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Cycling Specific Prescription Sunglasses

I have been wearing prescription glasses for 30 years now, and for whatever reason have never previously owned a pair of cycling specific prescription eye wear.

Having taken delivery just over a week ago, of a pair of Rudy Project Horus frames, (Picture Right.) with fully progressive bi-focal lenses, I am now wondering why on earth I didn’t do this sooner.

I can only put it down to ignorance, and never taking the time to research what was available. I have always made do with my regular prescription glasses with clip-on sunglasses. That seemed to be my only option when I went to my local eye wear provider.

Last month I discovered Sport RX, a company in San Diego who specialize in sport eyewear and sunglasses. It had never occurred to me that the wrap-around style of lens that cycling sunglasses have could be easily made up with prescription lenses just like any other glasses. So I ordered a pair.

I spoke on the phone with Rob Tavakoli who went over my options. They had a wide range of frames available including Oakley, Nike, and all the other popular models. I chose the Rudy Project Horus frames in Grey and Anthracite. I liked the shape of these made in Italy frames. They were available in other colors, but I felt the more conservative grey was more my style.

I explained to Rob that most of my riding in South Carolina was done in extremely bright sunlight. He suggested what he called their “Win, win” lenses. So called because they are silver coated outside and so block out a lot of glare and harmful rays, but at the same time looking from the inside, out, there a lot of color contrast and clear visibility.

Above: Win Win Lenses in Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ

This is achieved with a rose/copper tint to the lens. Rob explained that with some grey or green tints, shadows blend in with the grey asphalt, and it is not so easy to pick out wet and dry patches, and bumps and potholes in the road for example.

With these lenses the colors pop, and on many of my summertime rides, because of the heat, I set out early around 6 am. just before sunrise. With these glasses I can still see clearly even in the low light.

Rob offered to send me frames to try on, but I didn’t feel this was necessary, as I gave him my helmet size, and my head measurement. The glasses fit perfectly. With my regular glasses that I have always worn, there was a lot of glare coming in all around, especially from the side. 

My previous regular glasses tended to slip down my nose, especially when I started sweating, and I end up peering over the top of the frames. These glasses being cycling specific fit firmly but comfortably on my head and don't move.

Although the frames are quite thick and go all around the lens, because they are curved and fit closer to the face, the frames are not in my line of vision if I look up, down or sideways.

One of the biggest safety aspects I have found, with my regular glasses, when I turned my head to look behind, the edge of the glasses and the frames were always right in my line of vision.

With these new glasses, when I turn my head I am looking through the lens, where it appears the corrective prescription works right around the curve to the edge. Plus there is no glare coming in the sides.

The reason I had the glasses made in no-line progressive bi-focal lenses, is because I may occasionally need to read something, or fix a flat, or make some minor adjustment to the bike. With these being bi-focal there is no need to carry a separate pair of reading glasses.

Having the very bottom edge of the lens made for close up reading, does not affect the distance vision of the rest of the lens. Riding my bike, I am leaning forward, looking up anyway.

As I started out saying, I cannot understand why I didn’t treat myself to a pair of these glasses before. Like many other cyclists, I spend money on all the right equipment. Clothes too, shoes, helmet, my comfort is important.

And yet all these years I have neglected the vision part, which is important for my eyes, my safety, and is just one more thing to make my cycling experience just that much better.

Like many aspects in life, ignorance is bliss, and I never knew what I was missing until I tried something that is a vast improvement.

Thank you Rob, and all at SportRx.


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Reader Comments (11)

When I first got bifocals, I went on just one ride with them. I couldn't see my drivetrain from the saddle. I couldn't see my feet to make sure they were positioned properly in my clips. I made my old single-vision glasses my "cycling glasses". If I needed to do some close-up work, I just took them off.

I was using clip-on sunglasses, too. But now I have a pair of wrap-around single-vision general "sports" glasses with Transition lenses, so I no longer have to carry a case for the clip-ons. I sacrificed a bit on the dark end so they'd go perfectly clear for night riding.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEric

Ok, you have shamed me into getting a new pair.
I have been riding with a pair of cable temple RayBans (non-prescription). They fit and work perfectly, except that my vision has gotten bad enough that I can hardly read street signs much less my computer or a map.
In fact, maybe I should just have a custom pair of RayBans made....

Yes, right glasses are as important as any other equipment to a safe and pleasant ride.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdStainless

Another option is using a prescription insert. It clips inside the back of the main lens. Advantage is it is protected, you can readily change your main lens to any options available and many of the Rudy Project prescription inserts fit different frames.
I have one prescription insert and use it on 3 differant Rudy Project frames (and even a Spy pair); changing lens on the outside is quick and less costly than buying prescription main lens, way less!
Also the main lens are guaranteed for life IF they are not prescription: you scratch them they replace them, forever. Prescription main lens are only guaranteed for One year.
I also had a local optometrist put progressive lens in the clip-in insert and find it the best thing I've done for my riding vision. I use such setup for Mountain and Road.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Prescription cycling glasses are really nice. I even wear them for other work as give a great field of view and eye protection.

The only problem with the Oakley lenses is they put an "O" watermark near the centre of the lenses which causes distortion to point light sources that pass through that exact point on the lens (e.g. traffic lights viewed at an angle). The compatible lenses don't have this problem.

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBenji Weber

Yes, the color of the lens makes a big difference in what and how well you can see. For me amber, polarized lenses work wonders as you say making colors pop, being able to see "into" shadows, easing eye strain and just enhancing the visual experience of riding. And, they look really cool! And...I ride faster with them (I can hope)

June 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSLOjoe

I started with some RudyProjects with prescription inserts about 13 years ago. I just went to non-insert Switch frames wherein the interchangeable lenses attach to the frame magnetically. I use red in less than full light and bright yellow for MTBng in deep forest. Best gear I ever bought. I really appreciate the increased sight lines when heading downhill on the MTB. Ohhh and they're stylish as well. Cannot believe you waited so long to make this move Dave. Congratulations!

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

Lookin good!

I guess you don't/can't wear contacts and non prescription biking glasses?

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Katz

Ten years ago I learned the importance of lens color in my prescription glasses when I failed to see a pothole and crashed as a result. From then on I have worn glasses with a lighter tint!
Good move Dave.
(Another post mentions contact lenses. I am a contact lens wearer but I don't where them cycling because the y tend to dry out even when wearing non-prescription glasses over them.)

June 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMartin W

I made the mistake (IMO) of getting polarised lenses on my first pair of prescription cycling glasses. Polarised lenses may be good for drivers, but I found the change in the appearance of a wet road surface very disconcerting as I tilted my head (and body) around corners, etc. It's not as noticeable in a car as you tend to stay more in one plane. I understand many pilots don't use polarised lenses for this very reason.

I also ordered those glasses as single vision (cheaper) but them had trouble reading maps when required. So I've now found these guys, who I can recommend (UK - London area)


September 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteveP

Thanks so much for this post! This answered a lot of my questions, keep up the awesome work on this blog!

Amazing post actually. Totally described about what cycling glasses are for. I recently purchased anti fog glasses from Ryders Eyewear. Those cycling glasses are one of the best ones on the market! I choose Ryders because the price is fare and quality is amazing!

August 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBob Chandler
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