Contact lenses that automatically darken when the wearer goes outside are cleared to hit the market after the innovation got a green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month.
The technology, which has been available in eyeglasses since the 1960s, is the result of a collaboration between Johnson & Johnson Vision and Transitions Optical. The lenses will be marketed under the Acuvue Oasys brand, Johnson & Johnson said in a press release.
The product is the first of its kind, the FDA said in its announcement of the approval on April 10. Johnson & Johnson said it’s been working to bring the adaptive contacts to market for more than a decade.
They will be sold as soft lenses suitable for daily use for up to 14 days and can be worn by those who are nearsighted or farsighted. They can be used by some people with certain degrees of astigmatism, but not by anyone with diseased eyes, the FDA said.
They are made with a photochromic additive that reacts molecularly to change the amount of light filtering into the eyes based on the amount of ultraviolet light they are exposed to. That means they will darken in bright sunlight, and return to a clear tint in normal or dark light.
The company has not released images of how the darkened lens appears on the human eye, but a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the developers worked to ensure they don’t significantly alter the eye’s natural color.
“That’s who you are — we didn’t want to change that,” said Donna Lorenson, a vice president in communications at Johnson & Johnson Vision.
Lorenson told the outlet that a gray tint may be perceptible on light-colored eyes, but on brown eyes they should go unnoticed.
Acuvue Oasys with Transitions are expected to be available for purchase early next year.