Prescription Biking Glasses

Starting the Outlaw Trail 100 with my old sunglasses.

For years, I’ve worn the same sunglasses for biking that I do for anything else.  They’re at least five years old, with glass lenses. (Although the lenses appear amber in the picture, they’re really dark gray — the early morning light has a weird effect.)

When I got them, I asked that they just contain my  distance prescription, because I felt at the time that I didn’t need bifocals outdoors.  They’ve been okay.  They’re a little heavy, because of the glass lenses, and the prescription could use a little more oomph now.  I think the next pair of cycling glasses I get will also have the bifocal prescription, which would help immensely when I have to do bike-related things like read the pressure gauge on my tire pump, or try to follow a cue sheet on a long ride. They’re not particularly stylish.  (Not even remotely.)

Stylin' the oldies but goodies at the MS 150.

But they are a little better than the ones I experimented with at the MS150 earlier this year.  These, too, have only my distance prescription. Surprisingly, the prescription  is still good — a bit better than my everyday sunglasses.  They’ve got gray lenses too, but there’s a bit of vermillion mixed in, and when they pick up the red color of the frames, the lenses look dark red.  But they’re at least 15 years old, and they look it.  After seeing pictures of myself in them, I stopped using them.

So lately, I’ve been thinking it’s time for some new biking shades.  One thing that’s always appealed to me about biking glasses is their wraparound style.  But because of the curved lenses, I wondered if they lent themselves to complex prescriptions.  I’ve poked around online a bit to see what’s out there, and the ones that are most interesting to me are also the most expensive (Of course, it works that way with bikes, too).

Yeah, something like these.

I noticed that Performance has a moderately-priced wraparound sunglass with interchangeable lenses — and it can also take a clip-on adapter for your prescription.  You just attach it to the nose bridge on the inside of the glasses.  If it’s any good, it might be just the ticket.

But I have to defer to the expertise of Bike Noob readers.  Do you wear cycling glasses with prescription lenses?  What kind?  How well do they work for you?  Do you have experience with the clip-in prescription adapters?

Will Bike Noob have to continue wearing his flat lenses and being uncool out on the roads?


  1. Janice in GA says

    Years ago, BB (Before Bifocals), I had a pair of sunglasses with the clip-in adapter. They worked fine, and I liked the wrap-around style too.

    Mine had a foam pad across the brow that was useful for catching sweat too. Only problem with it was if I forgot and leaned my forehead against something. It was like squeezing out a sponge.

    Then my Bouncer dog ate them. :( And like you said, they were expensive, and I wasn’t riding that much then, and I never bothered to get any more.

    These days I usually ride with my regular bifocals and the smallest pair of those ugly “granny-style” over-the-glasses sunglasses I can find. Horribly dorky.

    Do you have a “computer” prescription? Mine is kinda between my distance and my bifocal prescription, and that actually works pretty well for riding too. But I can look over my glasses if I need to see close up. I don’t actually need prescription glasses to read.

  2. Mel Hughes says

    My regular prescription glasses act like wind tunnels when I ride. The metal frames make them a little heavier than I would like. For a while this summer, I rode with a pair of Oakley “M” frames. They have the dark gray lens that has holes in the top for ventilation. These have no prescription. My distant vision is fair but my near vision begins somewhere around ten feet out. So I bought the clear, flexible “stick-on” reading lenses to put inside on the bottom of my Oakleys. This allowed me to be able to read the bike computer and to do things like change a tire using my eyes instead of touch. (I also carry a tiny pair of cheap, drugstore reading glasses in my seat bag, so I can take off my sunglasses if I do have to work on the bike while out on a ride.)

    I thought about getting glasses with the prescription inserts. But after using the Oakleys this summer, I really feel that lighter is better. Having the increased air flow that the vented lenses provide was a big plus as well. I found my glasses fogged much less than usual. I have decide that after the first of the year (when my medical flexible spending account is refilled,) I am going to get a pair of Oakleys with prescription lenses. They have a reputation for making great prescriptions. I just have to decide on the frame. I may also have a ventilated “M” frame lens made in prescription as well.

    I don’t know yet if they can do a “progressive” prescription. But one way or the other, having a good, light weight pair of sunglasses will serve several purposes besides just riding.

  3. DomW says

    I have a pair of Oakley “Juliet” frames with prescription lenses; I think they can go to around /-5 in strength, although not sure about ‘complications’.

    Although expensive – about £400, probably $600-650 – mine are now 10 years old and in that time have withstood cycling, running and skiing pretty well.

  4. says

    I’m with DomW, especially if the lenses are not made out of glass. You never know when you’ll be involved in an accident and the last thing you want is your glasses to cause you additional injury. Go with the Oakleys.

  5. Cliff says

    Sports Optical in Colorado put my my trifocal prescription in my Smith frames for me. The Smiths seem to be a more radical curve than the Oakleys you are looking at.

    I had my local eyeglass store take the measurements for me and they fit just fine. I love them, I needed a new pair after an endover on the road that drove my old frames into my farhead, OUCH. Luckily no damage that a couple of stitches could not fix.

    The more curvaceous Smiths give my peripheral vision the same protection as my focal vision.

  6. Ken says

    It may be cheaper overall to just get contact-lenses and a pair of inexpensive wrap-arounds from Performance. I know this strays from the original question, but this is my solution to the higher level “blindness” problem.

  7. says

    I got contact lenses earlier this year for the first time in a long while, and they are much better for cycling. now I can wear any old sunglasses. I haven’t really found a pair of sunglasses that I really like, but the options are limitless now.

    Not sure if you can do contacts if you have bifocals?

  8. says

    I have gone without sunglasses until now, since my prescription Ray-Ban type sunglasses are way too heavy and unpractical for cycling. But I have only been riding since late August, and in Belgium, where I live, sun is not the number one concern especially in the autumn.

    For the spring, I plan on getting disposable contact lenses, and then have complete freedom to choose nice wrap-arounds. Other solutions entail too many compromises.

  9. Barbara says

    I went to contacts for cycling and a cheap pair of sunglasses with interchangeable lenses from Performance Cycling. Being in my 50’s I also need readers so I carry those in my saddle bag in case I need them….which I really don’t ever use but they are there just in case…..if I look like a female Fred in order to see something close up…so be it….I’ll redeem myself by dropping anyone who dares to make fun of me!

  10. Jeremy says

    I’ve ridden with Oakley prescription glasses for years. Both a “clear” pair and a “sunglass” pair. Oakley does their own grinding and tinting so you can get the same colors and effects on the prescription lenses as you can for any of their styles. There is a limit to how much correction they can do for wrap-around glasses though.

    I also really like Oakley for insisting that they keep Lance on their insurance when he was first diagnosed with cancer (the carrier wanted to drop him). Takes a good company to stand up for a sponsored athlete like that.

  11. Kevin says

    I have a pair of Rudy Project Rydon sunglasses ( with a prescription insert. Definitely a bit pricey when you add in the insert and getting the prescription filled, but I’ve had them for at least five years. I try to take really good care of them (always keeping them in a hard-shell case) and they’ve held up very nicely. Quite a bit better than when I just wore my regular glasses to ride.

    Rudy Project also carries sunglasses that can be made with your prescription in the main lenses (, although there are some limitations to the prescriptions they can fill. My astigmatism is too severe, so I had to opt for the inserts. However, I’m also thinking of going back to wearing contacts, so it will be nice to have the ability to wear the same sunglasses either way.

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