Riding glasses for cyclist - what are the options?
January 9, 2013 6:34 AM   Subscribe

I wear glasses and when I ride my bike the wind whips and eddies around them and makes my eyes water, so I end up riding with tears streaming down my face.

I looked at riding glasses online but as I already wear glasses they won't really work. One option is to have a pair made up by my optician, but that will likely be expensive and I am not due an eye test for a while.

What are my options?

Riding details - just for riding to/from work and friends houses, I do not race or off-road.

Eye details - short-sighted old git at point where near and far vision is separating, so will need bi- or vari- focals next time.

Location - I am in the UK.
posted by marienbad to Travel & Transportation (28 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Ski goggles, made to fit over glasses
posted by MangyCarface at 6:36 AM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

No perfect solution, but a consideration: I got Rx sunglasses that provide better side coverage, but they block my peripheral vision and that's pretty unnerving. So maybe look for some with lenses that wrap around to the sides...
posted by ecsh at 6:39 AM on January 9, 2013

I have wrap-around Oakleys with prescription lenses. Absolutely love them. They come with a really nice protective case, too.

Have had mine for 3 years now, regular use, the only issue I've had is losing a rubber nose pad cover. But I didn't even realize it until looking at them closely while on vacation recently. No idea where it was lost or how. No scratches, great peripheral vision (I even wear them casually as a result), and all that despite several clashes with bugs, sandy beach trips, and the occasional drop on the ground. So yes, can't recommend quality wrap-arounds enough. They are expensive... but honestly, mine still look new after 3 years and traveling around the world. I can't remember ever keeping a less-expensive pair longer than 2, and that was pushing it with them.
posted by fraula at 6:45 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have Bolle Parole glasses with a prescription insert. They have interchangeable wrap-around non-prescription tinted or clear lenses (useful for bike commuting in the dark) with the corrective lens fitting behind those. I've been pretty happy with them, but the double lens system is a little more likely to fog compared to a single lens - more a problem when skiing than cycling. And they were kind of expensive as well.
posted by exogenous at 6:58 AM on January 9, 2013

I have a prescription that's too strong for most prescription cycling glasses (-6.75 in one eye...), so I use Solar Shield over-the-glasses sunglasses. They offer a range of sizes and styles. I find that the amber contrast-enhancing lens is my favorite all-around one, though it does distort colors. The Panorama model works best for me. They don't completely block the wind, but they block 90% of it.

According to their website, Boots sells them. But they're not listed on Boots' website, so who knows?

For colder weather (below 0° C/32° F), I'm getting a pair of self-ventilating ski goggles. But it's been warm here in New England so I may not need them for a while.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:04 AM on January 9, 2013

I prefer Kroops racing goggles to ski goggles for biking in the wind. They are less money, more lightweight, less prone to fogging, and less tight around my head than my ski goggles. I don't have to worry about glare when I bike like I do when I ski, so I am happy to have two different tools for two different jobs.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:21 AM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

That'll teach me not to read my own links. I would have sworn they had over-the-eyeglasses goggles on that page, but I see they don't. It appears their over the eyeglasses goggles are now on their totally different Skydiving Goggles website.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:24 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

On the cheaper side, I bought wordworking/construction glasses from my local hardware store to deal with cold air while cycling. If I remember correctly from woodshop as a teen, these can fit over glasses. Otherwise, I wear contacts when riding my bike as I tear up a lot if I try to ride in glasses.
posted by loriginedumonde at 7:37 AM on January 9, 2013

I take eye protection seriously when riding and have explored almost every option. One of the most practical items I have found came from a motorcycle fashion accessory store, the kind that sells leather, wallets on chains, cheap sunglasses, etc. I got a simple one piece goggle designed to fit over eyeglasses or sunglasses which is way lower in profile than ski goggles. This item has been priceless to me as when I ride in the cold I have had my corneas freeze and cloud up into temporary cataracts. I highly reccomend this...
posted by No Shmoobles at 7:47 AM on January 9, 2013

For about $5 US you can get safety goggles used in most woodworking shops or other places you need to protect your eyes from flying debris. I am sure in London at a local hardware store they will have clear protective goggles that fit over your glasses. This is a link to an Amazon seller in the US, but I am sure there is the same or similar products in the UK.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:50 AM on January 9, 2013

I've considered, but never bought cheap sports glasses from a site like Zennioptical.com (Not an endorsement, just a link I stumbled upon.) They've got prescription goggles at really low prices. I'd love to hear any feedback about them if anyone has used them.
posted by Brooklyn_Jake at 7:52 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Side shields?
posted by 517 at 7:57 AM on January 9, 2013

I also like the Kroops goggles.
posted by pullayup at 8:00 AM on January 9, 2013

I have been wearing the Zenni prescription goggles for a couple years now for nordic skiing where one experiences the same eye watering problems. They work great, look cool,super cheap. Only need to get single vision for sports. However, others who have tried mine on said they don't like the way their eyelashes are so close to the lens, brush against it. Doesn't bother me.
posted by canoehead at 8:18 AM on January 9, 2013

Tifosi Tyrant Photochromic Sunglasses.

