By Preston Fassel

A few years ago, I found myself green with envy when I learned that something I’d been waiting to get my hands on was finally being made available to patients and ECPs: Green Transitions. I’m an inveterate supporter of Ray-Ban G-15 as a sun lens color, and it was long a dream of mine to bring that color to my own photochromic lenses. Why envy? It’s because I left behind the dispensary for work as a full-time writer and consultant, effectively cutting off my pipeline to at-cost opti-merch only a matter of weeks before Transitions launched their Graphite Green lens.

This year, the opportunity finally came my way to give a pair of lenses a trial run, and boy did I jump at it. (According to a 2018 Transitions Optical and Center for Generation Kinetics survey, 80 percent of Millennial eyeglass wearers said they would buy Transitions lenses if they came with a guarantee they could get a refund if they didn’t like them after a week. Food for thought). After years of eager anticipation, would living the dream meet expectations?

Although there are green photochromics from other lens manufacturers including Rodenstock, Hoya and Seiko, Transitions Graphite Green lenses seem to be the closest thing on the market to a Ray-Ban G-15 photochromic. It’s right there in the name: These are graphite green, not Ray-Ban G-15, and any hard-and-fast aficionados of Ray-Ban might be disappointed to find some color differentiation. Graphite Green lenses lean closer to the gray end of the gray-green divide, giving them a certain mossy quality. It’s not bad—in fact, outdoors, it’s quite soothing, and with a very quick reaction time, I barely noticed when I was in bright-light conditions. The Graphite Green reaction time, compared to my Signature Brown Transitions, is much closer to the time it takes XTractive to change. They also react in my car so I was able to drive without having to switch to my sunglasses.

On an aesthetic level, the Graphite Green pairs well with multiple frame colors. For patients obsessed with color coordination between lenses and frames, Graphite Green is the perfect middle ground. It looks and “feels” close enough to a classic gray for patients who are put off by brown, but it has the contrast enhancing and relaxing properties of brown. Win, win, win!

The only drawback I found to Graphite Green lies in its similarities to XTractive. While they have a quick reaction time, they also take much longer to transition back to clear indoors. A day after I got them, I wore them to the mall, and after browsing the menswear section for a while, I thought I’d accidentally left my sunglasses on until I took my frames off and realized that my lenses hadn’t gotten completely clear yet. Even when they are totally clear, there’s a faint, mossy-green cast to the lenses. I contacted the Essilor rep who worked with Transitions to get me the sample lenses to make sure I hadn’t accidentally been dispensed a pair of XTractive lenses, only to find out they were indeed Signature VII. For many patients, the pros may outweigh the cons, but they are some cons to be aware of.

Ultimately, Graphite Green is on its way to being one of Transitions’ most valuable products. As a newer lens, there are some kinks in the system. I’d like to see a version that maintains the quick reaction time and darkness behind the windshield, but turns clear more quickly and doesn’t have that cast. With those bugs out of the way, they’re a wonderful “wild card” photochromic for patients who want absolutely the most mileage out of their lenses, aesthetically and functionally. They’re a lens whose evolution I’ll be watching very closely.