I've never had prescription glasses but might like some.

My left eye doesn't focus easily (I ride on the right side of the road, in Canada). If I look over my left shoulder, I can see behind me only using my left eye (the field of my right eye is obscured by my nose). It's hard to see what's moving towards me and how fast, at a glance using one eye, because the edge-detection is blurred.

So I think I want driving glasses which:

  1. Let me focus towards infinity (that'll be the optometrist's job)
  2. Great peripheral vision: so I look through the lens even when looking sideways (i.e. behind)
  3. Other: clear, polarised, rain/snow-resistant, durable.

Can you tell me anything about this? Lens materials, frame styles (with specific examples), or anything else?

  • 6
    An alternative to glasses might be to use a mirror, this question had quite a good set of pros and cons about them, bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/5927/… Dec 1, 2011 at 9:19
  • Basically, you want a large lens held close to the face. Paying extra for the "high refractive index" lens material will probably help. Or a mirror. Dec 1, 2011 at 12:19
  • "I've never had prescription glasses but might like some." -- Just curious about this...Would you just "like" some, or do you "need" Rx glasses?
    – user313
    Dec 2, 2011 at 22:58
  • @wdypdx22 - I see well enough with two eyes, day to day, that I haven't needed them. Only this act depends on my left eye alone, which is weaker than the right. I'd "like" to see whether an optometrist can improve its distance vision. I'm commuting in traffic. I only "need" glasses for shoulder checking (and to wear in rain and snow). Because my needs are cycling-specific, I ask here first (before getting measured).
    – ChrisW
    Dec 3, 2011 at 3:20
  • @ColinNewell - Would the mirror depends on my (weak) left eye?
    – ChrisW
    Dec 3, 2011 at 3:24

10 Answers 10


My answer is based on 25+ years of wearing prescription glasses and contacts.

  • For road cycling, fitness cycling and sometimes commuting, I wear contacts plus non-prescription cycling glasses with interchangeable lenses. The lenses on the cycling glasses are clear, plus 3 different tints and densities for varying light conditions. The lens coatings are key. I personally insist on scratch resistance, anti-glare coating and you can also find lenses with anti-fog coatings and UV protection. The higher end cycling glasses usually have these types of coatings on the lenses.

  • For commuting and casual riding, I usually just wear my normal prescription glasses. Your optometrist will determine your prescription, but you can specify various coatings and even the option of variable tints. Anti-scratch coatings and anti-reflection coatings are a MUST in my book. Anti-fog and UV coatings are nice but it's up to you. For the frames, most optometrists have many options and I'm sure they can help you make a decision based on your needs. You'll want to look for a sturdy frame if you'll be clipping a mirror onto the frame.

Depending on how old you are, you may need to consider progressive bi-focals. Anyway, I've never had any issues with peripheral vison, but if it's an issue for you just talk with your optometrist about it.

Here's a link to a description of the various coatings. Personally, I can't live without anti-reflection and scratch resistant coatings.

You might check out this link as well: What are the features that I should seek in cycling glasses?

A note on cycling specific glasses... Most higher end cycling glasses (Rudy Project, Bolle, Oakley, etc) have the option of getting lenses with your prescription. However this is a very expensive option, especially since you'll need to replace the lenses when your prescription changes. This is why I use contacts with my non-prescription cycling glasses, because contacts are cheap.

@ChrisW - After seeing your comment... I think I'd recommend cycling glasses with Rx polychromatic lenses. Cycling glasses + interchangeable lenses + contacts is probably overkill for you. The quality brands of cycling glasses usually have that kind of option. I have Rudy Project glasses and before that I had Bolle, both of which are available with Rx lenses.

  • Note that you can often buy non-prescription glasses and have an optometry outfit put prescription lenses in them. I do this for safety glasses and save a bundle on the frames. Dec 1, 2011 at 22:16

The best lenses to get peripheral vision are going to be contact lenses; which I can highly recommend for cycling. I wear continuous-wear ones, where you put them in at the beginning of the month and take them out at the end.

