I need to see better while biking.
May 29, 2016 11:12 AM   Subscribe

My plan A for prescription lenses for my biking glasses isn't going to pan out. What should plan B be?

I am farsighted - I can't see anything within about four feet of my face clearly. To remedy this in my normal life, I wear progressives, and they're great. I bike to work every day and also go on long weekend rides, and I generally just wear sunglasses, which is a problem on those days when I need to stop at the grocery store or for other errands on the way home. The riding itself doesn't pose a problem, but if I need to read a label or differentiate between types of green apples or whatever, I have to swap glasses, which means digging around in my bike bag and all that.

My riding glasses are Oakley Half Jackets, and I love them dearly for riding. I went to my annual eye doc appointment this week, and this year I was eligible for new lenses, so I thought I'd have them make some prescription lenses for my Half Jackets and that my riding life would be grand.

Sadly, my eye doc and the lens people at his office all said that it's nearly impossible to make quality progressive lenses for styles with as severe a wrap as the Oakleys have. They're really expensive, and apparently even when you spend the money, the curvature of the lens is such that they "wreak havoc", in my eye doc's words, with vision quality, causing all sorts of warping and artifacting and things like that.

So, given that my first option seems to not be an option, I was wondering - what sorts of sports optics have others with farsightedness found and liked? I'm resigned to the fact that progressive lenses are more expensive than single vision, and I'm OK paying for that; I just want to find a style of glasses that I can get progressive lenses for that will work.


Obviously, for me the gold standard is the Half Jacket, because that's what I've been using for years. Why?

- rubberized nose piece (I sweat a lot)
- wraps close to my face (I get that I will probably lose some of this with a different brand of glasses, but I still want some wrap if possible)
- tall lens (I have a broad face and like as complete of coverage as possible)

Is what I'm looking for even realistic, or am I too attached to my Oakleys?
posted by pdb to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total)
I know nothing about the Oakleys but I've seen Rudy Projects advertised in my optometrists.
posted by Rikocolin at 11:28 AM on May 29, 2016

Like your doc said, the difficulty is the lens curvature, no matter what brand of frame.... find another wraparound frame you like and he'll tell you the same thing he said about the Oakleys.

Bifocals work because you're not really seeing out of the whole left-to-right area: just the center. Even my *flat* bifocals have areas on each side of each lens that I can't see out of; that's just the way they work, sorry..... it's actually kind of surprising how little of the lens I'm looking through, and how much is unused territory.

Would you settle for sports goggles, or maybe wear the Oakleys over your current prescription glasses? Not as cool looking, but could work.
posted by easily confused at 11:29 AM on May 29, 2016

contacts? (although i don't know if you can get progressive contacts tbh)
posted by andrewcooke at 11:35 AM on May 29, 2016

I don't have a progressive prescription, but my eye doc sent me to this site to pick out a pair of goggles for MTB. Maybe there is something that would satisfy your needs.
posted by chiefthe at 11:38 AM on May 29, 2016

Can you just wear wraparound sunglasses over your regular glasses?
posted by Jacqueline at 11:42 AM on May 29, 2016

I don't have a progressive Rx, but my Rx is high enough that it won't work for lenses with any wrap at all, so we're in the same boat.

I tried the Rudy Project sunglasses that have the prescription glasses insert between your face and the sunglasses lenses, but my vision always felt weirdly distorted, like the first couple days after you get a new Rx, except it didn't go away after weeks of daily use. I do know a LOT of cyclists with weird/high Rxes that really like this option, though, so YMMV. The sunglasses themselves are absolutely wonderful and I wish I could have stuck with them.

When I ditched the Rudy Projects I started searching for non-wraparound sunglasses that were designed such that the frame itself provided some lateral protection from both sun and wind. I ended up with the Ray-Ban Daddy-Os and I've been super happy with them. They've got a close "wrap" at least for my (broad, round) face, and the lenses are both tall and wide. They do get a little problematic when I get super-sweaty, but not enough to be really annoying. Bonus: they're close enough to "normal" sunglasses that I wear them out and about, not just when riding.
posted by rhiannonstone at 12:07 PM on May 29, 2016

What about old-fashioned bifocals, the kind with lines? Should be good enough for your purposes if they work wth extreme wrap.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:17 PM on May 29, 2016

contacts? (although i don't know if you can get progressive contacts tbh)

