval to the first contact lenses which incorporate photochromic elements.
Thanks to a special additive, the lenses will automatically darken when they’re exposed to bright light while becoming clear again in normal or dark lighting conditions. As such, they offer vision correction that will continuously balance their tint to control the amount of light entering each eye. The upshot is that you get a bit of added protection from the sun, while also having the chance to scare the bejesus out of your co-workers with your reflective black shark eyes! (Although we’re assuming that, in reality, the effect is a little bit more subdued than that.)
“This contact lens is the first of its kind to incorporate the same technology that is used in eyeglasses that automatically darken in the sun,” Malvina Eydelman, who oversees the ophthalmic, and ear, nose and throat devices for the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.
The Acuvue Oasys Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology are produced by Johnson and Johnson Vision Care. The soft contact lenses are designed for daily use up to a maximum of 14 days for people who are both nearsighted and farsighted. They can additionally be used by folks with certain types of astigmatism, an abnormal curvature of the eye. In total, upward of 40 million Americans wear contact lenses, meaning that there is a potentially massive market for this technology.
The lenses are the result of more than a decade of product development and clinical trials involving more than 1,000 patients. According to current plans, they will be available to buy in the first half of 2019.
Other photochromic technology we’ve recently covered at Digital Trends include special windows developed by researchers at Stanford University which switch from dark to clear depending on an electric current.