Cyclists and eyewear have a long, long history. From the goggles we'd rather forget, to today's oversized sunglasses, the right pair of eyewear is just as important as matching your helmet to your shoes. It's panache, and as all cyclists know, the better you look, the harder you ride.
All kidding aside, if you're like many of us and things are a little (or a lot) blurry without your prescription lenses, this is more than a style faux pas. It can be downright dangerous while out on the open road.
Fortunately, there are tons of options out there for cyclists who need to wear a corrective lens when out riding their bike. From contacts to prescription sports eyewear, there are plenty of solutions that are both easy to find and match today's trends.
Please note these are simply suggestions based on years of experience cycling with corrective lenses. Consult your doctor or optometrist before making a decision for yourself.
Last Year's Prescription
Before you jump in and purchase a brand-new pair of cycling/sports sunglasses with your prescription, do some experimenting and see what works the best for you. One "hack" is to grab a pair of your old everyday glasses with your previous prescription and wear them on a few rides. Of course, they won't be tinted or fit like a pair of lightweight performance sunglasses, but they'll give you a good idea of what you like and don't like. Do you like oversized lenses? Prefer thicker frames? That sort of thing.
Better yet, if anything were to happen to these backups, no harm, no foul.
If you haven't tried contact lenses before, we recommend heading to your trusted optometrist and at least giving some trial lenses a spin. They're more advanced than ever—not only are they super thin now, but they're breathable, hold moisture and have great optics (actually better than a pair of prescription lenses).
Opting for contacts instead of dedicated prescription glasses means the door is wide open for eyewear. You can wear pretty much any sports sunglasses on the market now that your vision is 20/20, and you won't be limited to frames that take prescription lenses (more on this below). Off-the-shelf performance sunglasses usually have all the best tech, too—they're super light, have a wider field of vision (some are even frameless) perfect for when you're tucked in an aero position, fit nicely around helmet straps and have better airflow for less fogging.
Thankfully you no longer have to wear prescription goggles with that funky elastic band to get bike-friendly prescription lenses. Many of the features of off-the-shelf sunglasses have been modified and included in performance cycling sunglasses that also take prescription lenses.
ROKA, Oakley and Rudy Project are leading the way in this regard—these brands have developed frames and lenses that are not only stylish, but actually perform. They often feature more modern wraparound lenses, are polarized, have different tints available and have vents for airflow to prevent fogging. They also offer oversized lenses, which is valuable as cyclists need an increased field of view when cornering and monitoring traffic and road hazards at high speed.
As always, be sure to consult your optometrist before going this route.
Just as you lube your chain and pump up your tires on a regular basis, it's important to perform basic upkeep on your prescription eyewear, too.
No matter if you're a mountain biker, cyclocross racer or road cyclist, riding a bike can be a dirty endeavor. Dust from wind, dirt flung up from the tires, sweat and more can stick to the lens and shouldn't be wiped off with the sleeve of your jersey. Wet the lenses with water from your bottle to remove any gunk, then use a lens-friendly microfiber towelette to clean. Not doing this can lead to tiny scratches on the lens, which over time can make it look cloudy and less sharp.
The same idea holds true if you're wearing contact lenses. Lenses can partially pop out, you can get dust your eye, etc., and we recommend carrying a small travel-sized bottle of contact solution or eye drops for when you're out on a long ride and need a bit of moisture. If you're out on a multi-day epic ride, or you're someone who has a terrible prescription, we also recommend carrying a backup pair of glasses or contacts in case a lens falls out or tears.
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