If you’ve ever cycled with prescription glasses, you know that they are not suitable for this kind of exercise. That’s why every cyclist who is serious about the sport chooses one of the alternatives.
Most cyclists who wear prescription glasses cycle with contact lenses. Thus they can use any pair of cycling sunglasses, which protect the eyes better than regular glasses. Those who do not like wearing contact lenses often use prescription cycling glasses or a helmet with visor.
Each alternative to prescription glasses has its pros and cons. Below I will present each of them so that you can make the right decision for you more easily
Can I cycle with prescription glasses?
Cycling with prescription glasses sure sounds like a smart idea, after all, you want to see where you’re going. However, that brings plenty of problems.
Prescription glasses are not made for sports activities. As a result, they disappoint in many areas essential during exercise.
- Slipping down the nose. Prescription glasses have plastic nose pads. When you sweat, the grip is gone and glasses start slipping down your nose. Adjusting them for the rest of the ride is quite annoying.
- Reduced field of view. Prescription glasses usually have a bigger frame. They are also not designed to fit the face, with frames well away from it. This results in a reduced field of vision, and you want to have it as wide as possible while cycling.
- Poor eye protection. Cyclists wear glasses to protect their eyes from wind, insects and other things flying through the air. While prescription glasses protect you from insects and stuff, they offer poor wind protection. Because of the distance from the face, the wind will blow into the eyes from the sides, above and below. This can cause tearing of the eyes, which reduces visibility.
- No sunlight protection. Most rides occur on sunny days when the sun shines directly into the cyclist’s eyes. Prescription glasses offer no protection from the sunlight, so you will close your eyes more often. This reduces your vision, which can be dangerous, especially on a busy road and at high speeds.
- Fogging up when raining. The disadvantage of prescription glasses is that they are not made for rainy conditions. So there is no provision for airflow around them. The hot air of the body on one side and the cold air of the environment on the other cause the lenses to fog up and make riding impossible.
- Incompatibility with a helmet. Prescription glasses temples often don’t fit your face perfectly. This makes them difficult to fit under the helmet as they touch the straps. Removing and re-fitting them while driving is practically impossible.
You can see that prescription glasses are not a smart choice for cyclists. They will cause you many problems that will make the ride less enjoyable, as you will be fiddling with your glasses instead of enjoying the activity.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t cycle if you’re wearing prescription glasses. There are many other great options that will allow you to cycle without problems and still see the world around you perfectly.
Use contact lenses when cycling
Contact lenses are by far the best choice for cyclists with poor vision.
By using contact lenses, you can use standard cycling equipment. This primarily means using regular cycling glasses, which eliminate all the problems of prescription glasses. Your eyes are well protected, your field of view is wider and the glasses don’t slip down your nose. All this while your vision is as it should be, thanks to contact lenses.
I can’t stress enough how much easier riding is with contact lenses. It gives you the freedom you don’t have with prescription glasses. You put them in before a ride and don’t think about them till you get home. No more adjusting glasses and teary eyes from the wind. Just clear vision and carefree driving.
PRO TIP: If you are going to use lenses while cycling, don’t forget to put eye drops in your saddle bag.
However, I understand some people don’t like contact glasses. My wife is one of them. No matter how many times she tries to use them, she gives up on them again and again.
I get it, they are not for everyone.
Many people complain that contact lenses dry out their eyes and irritate them. Manufacturers have, therefore, recently started to produce thinner lenses that breathe and keep the eye moist. This also makes them more suitable for cyclists.
If contact lenses don’t work for you, don’t give up on cycling just yet. Below are some more solutions that will help you continue your cycling career.
Are prescription cycling glasses any good?
You probably heard about prescription sunglasses. So it should come as no surprise that prescription cycling glasses also exist.
They are exactly what they sound like. They are normal cycling glasses that also improve your vision.
However, I rank prescription cycling glasses as the second best solution for cyclists, right behind contact lenses. I have two reasons for this.
- The choice of models is limited
- Quality prescription cycling glasses are expensive
It’s also important to know that there are two types of prescription cycling glasses – glasses with prescription inserts and direct glaze.
Let’s look at each type in more detail.