However when you're not used to contacts (or they're quite cheap) you run the risk of losing them to various factors (e.g. wind, drying out, dust). A pair of clear wrap-around cycling glasses will help minimise these problems, and you can wear your choice of sunglasses for the other requirements. :)

  • 1
    Indeed, me too. However,(1) the eyes dry out, when wearing contacts, hence the non-prescription glasses in the above answer. (2) The lenses you mention are hugely more convenient than daily lenses. (3) Moisturizing the eyes with "artifitial tears" a couple of times a day is recommended. (4) My glasses have fallen off more times, than my lenses. Just wanted to make those quick notes to people, who have no experience with lenses and cycling.
    – Vorac
    Nov 21, 2013 at 15:04

Adidas sells a series of sports targeted glasses called Evil Eye. These can be fitted with inserts to correct whatever is wrong with your eyes (within some limitations). There's one insert with quite small corrective lenses and one with larger, the larger is more expensive. You will have to pay extra for the corrective glasses.

The corrected field of view is around 98% of the original field of view, if I have to guess. There's a range of original tinted glasses available that can be used together with the insert. These go from clear to arctic conditions compatible.

There are other manufacturers offering similar corrected sports glasses but I dont have experience with those.

  • So you wear Evil Eye for cycling? You can shoulder check / look behind you when wearing them, and the lens corrects your peripheral vision when you do that?
    – ChrisW
    Dec 1, 2011 at 15:26

FYI I use simple prescription glasses or sunglasses, where the frame is attached to the top of each lens, but not down the sides of the lens nor underneath -- so there isn't a frame at the side of the lens, blocking vision.

Also the arm (between the frame and the ear) isn't thick.

The lenses are long-distance only, not progressive.


I've been wearing glasses since the age of single-digits. Initially, I could ride without glasses, but as my eyesight deteriorated, that was no longer possible.

If you require corrective lenses to drive a car legally, then you require prescription glasses to control any road vehicle. So we have to wear something to ride bikes safely.

For decades, I could only wear my normal glasses. That worked fine because I didn't know any better.

Lately I've been using some cheap cycling glasses from China. They have a removable insert that holds prescription lenses underneath a plain plastic front-lens.


  • The corrective lens sits closer to the eye, and can be physically smaller/lighter for the same coverage
  • The plastic front panel is non-optical and can curve without making distortions. Thus you get eye protection from the side, which limits the cold wind buffetting in the side and drying your eyeballs on a cold+fast descent. I no longer have to squint on winter downhills to keep the eye moist and lubricated.
  • Front panel is swappable, so you can choose Yellow tint for night rides or clear for normal rides, or blue/smoke tinted for very sunny rides.
  • The frames are quite cheap and come with straps/temples to suit your preference.
  • I have worked out how to move the lenses to new inner-frames without needing to visit the eye specialists. Trick is warm water and to use one's teeth/lips to get the frame over the lenses. Any tools risk breaking the lens.


  • Have to carry regular glasses as well (I have lost a pair from my pocket while riding, which was expensive)
  • Cost of prescription lenses - I found a discount lens maker in my city, who quoted 1/3 the cost of my regular optometrist to make and fit lenses based on my existing prescription
  • The inner-frame has a life of 4-12 months before it snaps. Make sure you buy half-a-dozen spares at the same time. Sweat slowly degrades them, but normal glasses cleaners weaken them.
  • With two layers of optics between your eye and the world, there's a drop in quality, and there's now twice the surface area to get sweat drying. You can remove the front panel for cleaning, but its all plastic and won't last forever.

For shoulder checks I have two answers.

