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Today in the middle of my ride it started raining and I could barely see due to the amount of rain on my glasses.

This is basically what I could see View with rain on glasses

I have jokingly talked about using Rain-X on my glasses, but now it's starting to seem like a good idea.

Is there a way to keep this from happening or at least to a minimum?

  • 3
    Wear contacts? Its just something you learn to deal with. – Batman Oct 1 '16 at 22:55
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    Ride backwards. (You kind of get used to it after awhile. You do need to slow down and be a bit more cautious, but usually you can see well enough to ride a bike lane or path. A little trickier if you need to dodge rocks or potholes, or if traffic is bad.) – Daniel R Hicks Oct 1 '16 at 23:23
  • Look up hydrophobic coatings used on tools and work apparel. You get them in transparent spray form. It might work – c10yas Oct 2 '16 at 7:11
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    @c10yas there's no doubt they work to repel water, but will they remain optically clear, will the product damage the lenses and the optical properties of the lens, plus any coatings already on the lens. Also there's a minor problem of fumes - having the product right by the eyes can cause irritation. I once superglued my glasses back together, waited ~18 hours, and the fumes were still hideous. – Criggie Oct 2 '16 at 8:47
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    I doubt it would help. Most prescription glasses with polymer lenses come with good hydrophobic coatings. In my personal experience it did not seem to help very much. In contrast, using bike glasses and contact lenses was find. I can see three reasons for that: (i) the bike glasses are curved such that the wind can blow of droplets, (ii) they are also ventilated on the inside to prevent fogging (iii) distortion by droplets might be more disruptive on optical surfaces (not convincig though) – gschenk Nov 22 '16 at 22:41
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The easy answer is a wide-brim hat or long visor on your helmet. This does work, at least at low speeds. You will have to experiment with options, as nothing like this is sold for this purpose as far as I can tell.

Over about 20kph the length of brim you need gets silly, and by 30kph you need half a metre or so (there are some velomobile owners that do this). But if you're willing to slow down, the brim will work.

I wear glasses, and haven't found a water-shedding coating that works well enough to be worth the hassle. In practice I use a clip-on visor on my bike helmet, extended a little so it's about 10cm in front of my forehead. That keeps the worst of the rain off. Then I ride fast enough that my glasses get wet anyway. But not as wet as without it.

The visor/brim also reduces the amount of water running down my head and into my eyes, especially as that always seems to wash stale sweat out of the helmet pads and that stuff stings. A sweatband or headsock helps there.

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    +1 I always wear a cycling cap. It's peak works pretty well for keeping sun or rain off my glasses, and has the advantage that it can be flipped up to give better visibility when needed. – andy256 Oct 2 '16 at 2:48
  • Even just a regular ball cap will be enough in most situations. I wear one under my helmet and while it does impact my vision vertically (I have to look up to see traffic lights), it sits low enough to my face and glasses to keep the water out of it. – BPugh Oct 5 '16 at 13:44
  • I got a 10 buck Trespass synthetic cap, and that solved my commute problems up to medium strength rain. – Ciro Santilli 新疆改造中心 六四事件 法轮功 Jan 10 '18 at 16:00
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The visor certainly helps - mine broke away 6 months ago, but the helmet is undamaged. Its almost impossible to find replacement brims.

So you might want to think about your technique. Try riding more defensively:

  • Learn to See rather than Look - that's noticing motion through a raindrop or obstruction.
  • Position yourself on the road to avoid possible problems.
  • Light yourself and your bike up like the Eiffel Tower / Blackpool Tower / Big Glowing thing. More lights and high-vis the better.

Finally check with your optometrist whether rainx or friends might damage your glasses. It should be fine on glass lenses, but coatings might suffer. I wouldn't want to guess on plastic lenses.

If you're getting a new prescription soon, consider getting custom cycling glasses.

Here's a set that put the rain barrier in front of the corrective lens, so the light focussing is less distorted by rain.

enter image description here

Here's another photo showing from the side. Notice how the tinted plastic bit comes much further around the head, reducing that eye-drying side-buffeting on a fast downhill. The corrective lens part can be ground to your prescription by your optometrist. Depending on model, the front shield may be removable, and may even come with up to 5 or 6 different shades for different riding conditions. You can even get some models with a safety strap instead of two temples, so they're almost like baby's glasses or slightly like swimming goggles.

enter image description here

On later thoughts - that foam top band could be both awesome for sweat control, and horrible once it saturates.