In recent years, cycling glasses have started to follow the monolens trend. This means that a single lens covers the entire surface of the glasses.
This is a welcome feature for most cyclists, as it increases the field of vision and provides better protection from the wind. On the other hand, it makes the job of prescription cycling glasses manufacturers much more difficult.
It is impossible to make monolens that improve vision, as people tend to have one eye worse than the other. Manufacturers, therefore, have to make glasses with a double lens (as used on regular glasses), which severely limits the choice of models.
Don’t get me wrong, such glasses exist, but their design is “old-fashioned” with two separate lenses. At the same time, because of their specificity, such glasses are quite expensive as you can’t get them off the shelf.
It is also difficult to buy such glasses online. Before buying, it is essential to visit an optician who will carry out an examination and tell you the information needed by the manufacturer of the prescription cycling glasses.
Glasses with prescription insert
A more common choice for cyclists is cycling glasses with a prescription insert.
They are regular cycling glasses, but they have the option of attaching an insert. The latter provides better vision for the cyclist, while the glasses themselves perform all the other functions you expect from cycling glasses.
This type of model also allows you to change the lens on your glasses in different weather conditions, as better vision is not tied to the lens itself but the prescription insert.
Due to the much simpler concept of improving a cyclist’s vision, there is a huge choice of such glasses on the market. Practically every pair of glasses already allows the fitting of a prescription insert.
The increased choice and simplicity of the prescription insert are also reflected in the price. You can get glasses that allow you to fit prescription inserts on Amazon for as little as a few tens of dollars. However, I recommend you not skimp when buying cycling glasses and instead buy quality ones such as Smith Flywheel.
A helmet with visor is a convenient solution
If you still haven’t found an option that suits you among all the above, I have one last solution for you – a helmet with visor.
It is the least commonly used solution, but that does not mean it is wrong. It might just be the best one for you.
Helmets with visors are mostly used in time trials to improve the rider’s aerodynamics. However, there are also conventional helmets with visor on the market that are more suitable for recreational cyclists.
The visor is mounted on the front of the helmet and goes all the way down to the nose. The entire eye area is therefore protected from wind and insects.
The visor performs the function of cycling glasses, but due to its slightly greater distance from the face, it still allows prescription glasses to be worn underneath.
Cyclists that use a helmet with visor are generally very satisfied with them. They might look odd and not be the prettiest helmets in the world, but they do what they are supposed to do. And they do it quite well.
Buy a quality helmet. You only have one head. Protect it well!
But be careful when you’re buying a helmet with visor.
If you know me, you know that when it comes to helmets, I always suggest buying a good quality helmet, even though it can be expensive. I insist on this even when buying a helmet with a visor.
There are some cheap helmets with visor on the market. I would urge you not to buy them. You only have one head.
Not only is the helmet itself pretty bad and does not protect your head well, but the visor is also inferior. It is shorter, does not fit the face and, as a result, protects the eyes from the wind much worse.
I advise you to spend more money and buy a quality helmet with a quality visor. My choice is always the Giro Vanquish helmet. It is a quality helmet from an established brand with a very good visor design that protects your eyes well.
Prescription glasses are unsuitable for cycling as they do not protect the eyes from the wind, reduce the field of vision and constantly slide down the nose. That’s why you need to find a better solution.
If you don’t mind wearing contact lenses, they are your best option. With them, you can wear normal cycling glasses and put the hassle of choosing glasses for cycling behind you for good.
However, if you are one of the many that don’t like contact lenses, you’re doomed to one of the other two options. You can either buy prescription cycling glasses or a helmet with a visor.
If you choose prescription cycling glasses, you have two options – direct glaze or glasses with a prescription insert. The former are more sophisticated and look like normal cycling glasses, but are consequently more expensive, as a special lens has to be made.
On the other hand, cycling glasses with a prescription insert are normal glasses, the only difference is that they allow the fitting of a prescription insert. Since nothing has to be custom-made, they are much cheaper.
So there you have it. If you’re wearing glasses, you can still be a cyclist. Many professionals wear glasses and race with prescription cycling glasses. Don’t let glasses stop you from cycling. It’s too beautiful a sport to miss out on because of such a small thing.