I am one of those people who never buys sunglasses costing more than $10 bucks and these Tifosi glasses are the best $70 bucks I've ever spent.

They're clear but tint with light levels, so you don't have to worry about seeing on cloudy days or dealing with clear glasses on sunny days. The nerd-factor could be a little better, but they saved my eyes during a Half Ironman in the rain, another Half Ironman in blistering sun and countless other long rides.
posted by floweredfish at 8:23 AM on January 9, 2013

Try "safety glasses" online. I've used various types before.

These look useful: Over-the-glasses safety glasses
posted by kythuen at 9:18 AM on January 9, 2013

Possibly relevant question (and I swear not being asked for judgey reasons), since I wear all sorts of giant ridiculous sunglasses while cycling with a helmet on and don't have a problem: do you wear a helmet while you ride? If not, a helmet may do something to help with the aero-dynamics of your glasses.

Otherwise, would a sports strap help keep them stable and in place?
posted by urbanlenny at 9:35 AM on January 9, 2013

Through the years, I have bought several rimless pairs of spectacles online, at Zennioptical, with prescription lenses. The ones that have the tightest fit have become my bike riding glasses too.

It is the cheapest useful option I have found so far.

The only problem I have had with these is that with the rimless models the glasses can develop little cracks after some time, around the screws that go through the glass. Reason enough not to buy that exact same model again next time.
posted by ijsbrand at 9:39 AM on January 9, 2013

Are contact lenses an option for you at all? I wear glasses during the day at work, but anytime I do anything athletic -- especially cycling because of the peripheral vision aspect -- I wear contacts and sunglasses.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 9:42 AM on January 9, 2013

Before I switched to contacts, I used a pair of Ray Ban Aviators as my cycling glasses. The lenses were large enough to block air currents.
posted by supercres at 9:47 AM on January 9, 2013

For cycling you could probably get away with just correcting your distant vision since, unless you obsess about your speedometer or odometer, it's not like you really need to pay careful attention to anything really close.

I usually wear a pair of sunglasses purchased from a shop catering to welders and machinists, and they usually have something that would go over normal glasses (with either clear or tinted lenses - and usually VERY cheap - on the order of $5). I've also gotten bifocal safety glasses pretty cheap, but they were all readers, so exactly NOT what you really need, but still, safety glasses tend to be consumables in some environments and virtually everyone working in an industrial setting needs protective eye-wear, so your optician may be able to pleasantly surprise you.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:57 AM on January 9, 2013

I use a pair of prescription rec specs that work great. The only problem is that in certain weather they can fog up, so I just keep I little tub of Cat Crap in my bike kit.
posted by hannahelastic at 10:30 AM on January 9, 2013

Regarding wearing bifocals/multifocals on a bike: I've been wearing (and, hence, riding in) progressives for about two years now, and when I get my next pair of glasses for riding, I'm going to get them distance-only. Having the closer-vision section at the bottom is not good, I've found.
posted by Lexica at 10:51 AM on January 9, 2013

Solve your eye problem, reduce the effort it takes to pedal, and keep much warmer (especially your hands) all at once with a fairing.
posted by jamjam at 10:51 AM on January 9, 2013

I have these cheap plastic aviator-style frames from Zenni that I use for cycling. My pair is red; they have plain black and other styles. The lenses are big and wide and give me a lot of coverage, and also curve around my face. No problems with eddies, but I guess everyone's face is different. One nice thing is that the lenses are far enough from my eyes so my eyelashes don't brush them, which was a problem with every pair of cycling glasses I tried.

The only problems are that the film they put on for transition lenses (photochromatic) has started to peel up at the edges, and that I've been told I look like Dov Charney.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:25 AM on January 9, 2013

Do you cycle year-round or is this mainly for the winter? As someone mentioned up thread, ski goggles work really well and aren't uncommon to see in the winter. Goggles are also handy during inclement weather in other seasons, especially when wind is directing rain right in your eyes.
posted by mayurasana at 2:06 PM on January 9, 2013

I use a pair of prescription cycling sunglasses from bicyclerx.com. Total cost, including prescription from one of those one-hour places was about $200, and I'm pretty sure they make bifocals. It also looks like they make cycling sunglasses that actually fit over your existing glasses.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:20 PM on January 9, 2013

Thanks for all the great answers, will work my way through the links.

Contact lenses? Oh my god no!

Seasons? All year round.
posted by marienbad at 4:29 AM on January 10, 2013

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