The whole glasses thing

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby 531colin » 12 Sep 2020, 3:34pm

As above, I find soft contact lenses brilliant. I don't need to wear any other glasses to keep the wind out. I use ordinary cheap reading glasses in addition.

My optician almost got these to work for me....
These are hard lenses which you wear overnight, and by morning they have re-shaped your cornea so that you can see WITH NOTHING IN YOUR EYE.
But I was pushing 70 and right at the edge of the lens strength they were supposed to be good for, and we couldn't quite get it to work.
Even better, if she could get a myopic child to wear them, then their myopia would progress at roughly half the expected rate. For me, that would have changed my life, I could have been able to see where the ball was.

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby Brucey » 12 Sep 2020, 4:48pm

I am lucky enough to have not had to wear glasses for eye correction whilst cycling but I have of course worn lots of different glasses for eye protection, and I'm also at an age where I'm having to get used to using reading glasses for close work. On the bike I nearly always wear something rather than nothing especially in the summer months because the chances of getting a bug (or road dirt) in your eye are just too great otherwise.

There is a conflict between keeping stuff out of your eyes and having enough airflow; the correct compromise depends on how you ride and what the weather is like.

Full eyeshades (eg original Oakleys) are great for racing, allow excellent peripheral vision, and allow good vision forwards even when your head is down. But if you ride slowly (eg on a long climb) in humid conditions then they (and at worst any glasses, prescription or no) will tend to steam up, and/or get sweat drips inside the lens.

Another thing that happens in the summer is that helmet pads get soaked in sweat; at least once a year I find I have left them too long between rinses, and when I slow up, the drying stops and I can get trickles of super-strong (and probably bug-encrusted) brine dribbling into my eyes. When this happens if there is no clean water for rinsing, it is usually best to ride with no glasses on, such that there is some breeze but not so fast it provokes a fresh bout of sweating.

These days I'm most commonly not riding head-down which means that other sunglasses are also acceptable; you get used to having frames present and in fact there is something to be said for relatively small lenses; these allow good airflow and furthermore they may still allow some peripheral vision (around the frames). Because of the way peripheral vision is used, it is probably less important that this is corrected in the same way as in the centre of the field of view is.

I've also scratched, broken, sat on and destroyed innumerable sets of sunglasses (some very expensive) over the years; I'm sure I would do the same thing with prescription jobs. So my MO for the more casual riding I do these days is to use some cheap sunglasses. To my surprise I have had good use from several pairs of cheap Ray-Ban 'wayfarer' knock-offs. No good for nose-down riding, but the lens is usually large enough and high enough to keep the bugs out, whilst still small enough to allow good airflow round the sides and some peripheral vision beyond the frame.

Some of my chums have corrective lenses (as well as other difficulties) and they mostly use goggles/glasses with a second set of lenses inside them. They do have steaming problems at times; FWIW the best skiing goggles I have used are effectively 'double-glazed' and this helps avoid steaming up; I don't know if cycling glasses offer the same functionality...?. There are sprays which are intended to help stop fogging; I've used these inside motorcycle helmet visors with some success; I've not bothered when cycling, but I might if I couldn't take the glasses off.

So if I had to have corrective (sun) glasses I'd either get prescription ones in a frame/lens style that suited me (and you can obviously try lens/frame shapes in cheap sunglasses before taking the plunge) or I'd wear more standard glasses behind some kind of larger eyeshade/goggle, much as simonhill describes above. I of course have no direct experience of contact lenses but regularly poking your fingers in your eyes to fit them has obvious risks; by analogy at one time I used in-ear headphones or earplugs more often than I probably should have, and I don't think it was a coincidence that I had various ear infections around that time; same problem is possible with eyes I expect.

So many of the problems are similar to anyone wearing sunglasses, but you are stuck with actually wearing corrective glasses (you can't just take them off, not if you want to see where you are going...) and you have more to lose if you think you might break them.


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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby gazza_d » 12 Sep 2020, 5:07pm

I've worn glasses full time since about 15 and so all the time over been cycling.
I've never bought specific cycling glasses, but have always gone for either prescription sunglasses or ideally transition lenses which darken in daylight and a pair of frames that look appropriate. I find slightly larger lenses help.

