I cycle to work each day, about 2.5 miles in each direction through a moderate sized town on paved roads (I don't use any dusty trails or go offroad etc).

The climate is somewhat dry and arid with temperatures varying between 30c and -15c (I wear a scarf covering my nose when it is much below 0.) This issue does tend to get worse when it's very cold, but that could be due to it being more dry then also. I am in Colorado, USA if it helps, not right in the mountains but still at substantial altitude, thus the arid climate.

However when I get to work each day my glasses invariably seem to be covered in both road dust, which I know how to deal with, but also a greasy film like layer which I do not notice until I try and clean off the dust then ends up smeared everywhere and requires several through cleanings with soap, cleaning solution and cloths and is nearly impossible to fully remove, giving a cloudy smeared look to the lenses.

This is less of a problem on my way home as I can soak the glasses in appropriate solvents which eventually seems to clear them fully, but at work it really makes my day difficult.

I would really appreciate any advice on either different prescription glasses I could use to avoid this issue, or some way to avoid this stuff depositing on them in the first place, or even something to wear over them. Though if possible I would prefer avoid anything that would look enormously out of place doing road biking in a city (if it makes a difference, I am female and in my late 20s). Given I mostly road bike I am not an expert on the various equipment used for this kind of thing.

Eventually I might just get laser surgery to bypass the issue entirely but this is not an option for the next 6 months at least as I am recovering from another medical procedure.

  • 1
    That was my reason to switch to contact lenses behind regular bike shades.
    – Carel
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:52
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    Telling us where you are in the world, at least approximately, will help us provide an answer Oct 22, 2019 at 18:22
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    Maybe it's worth mentioning that Oakley makes a hydrophobic lens cleaner kit that puts a layer of hydrophobic (i.e. water-repellent) substance over the lenses. It's temporary, and I have no idea how long one bottle lasts. To be honest, I've never met with this issue. I have never had anything that couldn't come off with soap and water. Thus, I've never tried this spray, and I have no idea if it's worth the price. wiggle.co.uk/…
    – Weiwen Ng
    Oct 22, 2019 at 19:43
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    Dish washing detergent and warm water, rubbing the lens with my fingers works for me, and i have had do deal with some with some pretty oily substances on lenses.
    – mattnz
    Oct 22, 2019 at 19:56
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    If the substance is greasy, I suspect you might need something like an oleophobic coating, not a hydrophobic one. Honestly, I am stumped, as I have not experienced this. If there are any other riders you know in the area, this might be worth asking them!
    – Weiwen Ng
    Oct 23, 2019 at 21:36

4 Answers 4


There are cycling helmets with integrated detachable visor. The visor covers the eyes. Yet the helmet is open below.

I see them frequently on my commutes on rainy days. Most are urban style helmets. Ventilation might be a little lacking for very high temps and high exertion.

Here are two arbitrarily chosen examples:

Abus hyban+

Uvex Finale Visor
(source: uvex-sports.com)

  • That actually looks like it could be perfect. And would also likely help with wind chill on my face in the upcoming winter. I will definitely look into these helmet designs!
    – Vality
    Oct 23, 2019 at 16:38

An ex-coworker of mine got a pair of goggles that he could put over his prescription glasses. In his case not so much because of dirt on the lenses, but because wind bothered his eyes.

A lot of the ones you'll find are the high-durability ones for mountain bikers (with thick heavy frames), but it is possible to find lightweight (and not so ugly ones) like these:

Over-the-glasses goggles

(Note that this is not a product recommendation; I don't recall the make of what he actually has, this is simply the closest in appearance that I can find in reasonable time.)

  • 1
    Depending on the location and weather there could be severe ventilation and fogging issues.
    – Carel
    Oct 23, 2019 at 8:07
  • Well, they do have ventilation holes top and bottom and the OP described a dry environment.
    – DavidW
    Oct 23, 2019 at 19:31

The other answers assume your lenses are contaminated by external sources.

A different alternative is that you're the source of the greasiness, from sweat or perhaps hair products or similar. Greasiness implies a biological source to me.

Check your helmet's foam padding, and if its manky then remove it carefully and wash it. You can also try a headband or even a cap/casket under your helmet to "capture" sweat before it gets too near your lenses.

  • 3
    I'm a recent convert to cycling caps; not only do they (mostly) keep sweat from dripping down your face, they also provide sun protection, keep bugs out of your hair, give you an optional visor if your helmet doesn't come with one...
    – DavidW
    Oct 23, 2019 at 19:34
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    @DavidW I need them cos my commute is into the sun in the morning and evening, and a visor is very helpful. Most are too tight for my fat head, cos they come in "one size fits all" so I have to remove the elastic for a better fit. Still not ideal.
    – Criggie
    Oct 23, 2019 at 19:53
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    My +1 is mostly for "manky"
    – Fing Lixon
    Oct 25, 2019 at 1:31

I can't think of a way to keep your glasses from getting dirty. It sounds like the dirt could be carried by the air. As you ride the air hits your glasses and gets them messy.

If you get laser surgery so you don't need glasses then all the stuff you clean off your glasses will go straight into your eyes.
You need something to protect your eyes and is easy to clean.

Here are some options:
- A helmet with a face shield. The shield would get dirty and keep your glasses clean. You might be able to get away with only cleaning at home.
- Safety glasses that fit over your glasses - would look out of place
- Clip on sunglasses. There are many different kinds of clip on glasses in different tint levels and they are not too expensive. Like the face shield you might be able to get away with only cleaning at home. Or, you could have two, one for riding to work and the other for riding home. I use a style of clip on sunglasses while driving that don't get a second look.

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There are some interesting choices if goggles are an option. They make mountain bike goggles that have tear-offs - disposable plastic covers. When one gets dirty they tear it off and are able to see again. I don't know of any goggles that fit over glasses and they might look a little silly while on a road bike.

It would be nice if they made tear-offs for regular glasses. I couldn't find any

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