I can't wear contacts because they irritate, and I have to wear glasses all the time, so would have to carry normal glasses on a ride too.

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    That fixed stare should burn the water off in no time :-) – andy256 Oct 2 '16 at 5:50
  • @andy256I'm sure Cyclops from Xmen, or Superman don't have this problem. – Criggie Oct 2 '16 at 8:43
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There are sevral options to prevent wet glasses.

  1. Do not ride in rain
    This is absolutely foolproof, but it doesn't solve the problem if you want/need to ride.

  2. Do not wear glasses in the rain
    You will have clear view, but in heavy rain and/or higher wind this is painful and may be dangerous. They who must wear corrective glasses cannot use that option for sure.

  3. Wear helmet with visor
    When riding relatively slow the helmet makes sort of roof over your face protecting your glasses from the rain. Visor gives extra room for protection. (Thanks, @Criggie) In high winds and heavy rain it is useless.

  4. Use hydrophobic-coated glasses
    Such (super-)hydrophobic coatings repell water from the surface. Some are polymer-based which are relatively cheap but are vulnereable to scratching and oils. Rare earth ceramics are investigated to sort these drawbacks out, but might be very expensive. Surf sunglasses, Adidas glasses are available.

  5. Use MotoGP helmet for wet races
    These helmet have double visor with sealed gap. Regradless how you sweat, the visor is still bright without any fogging. The visor is also cvered with set of hydrophobic foils (when worn out, they tear one layer away uncovering new one), or there are two cassettes for hydrophobic tape covering the visor (one cassette with unused tape and second for the used part, when the visor is wetting, racer can roll out new part), or the visor is covered by hydrophobic coating. This option is most expensive, Byt you will have ultimate head protection and comfort in cold weather.

Note that hydrophobic film will create separated water droplet that will easily move on the surface - on the bike they will be blown sideways and drop off. Superhydrophobic surface will repel the water droplets as a wall repels tennis balls.

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    The helmet itself does little to nothing for rain protection. Helmets with a visor or brim out the front do cope a bit better. – Criggie Oct 4 '16 at 19:50
  • How did people in Amsterdam manage to bike to work in the rain without issues when they need glasses? If there's mild nearsightedness or there's a low rate of myopia, then it makes sense. Contact lenses have some risks over glasses. – Han-Lin Oct 8 '18 at 7:21
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Many cycling gloves are designed with a chamois or microfibre panel on the thumb section. This allows you to wipe glasses with the back of your thumb. It sounds rubbish, but it works really well, even when the gloves are saturated with water. Of course you have to wipe your glasses quite frequently, but in my experience not so much as to impair my riding.

Tip: Use the left hand for the left lens and the right hand for the right lens. Hold the thumb vertical, start at the inside and wipe towards the outside.

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Additional suggestion is to turn your head a little, and often rather than holding the head still and moving your eyes.

As you move your head, your eyeballs get a "line of sight" around any particular drop, and your brain ends up "gluing" the image together.

Its a subconscious thing, but works well enough when combined with the other physical solutions presented.

Give it a try next time it raining.

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In a heavy rain, I just take my glasses off. Hats or similar don't really protect the glasses enough to be worth the trouble.

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    That's not much use if you need the glasses to be able to ride safely – srank Oct 4 '16 at 17:45
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    I wish my vision was decent enough to be able to take them off. – npsantini Oct 4 '16 at 18:44
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I have a 10 mile commute to work and then back again, I’ve found that polishing your glasses with ( I use Mr Sheen Multi Surface Polish ) before setting off helps a little with repelling the rain and certainly helps when you have to stop and wipe your glasses, my glasses are glass and I’ve had no problems with it affecting the glass.

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    I'd be very worried about that destroying the coatings on the lenses. – David Richerby Nov 22 '16 at 22:39
  • My glasses have a UV darkening coating that is breaking down from age and/or RainX treatment. I'm not sure which is most to blame. – Criggie Nov 23 '16 at 7:17
  • @Criggie Yeah but Rain-X isn't furniture polish. – David Richerby Nov 23 '16 at 13:06

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