Sunglasses for paddlesports and aging eyes
May 19, 2024 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Looking for an optimal sports sunglasses + progressive prescription solution for sea kayaking.

A couple of years ago now, I bit the bullet and accepted that I would benefit from progressive lenses, and they’re pretty great. I don’t have to peer over the top of my glasses to look at my watch or phone anymore. I do need to have separate specs for sitting at the computer, but that’s all right.

The main problem I now have is that I am an avid sea kayaker, and I haven’t yet found a solution that works for sunglasses, progressives, and ability to take abuse.

I have tried wearing my normal progressives with over-the-glasses sunglasses, but my normal specs are delicate, and the sunglasses are bulky, and heavy on the face, and even with croakies, I don’t know what would happen were I to go for a swim.

I am currently using an old prescription single-vision with clip ons, but that gives me eye fatigue.

Are there any sportswear eyewear companies that do progressives and won’t break the bank?
posted by jimfl to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Not quite progressives but Maui Jim lighthouses, the most durable shades I've ever had, are goooooregous on the water and come with a "reader strip" along the bottom in various prescriptions. These glasses are 100 plastic and if you sit on them they just snap back together. If the nose pads or armpads wear out they replace them for free. If you scratch up a lense they replace it for like 30 bucks.
posted by Iteki at 10:37 AM on May 19

So for me, for paddle boarding, I just attach a strap to my glasses, which have the auto darken in the sun kind of lenses. I use the type of strap that cinches up tight so the glasses pretty much can’t come off my head without loosening the strap manually. This has held up fine to accidental and intentional trips into the water.

But I went through SportRx for my snowboarding goggles and bought them with a prescription progressive snap-in and this is the best money I have ever spent. Like - I would be more likely to scrimp on a board than these going forward, that’s how much I love them.

So you may want to check what their prices are for progressive sunglasses.
posted by hilaryjade at 10:37 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]

Your best bet is to take your prescription with you when you go to brick and mortar opticians, (LensCrafters, Sears Optical, Pearle Vision, America's Best, etc.). Pick out sporty frames. The optician will tell you if your prescription will work with the selected frames. Frames that have a severe curvature might not work for you if the distance part your distance prescription is too strong. (the peripheral vision would be really thick and really distorted) There are third parties who make clip-ins for Oakley M frames (example or Amazon + Oakley or just the prescription insert) where they take Oakleys and make a nose piece + prescript lens frame to replace Oakley's own nose piece
posted by dlwr300 at 10:47 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]

I was going to recommend mirrored UVEX Genesis safety glasses with a prescription inserts. Glasses with insert were less than $100 and the prescription would be what ever you wanted via your regular optometrist. However they seem to be discontinued in anything but clear.

So I lack a specific recommendation but the general recommendation still would apply. Safety glasses can be cheap and somewhat stylish while providing UV protection. And paired with a prescription insert protect your expensive RX lenses behind a cheap and durable disposable lens.

They also wrap around providing splash and wind protection while providing regular corrected vision protection.
posted by Mitheral at 10:56 AM on May 19

Best answer: With the massive caveat that I cycle (and occasionally run), and don't sea kayak: I use and love Oakley Flak 2.0 glasses with Oakley progressive prescription lenses. I'm 55 years old and I've worn these for cycling for the 10 years I've had glasses, and they are fantastic in all weather conditions - sun, rain, heat, cold, you name it. They stay stuck to my face in any situation (I sweat a LOT, and they grip like crazy), they're lightweight, and the progressive lenses have a wide enough field of correction that the correctiveness even encompasses a bit of peripheral vision in addition to straight-ahead correction.

I'm not sure what your definition of "break the bank" is, as these are not necessarily cheap, but I promise you, as someone who didn't want to spend a lot either but did - if you bite the bullet and pay for these once, they will last you a long, long time and be worth every penny. I tried many other cobbled-together solutions before landing on these, and at this point I will never, ever do athletic stuff with anything other than these.

They also have (very easily) removable lenses, so over time if your prescription changes, you can update your lenses and just pop 'em in your existing frames.
posted by pdb at 11:15 AM on May 19

Not progressive, but you can turn any pair of sunglasses into "readers" using bifocal stickers. I've used these, but others exist. They are removable and basically just stick on using water and dry in place. Work great and easy enough to try for $20.
posted by qwip at 12:45 PM on May 19 [2 favorites]

I feel your pain. I've tried all sorts of combinations over the years but have now settled on something that works about 95% of the time. I've worn glasses for almost 40 years and, as well as having a complex prescription, am getting older and that makes things worse. I have a fairly active life and hate wearing glasses when trying to do anything active, with multi-focal glasses making that much worse.

I've settled on a 'glasses over contacts' solution - I wear contacts all the time with a prescription for distance vision (1.5m and out) and use glasses that have a prescription for closer distances when combined with the contacts. It's not perfect, but it's as close as I've been able to get. I wear the glasses when I'm working or reading etc and the rest of the time I don't need glasses at all, so I'm free to wear any kind of sunglasses I like or not. The downside is that my near vision is absolutely terrible without the glasses and my far vision is terrible with them, but I can live with that - the worst thing is I need to have my glasses around in case I need to look at my phone or something.

In terms of sunglasses, I wear these and have found them amazing. They are available in both 'readers' and prescription lenses, although that will depend on your specific prescription, of course. They are swimming in the surf, paddleboard and Jetski tested at up to 90 km/h, including turning my head sideways. Talk to an actual optometrist (not the chain store kind) about your prescription and what's available, as technology improves all the time and the chain stores don't give a shit about anything out of the ordinary.
posted by dg at 8:11 PM on May 19

You *can* get what virtually amounts to safety glasses and turn them into progressives or bifocals... it depends on the specific "frame". Add sunglasses level tint or use photochromic lenses and you got sunglasses.
posted by kschang at 10:22 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]

I recently started wearing progressives, and bought a reasonably priced pair with a nice polarized tint at Payne Glasses. They aren't super sport rated, but they were only about $175 for some with a lot of coverage and a nice tint.

All that said, for most of my outdoor sports, I'm not convinced I needed the progressives, but my add is only 1.5, so I can get by unless I'm trying to read.
posted by advicepig at 1:21 PM on May 20

I recently priced bifocal prescription polarized sunglasses from a few sites and found to have the best prices. not super fast to deliver but I’m happy with the quality. They do progressive lenses too.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 7:23 PM on May 20

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