I'm wearing progressive contacts even as I type, but it's pretty much impossible to get them as anything other than rigid gas permeable lenses, which have a much steeper learning/wearing curve than soft lenses. Also, many many dollar signs are involved.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:51 PM on May 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

As I understand it, the problem is less the wrap itself and more the fact the lens has a variable curve. Oakley makes a few of its athletic frame styles in Rx versions with a constant base curve (like, say, the Crosslink series). That might be a nice compromise between wrap and lens availability. The bad news is that (at least when I last tried) they only offer them in a limited prescription range. So, my vision is too bad for their lenses to be an option, but you might even be able to get Oakley-brand lenses with all their coatings if you pick one of their Rx frames. If not, you could still fake it with whatever your optician's lab can offer (by way of tint and coating) as long as it's a frame designed for a constant base curve lens.

Are your doctor's lens people actually surfacing the lenses in house, or are they having them made at one of the big labs? When I got prescription sunglasses there was a lot of "the lens you're wearing isn't available in a tint, but we could put you in X instead" and that involved phone calls to the lab.
posted by fedward at 1:04 PM on May 29, 2016

Googling "athletic prescription eyeglasses" brings a host of possibilities under both image search and shopping. Like these.

You can try to look cool, or have the "I have these glasses because I'm a no-holds-barred athlete", or just be another guy in the gym.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:13 PM on May 29, 2016

LL Bean, oddly enough, carries bifocal (not progressive) sports sun glasses, including the Suncloud Zephyr which has a fair bit of a wrap. They're not very expensive so they might be worth a look.
posted by skye.dancer at 2:25 PM on May 29, 2016

To come at it from a different angle, what about a small fanny pack or other bag that you automatically put your regular glasses in as you leave work? That way they're already on hand if you need to stop at a store.
posted by MsMolly at 3:05 PM on May 29, 2016

Honestly I'd take the low-tech approach and carry your regular glasses in an easy-to-find location on your bike or your person. If you're biking on the weekend, wear a bike jersey with the pockets in the back - that's what they're there for! Or get a small underseat pouch that just holds your glasses so you don't have to dig around in a bigger bag.
posted by radioamy at 3:49 PM on May 29, 2016

My friend has gone through a few different prescription glasses makers, and IIRC Oakleys have the prescription area ground out of a larger slab, so there's a border between the prescription part and the rest of the "blade." If they still make them this way, his problem was that the lenses cracked along that border. He likes and uses his current ones, which I forget the name (I can find out) which are of the style that put a prescription lens in a holder inside of the tinted part, like two layers: || (side view :).

Have you asked your eye doctor if you could get a single-vision prescription that could be useful for this purpose?
posted by rhizome at 4:06 PM on May 29, 2016

I tried the Rudy Project sunglasses that have the prescription glasses insert between your face and the sunglasses lenses

I have these, with progressive lenses, for frequent cycling, and they're fine. And expensive. I see just fine.
posted by JimN2TAW at 4:33 PM on May 29, 2016

I am seriously myopic and, now, also presbyopic. My solution has been to cycle in my regular glasses with progressive lenses and use Solar Shield over-the-glasses sunglasses. They look dorky, but frankly, no dorkier than regular cycling glasses, and they provide fairly good coverage. The nose bridge isn't rubberized but you could buy inexpensive stick-on pads. They're also a good mount for my Take-A-Look mirror.
posted by brianogilvie at 4:38 PM on May 29, 2016

There are sunglasses which are designed to fit over prescription glasses. Here's one.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:44 PM on May 29, 2016

I have prescription lenses for those exact same Oakleys from bicyclerx.com and I absolutely love them. On my third pair.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 5:19 PM on May 29, 2016

I have the same problem for cycling, albeit for nearsightedness. What I ended up doing, upon the suggestion of my eye doctor, was to get ONE contact lens. When I ride I wear it in my left eye and then proceed with whatever sunglasses I feel like using. After only a couple of minutes, my eyes train themselves so that I can see far away and up close. I was told that my brain will just use whatever eye is better suited for the task. This works great for me on long rides, but I immediately take out my lens when finished as I don't like it for everyday use.
posted by Captain Sunshine at 6:09 AM on May 30, 2016

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