Somo EZ Tint vs Vision Ease Continua Comparison
As anyone who has tried tinting polycarbonate lenses knows, it can be difficult to have them receive the tint color, and if you get regular stock lenses, it can sometimes be impossible!
Two very popular options in the Opticians arsenal, are the Somo EZ Tint lenses, and the Continua Lenses made by Vision Ease. Both companies produce excellent quality lenses and are widely known in the optical industry as being the go-to lenses, especially for single vision polycarbonate lenses that are tintable.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages compared to its competitor, but which tints better? That was my question, so I conducted a non-technical test to see which brand of lenses would be easier to accept tint color and which would get darker.
Before I get to the testing, I want to quickly highlight some of the pros and cons of each:
First, let's start with the Somo EZ Tint:
- Pro-Less expensive;
- Con-Smaller diameter lenses available
Next, the Vision Ease Continua:
- Pro-75mm lens options for minus lenses (nice for bigger frames, larger decentration, etc.);
- Pro-The 65mm plus power lenses are aspheric which can make lens insertion easier into flatter frames;
- Con-Slightly more expensive
I also personally like how Vision Ease puts their barcodes along the top of the packaging, making scanning of the lenses for inventory tracking much easier (by not having to separate the lenses slightly for the scanner to reach in between the lenses during cycle counts). If you've ever had to scan hundreds (thousands?) of lenses at a time, you know how helpful such a small detail like that makes.
To begin our test, I placed each lens above its original package and right away, you'll notice that the Vision Ease lens is slightly bigger (the Somo is 70mm, the VE is 75mm). For plus lenses, they both are 65mm in diameter, but for minus lenses, VE has a 5mm advantage.
To begin the test, I made sure our BPI tinting machine was fully up to the proper tempreture (the heat should be maintained between 200 and 205 degress Ferenheit).
Bigger Isn't Always Better!
In this case, it's very easy to identify each lens because the Vision Ease lens is slightly bigger than the Somo lens (VE on the right in the photo below).
Honest Testing Is The Goal
Instead of submerging each lens independantly, I made sure to dip them into the tint bath at the same time, and remove them at the same time; every time. This would help avoid any unwanted varibles and would help to ensure a fair comparison between the two.
Tint Color After One Minute
It surprised me at just how much tint the Somo lenses absorbed after only one minute, but its obvoius that the Somo lenses are darker already.
Tint Color After Two Minutes
After two minutes, the Somo lenses are much darker than the tintable lenses from Vision Ease. Note that the two blocks at the very top of this picture (and each picture following) represent how many minutes the lenses were in the tint bath (two blocks=two minutes, three blocks=three minutes, etc.). I did this so I could not only keep track of the time during the tinting process, but to visually show the duration as well.
Tint Color After Three Minutes
Tint Color After Four Minutes
Tint Color After Five Minutes
Typically, five minutes is more than enough time in the tint bath. Some coatings can even be damaged in heat for this long; however, I carefully inspected both lenses after every duration to check for spots, haziness, peeling, etc. and both lenses held up extremely well.
Tint Color After Ten Minutes
At this point, since they both held up so well for five minutes, I wondered how they would fare for ten minutes? Needless to say, I was impressed by both lenses as neither coating failed on either lens.
Tint Color After Twenty Minutes
Now I'll admit, I was just having fun at this point and we are well over the recommended time limit lenses should be in the tinter at 205 degress, but both lenses not only held up flawlessly, but they even darkened just ever so slightly more! Of course, this would typcially be impractible to tint lenses this long, but I wanted to see the theroritical maximum tint each lens would accept (could they get even darker if left in longer?! Maybe that will be a test for another time!).
Without a doubt, the Somo EZ Tint lenses get darker than the Vision Ease Continua. The speed at which they received the tint even after one minute will be especially helpfull to the small labs that are usually understaffed and overworked (how many of us left lenses in the tinter to multi-task other jobs! Now how many times have you forgot about lenses in the tinter because you got so caught up on what else you were doing? I know I have, lol!).
The bigger size diameter lenses from Vision Ease will definately be helpful in certain situations, and a more accurate way to test would be to actually test the transmission percentages, but for now, this will suffice for me. We do many tints and they are a wonderful addition to any small lab to be able to do in-house. I'm really impressed with how well the Somo lenses did in this test, and I can only hypothizie that they would be equally superior with gradient tints as well.
So which lenses are best for your practice? I leave that up to my readers and fellow Opticians to decide. The Somo lenses certainly tinted darker than the Vision Ease, but there's more to tinting than that. Not everybody needs the darkest tints possible, and speaking from experience, Vision Ease's customer service is truly top-notch, and that in itself goes a long way. In addition, the bigger lens options can be the difference between a stock lens and having to surface the lens, millimeters matter!
I invite you to leave a comment below: Which lenses do you use? Do you have experience tinting a different brand of lens (these certainly aren't the only two!)? Have ideas for other reviews/comparisons like this? Please remember that sharing your experience helps the community as we learn from each other.
Need lab work done? We're always looking to help our fellow Opticians and Eye Doctors! Please check out our dedicated page for more info. and I thank you for your time.
Neil F. Uher II, ABO-AC