6

The helmets + goggles for other sports cater more generously to the bespectacled.

For example, squash goggles come in two varieties, one fits like an ordinary pair of glasses, but withstand the up-to 200 km/hr speed of squash balls, and the other fit over prescription glasses, resting on the forehead with a band (that doubles, incidentally, as a sweat-wicking band) and with rubber pads on the cheeks.

Downhill skiing helmets are designed to hold the band for goggles in the back of the helmet. All goggles themselves accommodate prescription eyeglasses underneath with no difficulty. When cycling at -10°C I found that one's eyeballs start to freeze, and a skiing helmet + skiing goggles work perfectly. Eyeglasses alone are not a sufficient guard for eyes from the cold. But the skiing helmet is heavy, is far from ventilated enough for summer, and offers reduced visibility (but it works fine because fewer people venture on trails and roads at lower temperatures).

In last year's presentation of Tour de France 2022 several competitors (Cav at this point, among others elsewhere) were not worried about appearing with prescription eyeglasses. When they race they presumably switch to (put up with) contact lenses, and that is how they wear regular cycling goggles.

But what if I insist on not wearing contacts? What if I want to continue wearing prescription eyeglasses? So far I simply switch to prescription sunglasses during the day, but I would prefer to wear sunglass visors over clear prescription eyeglasses, as in squash or skiing. Some riders wear photogray lenses and accept their middle-of-the-road compromises. Either way, if the rider enters a cloud of gnats, having wider protection is a better safety guarantee to avoid being blinded for even a brief moment.

What are my options for keeping my prescription eyeglasses on and adding helmet+goggles while cycling?

5
  • I just wear a glasses strap. Something like this: amazon.com/Neoprene-Glasses-Sunglasses-Eyewear-Retainer/dp/… Jul 2 at 23:47
  • @DanielRHicks I use those for soccer (football). You must ride much more aggressively than I do, or on rougher terrains. With my riding they don't really go out of place.
    – Sam
    Jul 3 at 0:56
  • 2
    I've never had glasses fit comfortably under ski goggles. Jul 3 at 16:06
  • 1
    Honestly, what is your aversion to contacts? Jul 3 at 17:51
  • Why not join a club and ask the other members what their experiences have been? Jul 3 at 18:46

8 Answers 8

5

I have glasses, and need them for anything. Normal full-strength prescription glasses are required for me to drive, so the same prescription is appropriate for riding, about +11.5 from memory.

Normal eyewear frames work fine for "normal" riding, but I found that fast downhills and cold-weather rides would result in chilled/dry eyeballs and it was hard to focus.

I bought some wraparound frames similar to https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005003753183402.html and they were not expensive.

They're not full goggles, but do most of that task. Combined with a lower-face buff and a cycling cap under the helmet, they close off much of the open skin. I leave the nose exposed and tend to have the buff finish under my lower lip while covering the chin. If you want your nose covered, then there are half-face covers that do the nose or you could wear an N95 mask (but this is capable of constricting your breathing when it gets damp from hard breathing/rain/fog.)

What was expensive was getting some lenses made to my prescription to suit the holder - I found a "discount" eyewear maker in my city who did the lenses for $210 NZ, compared to the $800 I was quoted by my optometrist. All I did was hand over the optometrist's "prescription" and two weeks later I had riding glasses.

enter image description here

Positives

  • A lot cheaper than "proper" sports glasses
  • Most come with several front plastic shields. The blue-tint is great for hot sunny rides, and yellow is for snow and high glare and night rides. I've not found any use for the "polarised" one. Kit comes with some straps too.
  • The eye-chill from riding in the cold/downhills is definitely minimised.
  • Suitable for summer and winter riding.
  • They're better in rain because raindrops on the surface are further from your eyes and don't seem to make as fuzzy a patch as water directly on the prescription lenses.

Mentionworthy

  • The lenses are smaller in height and width, and will sit closer to your eyeballs because they're behind the outer shield. I found my eyelashes could sometimes rub on the inside of the lens at first, until the lashes self-clearanced!
  • Side view (over-the-shoulder glances) are both easier and harder. Easier because the eye is clearer and the wraparound shield goes back further than normal eyewear, but the prescription lens is smaller and closer to the face, so its different to your normal eyewear. I found at first it would take 30 minutes to adjust, but after a couple months it was instant to adjust.
  • Fogging up on the front is just as likely when you stop at red traffic lights as it is on normal glasses. I just pull them off my face by a centimetre or two and as soon as the lights go green, they clear in seconds with airflow. This is no different to riding with normal lenses on.

Downsides

  • The lens-holding frame will crack and fail within 6-12 months. Whatever material is used does not handle any cleaning products, so the salt in your sweat will make them fail.
    Solution is to buy a couple of spare inner frames. I'm on my third after ~3 years.
    The only way to clean them is warm running water, with no soaps or anything. I have figured out how to move my lenses into a new internal holder frame.
  • Can't wear lenses without the outer frame, so at the end of a ride you have to keep wearing them, or pull out your normal set which means carrying them with you.
  • Plain plastic fronts will show scratches, and if you sweat on them it leaves a crusty trail that needs washing off, not just wiping.
2
  • The EU is (finally) nudging Apple to use USB-C for everything. It's overdue, and it will surely shift the entire market. We'll be able to keep the same good cables and chargers forever, and ditch the lousy ones once and for all. Now if only they would set their sights on establishing a standard for attaching these insertable lenses for: carpentry goggles, squash goggles, cycling goggles, etc. But meanwhile this does seem like the best option. I just have to locate a local optometrist who can do it. I could find a mail-order one for carpentry. A cycling-specific pair couldn't be that tough.
    – Sam
    Jul 4 at 1:37
  • 1
    About Downsides: I know of at least 1 manufacturer (evil eye) of high-quality sports glasses with such clip-on frames. The first one I bought lasted over 15 years, until the outer frame started becoming loose. Inner frame was fine throughout, going through 3 sets of prescription lenses. I'm on my second model right now, and the mechanics only have improved in between. Disclaimer: no affiliation, just satisfied.
    – ojdo
    Jul 4 at 7:51
3

Intended for road use there are aero helmets with built in/removable visors (expensive example from Giro).