  1. A technique of looking with both eyes. This means releasing your off-side hand from the bars, and twisting one's torso quite a lot to look behind with both eyes. Downside is this takes longer than a head turn

  2. My secret is a Cateye BM-45 bar-end mirror attached to the end of my offside drop. When tweaked exactly right, I can see riders behind me, and cars approaching out of earshot. It is not a 100% coverage, but once a car moves out of the mirror view I can normally hear it before it gets into direct sight.
    Mirror is also great for seeing riders who sneak up for a cheeky draught/draft.


About a year ago, I got a pair of Oakley Fives with transition lenses. They are brilliant. Really good range of vision, even when shoulder checking. Plus with the transition lenses they always provide an appropriate level of shading.

The features that I like about this frame are:

  • They have excellent range of vision with large lenses
  • They are light (I can barely feel that I'm wearing them)
  • The arms are designed to detach rather than break so make them more durable
  • They can accept transition/prescription lenses
  • I think they look good :)

So to address your points above:

  1. Fit prescription lenses and your focus is sorted
  2. These frames have a very wide range of vision
  3. I'd get transition lenses to handle various levels of light. This frame is light and strong.

Oakley Fives


I'm planning on getting a pair of Performance Radial II glasses with inserts. They are much more affordable than a lot of prescription or insert sport glasses. You can also order inserts through Performance Cycles. I haven't used them yet, so my recommendation is coming second hand--the reviews seem decent. They come with 3 color lenses--clear, orange and gray.


  • I should add that I can't easily wear contacts with my astigmatism. They are very uncomfortable.
    – ananka
    Dec 1, 2011 at 23:01

go to e-rudy.com and check out the "rudy project rx interchangeable" sunglasses (http://www.e-rudy.com/index_inner.php?group_id=1&cat_id=11). i got a pair in may of this year and i totally love them. they "wrap around" my face like no other perscription lenses i've ever seen. contact lenses may be your best bet, but there's a certain amount of hassle / risk that comes along with them (in my opinion). if you're not sure about the contacts, check to see if you have a rudy project dealer in your area (http://www.e-rudy.com/dealer_locate.php). if so, you can try some out to get an idea if they'll work for you.

in addition to looking cool and letting me see really well while i ride, my rudy project lenses are really good in the rain... the water beads up (like water on freshly waxed car) and blows off. i can see very well, even in the rain. i also got the "photochromic" lenses so i can ride in varying light conditions without having to change my lenses.


Now I've had personal experience...

I've a prescription for short- and long-distance -- when I bought them I figured that variable-distance, i.e. bifocal, are a compromise that might be best at neither -- so sparing no expense I asked the optician for three pairs:

  1. Reading glasses, tuned for a computer (i.e. a distance of about 1 metre)
  2. Untinted driving glasses (tuned for infinity)
  3. Tinted driving glasses (ditto but these are sun-glasses)

The optician said the reading glasses are theoretically bifocal although "optimised" for the distance I asked for (i.e. 1 metre) -- thus the lenses are slightly taller -- 35 mm instead of 30mm for the "driving" glasses.

More to the point, the "driving" glasses are identical to each other except for being tinted (sunlight) or not, and don't have much of a frame -- no frame below the arm. I find these perfectly adequate, I never ride without them (either these or the untinted version):

enter image description here


Human eyes focus at infinity at 6 meters. Everything a cyclist needs to care about is usually not much closer or at least large enough to be seen no problems anyway. So if you have focusing difficulties, wear glasses or lenses tuned to infinity on a bicycle.

I prefer glasses on a bicycle (not contact lenses), because of the insects. The lenses must be large enough to cover most of the possible field of vision. I am not sure if any special glasses make any sense unless sun protection becomes important (where I ride, it is not). Anti-reflex and water-repellent coatings can also be ordered for the ordinary glasses.

Speaking about the "peripherial vision", I still do not think you can see backwards when looking forwards. I just do not assume I have this capability. Or you need to turn around with one or another technique, or get the mirror.

  • Some people have the uncanny ability to turn their heads
    – ojs
    Dec 23, 2021 at 10:45

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