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3M Smart Lens Photochromic Safety Glasses – be safe and look cool too? [Review]


If you are like most of us you have two eyes. Sure they may not be as handsome to look at as mine, but you likely have two of them, and they are probably located on your head somewhere above the nose. It’s important to remember that your eyes are pretty tough to replace. Sure you could buy these things, but while they may look cool, they could cause difficulty with your depth perception.

The better choice is to protect the eyes that were preloaded into your head. That is where (wear!) the 3M Smart Lens Photochromic Protective Eyewear comes into play. Not only will these glasses block flying objects from popping your eye like a grape but they will also block 99.9% of the UVA and B rays that are present. This means you can prevent the premature puncturing and cooking of your eyes both at the same time!

The clever part is the 3M Smart Lens is able to block UV rays by self tinting (The fancy word is that they are “Photochromic”). The polycarbonate lens contains a dye which, when exposed to light, darkens and can reduce the amount of light (22% to be exact) that is transmitted through the lens. To put simply – when exposed to light the lens gets darker.

I am sure you have seen self-tinting glasses before, and in fact many of your favorite elderly aunts and uncles probably own a pair. However these glasses are different.

1- They are safety glasses – which means that you are supposed to automatically look like a nerd when wearing them.

2- These glasses actually look, gasp, almost cool! Remember the days when safety goggles made you look like an alien? No more.

Check out my video review for the hands-on.

Now, all photochromic lenses have one flaw. There is a finite number of times that they can switch from light to dark, or in some cases, how long they can *stay* dark. It is a fatigue phenomena, so after a certain number of exposures to intense light the dye in the lens, eventually stays dark.

You can combat this by keeping your glasses in the nice pouch that is provided and/or storing your glasses in a dark area. Another great idea, never leave them sitting on the dash board of your vehicle.


– Passes the ANSI Z80.3-2009 safety standard for traffic signal requirements (no, I did not just make that up).

– Passes the ANSI Z87.1-2010. for impact resistance.

– Lightweight magnesium alloy nose piece provides strength and comfort

– Transition from light to dark in 20 seconds

– Transition from dark to light in less than 3 minutes

– Polycarbonate lens that blocks 99.9% of the UVA and B rays.

– When darkened the lens allows 22% of light transmission – so these are not the darkest of sunglasses, but they do darken to a significant level.

– When “clear” they allow 77.5% of light to be transmitted through the lens.

– Comes with a nice felt pouch for storage.

Conclusion – Who would benefit from these self-tinting safety glasses? Well to start with, anyone with eyes (or an eye in the case of a cyclops), but especially anyone who works outside or spends their days between indoors and out (such as a builder).

Cost – retails for between $50 – $70 … but hey, a new eyeball (even if it is just glass) will cost you much more!

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