Real Answers from Real Pilots


Not a question of if I can wear glasses or not, but if transition lenses (the ones that darken on their own) are any good in the cockpit? Or should I just get non transition lenses and separate sunglasses? Thanks in advance.



I’m going to go with: personal preference? The issue is usually just with the sunglasses. The safe bet is to use non-polarized. Polarized sunglasses don’t work well in airplanes with a glass cockpit.

I carry two sets: prescription lenses and prescription sunglasses. I like having the option of choosing between the two.

I believe @Chris might use transitions?


Hi Tory,

Thanks for the answer. I knew polarized lenses weren’t a good option (don’t use them at any rate) and just wanted to make sure that the transition wouldn’t cause a problem or if so what said problems might be. I am going to get another set for a backup soon.


I haven’t used transitions. So, I can’t say. I can’t say that I’ve flown with anyone that uses transitions either, but that doesn’t mean that transitions are problematic. I’m just saying that I can’t speak on them since I’ve never tried them.


I have actually found that polarized sunglasses work well in the 737.

Blockquote I have actually found that polarized sunglasses work well in the 737.

Is that because you don’t need fancy glasses to read steam gauges? :wink:

More seriously, past non-aviation experience with transitions is that they aren’t much of an issue during the day, but at night sometimes interior lights can cause the lenses to transition to dark, which might not allow you to see as well inside the flight deck. More modern transition lenses may have solved this issue, I haven’t tried any in a while.

I can see pros and cons to each side though. With the shorter days we have now I am flying more into twilight and trying to swap my prescription sunglasses for regular prescription glasses during a busy time such as coming in to land is a hassle and a potential distraction hazard.

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Thanks for the info Alex. Most likely I’ll stick with my current transitions for my primary pair and maybe just a regular prescription without as a backup as I start out with training and such. Then depending on how my experience adjust to what works better for myself.


Would love to get your feedback on how your transitions work out


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I will definitely be sharing my experiences as I go through the journey. Will just be a few months till I start due to finishing a prior commitment. But I will keep everyone updated.

I have not flown a steam gauge 737 in well over a decade. The new ones are all glass panels.

Sorry Chris, the wink should have been bigger.

Nothing to be sorry for. Interesting fact, when I first started flying the 737 at Continental, we had the 737-300, 500, 700, 800, and 900 series. Our 7,8, and 900s had glass displays, but they projected round dials. This was to keep them closer to the 300s that we were flying that were steam gauges.

I carry two pair of prescription glasses (in case one breaks), and a pair of prescription sunglasses. As nerdy as it sounds I also carry a set of the magnetic “flip-up” sunglasses to clip on my regular prescription glasses. The last thing I want to deal with when breaking through a layer on approach at dusk was the wrong glasses on my face. The flip up sunglasses allowed me to be able to very quickly transition from sunny on top of the layer to dark under it. A Captain at Great Lakes that flew the Alaskan bush before that taught me this “trick”.

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I actually did think bout getting a pair of ‘flip-up’ sunglasses for the back up pair. I have also given some thought into the dedicated prescription pair of sunglasses.

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