Johnson & Johnson has teamed up with Transitions Optical, the company known for making those glasses that automatically darken when you go outside, to bring the unique technology to contact lenses. If you hate wearing glasses, they’ll save you from also having to wear sunglasses outdoors, but only if you’re okay with having creepy alien eyes.
Transitions’ lenses are embedded with photochromic molecules that react and change their molecular structure when exposed to ultraviolet light. As a result of the structural change, they’re able to absorb more light as it tries to pass through, shielding the wearer’s eyes, and darkening the lenses.
So far, the technology has only been available in glasses, but Johnson & Johnson claims it’s spent the past 10 years adapting the Transitions tech for use in contact lenses. After clinical trials involving over a thousand patients, the company’s new Acuvue Oasys with Transitions contact lenses have been cleared by the FDA, and should be available sometime in the first half of 2019.
The two-week disposable contacts will presumably work similar to how Transitions glasses do, slowly darkening when you step outside and are exposed to ultraviolet light. Because most windows filter out UV light, when you come back indoors the lenses will slowly lighten again. Although the technology has been around since 1962, Transitions glasses still seem like space-age technology given they don’t rely on electronics or batteries to work. But while they’re quite common these days, it’s probably going to take some time to get used to seeing people wearing the contact lens versions, which will have the unsettling effect of darkening a wearer’s irises.