Contact lenses that darken in the sun? FDA says yes

The first contacts that change in different lighting conditions have received FDA approval.

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Rochelle Garner is features editor for CNET News. A native of the mythical land known as Silicon Valley, she has written about the technology industry for more than 20 years. She has worked in an odd mix of publications -- from National Geographic magazine to MacWEEK and Bloomberg News.
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Walking out into bright sunlight can be hell when wearing contact lenses, which tend to make many people ultrasensitive to strong light. Now, thanks to the FDA approving light-reactive contact lenses, we may no longer have to get all teary-eyed while groping for sunglasses. 

The Food and Drug Administration last week approved photochromic soft contact lenses that automatically darken when exposed to bright lights. Johnson & Johnson says its Acuvue Oasys Contact Lenses with Transitions Light Intelligent Technology can be worn daily for up to 14 days.

"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 said in a statement. Eydelman is the director of the Division of Ophthalmic, and Ear, Nose and Throat Devices at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. 

The National Eye Institute at the National Institutes of Health estimates that 42 percent of Americans ages 12 to 54 are nearsighted and 5 to 10 percent of all Americans are farsighted. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 40 million Americans wear contacts.


This shows the lens's transition from clear to dark. 

Johnson & Johnson

The contact lenses contain a photochromic coating that adapts to UV light exposure. Johnson & Johnson says the lenses will automatically return to a regular tint when exposed to normal or dark lighting conditions.