Fit is very important. I also use a neoprene strap to keep them in place.

I rarely have an issue with steaming up unless going into warm place when it's cold outside.
Rain is something I've never cracked although a peaked cap or helmet is invaluable

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby 531colin » 12 Sep 2020, 5:19pm

Brucey wrote:......... I of course have no direct experience of contact lenses but regularly poking your fingers in your eyes to fit them has obvious risks; by analogy at one time I used in-ear headphones or earplugs more often than I probably should have, and I don't think it was a coincidence that I had various ear infections around that time; same problem is possible with eyes I expect.....

I haven't much experience; only about 20 years, I think.
I was a late adopter of contacts, I'm 73 years old now.
I currently wear monthly disposable soft lenses, all day, every day with no problems whatsoever.
I have had problems, when I wore lenses which you keep in night and day for a month, taking them out for an overnight soak at 2 weeks. (as I remember, that was corneal ulcer twice, conjunctivitis once)
So for me at any rate, the problem isn't with poking myself in the eye to take the lenses in and out, the problem is with having a foreign body applied to the cornea 24 hours a day for 2 weeks without a break for the cornea to be bathed in a clean, fresh, oxygen-rich tear film. On the other hand, there are people who wear these lenses, so they work for some.

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby rmurphy195 » 12 Sep 2020, 5:33pm

simonhill wrote:I've got normal prescription glasses with reactolite lenses. Dark when sunny clear otherwise.

My eyes have got sensitive with age and water easily. I now wear safety glasses over my normal glasses. They are very light and cover enough to stop wind getting in. All clear plastic so peripheral vision not affected.

They won't win any fashion contest, but only cost a couple of quid from Wickes.

When I tries reactolites they were dark when there was lots of UV,clear otherwise. Thies meant that on grey, dull days they still went dark so I found myself getting eystrain and being unableto see under trees etc. ie almost like it was sunny! Spotting potholes etc. was a real issue even when sunny.

I normally wear varifocals, with fairly large frames, but when cycling I use plain distance glasses which I find easier when looking behind etc.- a bit ike these in style from the front, but with a diferent name and part number and the arms are slightly different I'm not conscious of the frame itself at all, and they will take the odd knock without falling apart or losing the lens. (Mine have sprung arms which helps, and the frame on both pairs of specs are identical)

With any normal specs expect to find that if you are hutrling down a steep hill at over 35mph the wind will get behind the lens and wip the water from your eyes! Otherwise mine give good protection from insects.
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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby squeaker » 12 Sep 2020, 5:44pm

Another satisfied Optilabs user here (Rapide frames - originals over 10 yrs old with first replacement lenses). Fogging at traffic lights can occur - just pull them forward a few mm down your nose, then push back when the lights change: works for me.

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby fastpedaller » 12 Sep 2020, 6:09pm

Stradageek wrote:Contact lenses NO! I've had them dry out and stick to the eyes, I've had them blow out of my eyes and worst of all I've had them blow into the back of the eye socket - tricky to recover :( . I resorted to clear goggles over the lenses.

Specialist glasses are a must if you do a lot of fast descents especially. Airflow around standard specs can actually drag air and debris into the eye.

That said I must admit to just using a pair of old varifocals that don't suffer this latter issue too badly. However its got me thinking about getting a specialist pair, maybe a retirement present to myself.

Maybe there are contact lenses which fit your eyes better - one opticians 'correct' is another opticians 'incorrect'?
i've used them for over 30 years, including 12hr time trials where in one it was boiling hot weather (1 litre fluid at least every hour!) and another where it rained continually for 9 hours! - that was grotty, but no problems with teh lenses.

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby slowster » 12 Sep 2020, 6:11pm

1. A problem with clip-in prescription lens inserts is that they are relatively small and flat (similar to a pince-nez). Consequently they give poor peripheral vision, something which I nearly found out the very hard way when quickly looking over my shoulder to turn right and failing to see a car approaching from behind.

2. Unlike the old semi-hard gas permeable lenses which were smaller in diameter than the iris, modern soft lenses are 1mm-2mm larger than the iris. Consequently the fingers do not come into direct contact with the eyeball when removing the lens: it is large enough to be removed with a finger and thumb without touching the eyeball. Similarly the finger does not touch the eyeball when inserting the lens.