These can be worn with prescription glasses underneath. So not strictly goggles but a pretty close equivalent.

2

I wear contacts and utilize my favorite brand of safety glasses that are wrap around style and come with a strap that connects to each ear piece and tightens to my face by means of pulling the center of the strap through a little ball that clamps the strap preventing it from pulling back through and loosening. I have a few pair ranging from dark shades and mirror finish to totally clear. A pair of yellow tinted and a pair of blue tinted round out the collection. At any rate, neither the glasses nor the strap with the securing ball interfere with my bike helmet (Fox Speedframe).

Seems to me the addition of a strap to normal eyeglasses would suffice to keep them in place. For extra protection from wind, precipitation, and the wayward insect, there are numerous designs of safety glasses--like those for squash or racquetbal--that would work well for biking with a helmet. Additionally there are helmets by several manufacturers that allow for goggles to be used with them. Typically full faced helmets as for MTB down hill is where you'll see the associated goggles. These, like the ski helmet with goggles should allow room for prescription glasses to be used underneath. Generally, the standard bike helmet design doesn't interfere a bit with glasses and no special additions are necessary given the glasses are well fitted to the rider.

2

I wear glasses. I tried getting a pair of Rudy Project sunglasses with a second set of lenses for prescription lenses (similar to the ones pictured in Criggie's post). I couldn't wear them--the rear lenses were too close to my face, constantly in contact with my eyelashes or something.

I eventually got Oakleys with prescription photosensitive lenses. These have no noticeable tint in the dark, which is good for night riding, and get plenty dark in full sun. They are the best glasses I've ever had, period. This approach does limit you to cycling glasses that have two separate lenses--I did once see wraparound-lens sunglasses with prescription inserts, but only once.

Wearing "street" glasses with goggles is always going to be a compromise because you are looking through two layers of lenses: each reduces light transmission and introduces small distortions, and the effect will be multiplied.

4
  • The way my optometrist explained it is this. It is possible to build wrap-around lenses and fit them to very wide angle lenses + frames, but only for those who are solving hyperoptia (far sightedness), but they don't need it anyway! Those solving myopia (near sightedness) use lenses that are thin in the center and thick at the perimeter. Building wrap-around lenses around them would make them hugely thick (and heavy), even for milder prescriptions. The lenses would anyway have to cease correcting vision for peripheral vision.
    – Sam
    Jul 4 at 1:25
  • Re: compromise. Yes and no. Two very clear lenses laid out one after the other can still produce an excellent image. It is just that only the first one (prescription lenses) are built to a high degree of clarity. Getting the second layer to be anywhere near as clear is a challenge, even in those for other sports.
    – Sam
    Jul 4 at 1:27
  • Adam, are you able to explain the process of getting prescription Oakleys? If I go to the Oakley website I can see the category for prescription sunglasses: oakley.com/en-gb/category/prescription/sunglasses but there is no indication how to add prescription lenses to them. Lets say for example I wanted prescription Jawbreakers - how does that work?
    – Andy P
    Jul 4 at 9:44
  • I got mine from my optician, which carries Oakleys. I think that you can order them from the company, but you'd need to send them a current prescription.
    – Adam Rice
    Jul 4 at 17:40
1

When doing shoulder check, I often end up with my eye in front of the frame of the glasses. As a result, thin metal frame serves better as it does not cover the view. These "racing designs", differently, put centimeters of black plastics there. Never got an idea behind.

Ideally I would like to have very wide custom lenses. But seems that there is no such thing on the market.

1

If you search on Amazon for "cycling helmet with visor", you will get quite a few suggestions.

two examples of cycling helmets

This kind of offering is promising, but what is currently on the market is lacking. You either get one from an established brand, but with lousy ventilation, or you get one from any one of very many obscure brands. Some of those have clever features, such as holding the visor with a magnet, or making it possible to lift the visor and yet keep it attached (for scenarios such as entering a dark tunnel after riding in bright daylight). There does not seem to be any kind of standard (ISO/ANSI/DIN/...) that these helmets abide by, and it is not reassuring to use a helmet without established safety criteria or a visor without knowing whether it will shatter in an accident.

1

I’m near sighted and I use sports glasses with photochromic lenses.

It’s this frame which my local opticians store sold me with photochromic, vision corrected lenses instead of the default ones. It’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made for ~450€.

I have perfect vision with them, they protect my eyes from wind and debris (they sit pretty high and there is very little gap between eyebrows and frame) and the photochromic lenses are awesome. Since the frame has no "bottom" part I can also look straight down, for example if something is wrong with my front derailleur (I’m only -1 dioptre, so I can still see fairly well, even if I’m peeking down below the lenses).

0

SportRX, a U.S.-based vendor, has cycling specific eye glasses. They provide "international shipping ... to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand". I get the Rudy Project ones, which have clip-on shades at different levels. And these can be flipped up easily, in a tunnel or something like that. But there are other models too.

2
  • Hi, welcome to bicycles. Someone else has already mentioned Rudy Project glasses; is there anything else you can add?
    – DavidW
    Jul 4 at 17:18
  • How do you find them? What are the positives and negatives from a user's point of view?
    – Criggie
    Jul 4 at 21:41

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