I am seeking eye protection for cycling. I don't know if I should buy glasses or goggles.

  • What conditions are you riding in? Winter/Summer? rain/sun? temperature? Road/Mountain? Oct 17, 2010 at 15:28
  • If you're not riding downhill, goggles are too big for nothing. But yeah, we need to know more about your riding.
    – dee-see
    Oct 17, 2010 at 16:48
  • @sixty if there are recommendations for each of those conditions I would like to hear them all
    – Jader Dias
    Oct 17, 2010 at 21:40
  • 1
    @Jader: They cover more of your face, they fit in a full-face helmet nicely and they stay in place. I don't know how much you know of downhill mountain biking, you might want to check out the wikipedia article: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downhill_mountain_biking
    – dee-see
    Oct 17, 2010 at 23:06
  • 3
    @Jader, the title of the question and the actual question seem somewhat different. It seems to me that the title of the question should be something more like "What are the benefits of googles over glasses for cycling?"
    – deemar
    Oct 18, 2010 at 0:06

3 Answers 3


Glasses are suitable for most all cycling purposes. Goggles are more specific, like for some mountain biking and perhaps in snow. Even so, I see cyclists in glasses far more often than goggles.

In terms of glasses.

For the frames: Most manufacturers have road and mountain models at various price points. Get a frame that fits your face well. If googles, ones that fit your face and vented.

For the lenses (glasses or goggles), which are key, there are a few things to look for.

  • Polycarbonate lenses. Because they're impact resistant and durable.
  • UV protection.
  • Polarized lenses for glare protection. (Non-polarized lenses suck)
  • Interchangeable lenses. For changing lighting conditions. Clear for night, various tints for bright, cloudy, etc. There are also photochromatic lenses that change tint based on brightness.
  • Prescription lenses or prescription inserts if necessary. (And if you don't use contacts)

FWIW - Last weekend at a very muddy cyclocross race I watched, no one was in goggles.

  • Interchangeable lenses only or photochromic are also advisable?
    – Jader Dias
    Oct 17, 2010 at 19:05
  • @Jader - One or the other. I use interchangeable lenses and don't have experience with polychromatics. I understand that polychromatic may not protect against UV as well, but that may have changed since I last looked into it.
    – user313
    Oct 17, 2010 at 19:45
  • Also, most brands of glasses purchased in a bike shop will have polycarbonate or similar lenses. You don't want glass or plastic lenses. It's worth checking on to be sure though.
    – user313
    Oct 17, 2010 at 19:58
  • 1
    I use orange polychromatic lenses (orange being the base color, they get darker when exposed to UV). It's really fun especially if you live in a place with quick-changing weather.
    – dee-see
    Oct 17, 2010 at 23:07
  • +1 good list, the ESS goggles fulfil all of the properties. I time-to-time switch from glasses to goggles during summer when there is poor quality of air, such as sand and allergens in the air, and too much glare. No idea whether glasses exists to protect well the sideways glare.
    – user652
    Apr 26, 2011 at 8:46

A frame that doesn't obscure your vision at all. Especially if you're cycling on the road, you want to be able to do a shoulder check without the frame blinkering you at all.

Also, glasses that fit quite close to your face are good because they reduce the chance that a bit of mud or an insect is going to get around them and into your eye.


Do not reinvent the wheel!

Most replies just list things -- they don't tell you how you can get them all-in-one. Well, here is a shortcut: do not search for cycling lenses instead ballistic lenses, SWDG or ESS. They are standardized products so you will surely know whether you can use them with prescription lenses, just google their SKU and check the manual -- no pling-pling marketing in-between, just pure data, cool. Do not let its look stray your thinking from bicycles, here, the bottom has a search that covers pretty new development things about the lenses. My favourite products are by ESS and, by the way, they do manufacture more eye-protecting things, not just goggles.

What I do like with this kind of products is that they are high-quality products and tend to be cheap bought as surplus, no Lidl-style marketing needed. I can guarantee such eye-protectors work fine during variety of riding from very cold winter riding to sandy allergenic summer riding. Flying stones, mud and snow are none, even among other traffic and even if you are very allergenic or don't like poor quality of air during some seasons.

  • 3
    Don't they block your peripheral vision? On my bike, I can't stand glasses that block my ability to look sideways for cars and avoid ones that even have a frame around the sides.
    – freiheit
    Feb 27, 2011 at 2:35
  • @freiheit: to some extent [1], search "peripheral vision" in my suggstion, they have some alternatives like [2] with better peripheral vision but higher price and not all improved products are over-supply. I use the goggles during winter to protect from cold wind and not to let my eyes to freeze . [1] olive-drab.com/od_soldiers_gear_eyewear_cots_ess_flightdeck.php [2] amazon.com/dp/…
    – user652
    Feb 27, 2011 at 4:15
  • @freiheit: personally, I like the ESS Land OPS goggles (paid about 10USD through eBay). They have a better peripheral vision than with the older SWDG goggles. Asked my skiing friend, she could not notice a difference with the ESS. Another reason why I like the ESS goggles (also apply to skiing goggles) is that they are easy to maintain: if you get any fog to your lenses, it is easy to take it off with a wide vision-screen. Please, see: bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/689/…
    – user652
    Mar 2, 2011 at 18:22

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