3. Soft lenses significantly limit the amount of oxygen that gets into the eye, hence they should not be not worn all day, e.g. maybe only for 7 hours. If you routinely want to wear contact lenses for much longer periods, then silicon hydrogel lenses allow more oxygen to pass through the lens, while still being a soft lens. They are typically more expensive than ordinary soft lenses.

4. If you wear lenses and after a bike ride have a shower, then the lenses must be removed and cleaned (or binned if the disposable type), because of the risks of infection from Acanthamoeba Keratitis.

5. As for airflow and sweat in the eyes, try riding without a helmet and without sunglasses.

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby simonhill » 12 Sep 2020, 6:17pm

Murphy: I agree that reactolites can be a bit suspect.

I got my prescription glasses from Specsavers. They did 2 for 1 and I chose identical pairs, except that one are reactolite, the other clear. I only use the 'sunnies' in the summer as they do darken in the poor light of winter (although most of my winters are in sunny climes so not a big problem for me).

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby Nigel » 12 Sep 2020, 6:31pm

Optilabs comes up regularly, and a lot of people report good value. I wasn't impressed with them when I tried some sample frames, so decided to look elsewhere.

High street opticians vary a lot in what they can do with cycling specific glasses. Some really can't be bothered. Others can be very good. Some in between.
The best I've had (small practise in rural Suffolk, I no longer live in that area) were outstanding, sourcing variety of frames from different makers, sorting out a fault in 24 hours, etc..
My now local practise are "middling", can deliver something similar-ish to Optilabs products.

This forum has suggested prescription Oakley's (and other brands) from I've not used them yet, but tempted to go there for next time. I checked two cycling styles, and they were £270-£330 depending on style of frame, for a single-vision prescription. That is a lot more than Optilabs, but not the £500 suggested earlier in the thread. They also offer to fit lenses into frames bought elsewhere.

- Nigel

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby peetee » 12 Sep 2020, 6:58pm

Agree with Farrina re: contacts and peripheral vision. With glasses I have almost learned to ignore peripheral sight because it is so out of focus. Having that wider clear view with lenses is hugely beneficial especially in traffic.
I also always make sure that I have clear or tinted eye covering while riding for protection from flying mud or insects.
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“Oh, my wheels and coupling rods!” Peetee exclaimed.

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby CyclingGuy » 12 Sep 2020, 7:25pm

I got some prescription cycling glasses from Boots Opticians (where I get my normal glasses from) about two years ago and have had no complaints so far.

Good value for money in my opinion at £80 including prescription insert and five different lenses.

They are called Basto 102 glasses.

Read about my adventures on the British Cycle Quest at:

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby simonineaston » 12 Sep 2020, 7:31pm

Eye wear is a compromise. The harder the prescription has to work, the greater the compromises. See relevant scene from Lean's Lawrence Of Arabia for guidance on the subject, to wit: "The trick... is not minding that it hurts.".

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby brucelee » 12 Sep 2020, 8:17pm

Thanks for your responses everybody. A couple of horror stories have put me off contacts. Also, I'm not prepared to sacrifice my peripheral vision with either frames or inserts, so nothing on Optilabs will fit the bill. have some stuff so my current manufacturer list is Oakley, bolle, rudy. Can anyone add to this ? The other thing is I saw a guy's video of his oakleys and it said that the lens was stuck to the inside of the regular sunglasses and there looked to be a pretty big chunk of plastic in there. Peripheral vision issues there again ? Anybody got a pair like the oakley flak with the lens fitted they could post a photo of. Does the fitting of the internal lens create a break in continuity like inserts do. Also a little concerned about the photochromatic/reactolite comments and winter cycling. The plan was to try and get away with just one pair for winter and summer. Are all of these photosensitive glasses like this ?

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Re: The whole glasses thing

Postby 531colin » 12 Sep 2020, 8:40pm

brucelee wrote:..... A couple of horror stories have put me off contacts........

I have cycled for maybe 35 years with glasses and maybe 20 with lenses; I won't go back to glasses unless I really have to.
Its obviously your choice whether or not you even give lenses a try, I think if you don't it will be your loss.
What were these "horror stories"? Its readily possible that the contributors who actually use lenses can put the stories into perspective.