Eyeglass Questions, Several

A little background: I wear RX glasses when driving for distance. I also wear RX glasses for reading. I use progressive lenses in my driving and cycling glasses so I can both see what’s down the road, and glance at the dashboard/cycling computer. The progressives on the bike can occasionally be a problem causing some “blur” when I move my head quickly: sometimes my eyes are aimed in one direction but the lower/reading portion of the lens is what I’m looking thru when I really want the distance portion.

It’s time to renew my RXs and I’m wondering what’s out there for water sports and RX lenses. I’ve tried floating croakies and am not really a fan. I recently saw a paddler wearing what looked like RX swim goggles but I neglected to get more information from him. Maybe they were REC Specs, mentioned in another thread here.

  1. For those who wear glasses with more than 1 RX, do you find progressives to be distracting on the water; for example, going back and forth between distance and reading a chart?
  2. Wondering if I should skip the progressives and just stash a pair of readers in the chart case or PFD pocket.
  3. If you know of a water sport specific RX eyeglass please provide a name. Local optician not particularly helpful unless it Ray Ban or Maui Jim which he sells!
  4. I’m willing to try a different strap but my current cycling glasses really don’t provide enough sun protection on the water (see below).

I’ve tried using my driving and cycling glasses and they really don’t rise to the task. The cycling glasses are very minimalist and vented and let in a lot of glare off the water. And I realize I’ve been referring to eyeglasses but they also need to provide filtering of the sun.


I have rather strong corrective glasses. I wear glasses all of the time. As I got older, I needed a different amount of correction for reading. I got progressives at that time, maybe 8 years ago. At first the difference was a bit strange, for example the floor and tables seemed to curve, instead of being flat. It only took me about a week to get totally used to them. If you wear them all the time you will get used to them quickly.

I am planning on trying an outdoor specific transition coating on my next pair, as I was told that the coating gets darker in direct sunlight and reduces glare. They supposedly will not get dark in the car, because the car windows reduce the uv light that activates the coating. We shall see (pun intended.)


I do wear them all the time. Have been for years. It’s an issue with the specific glasses and what I’m doing, swinging my head up and around while on the bike is not quite the same as looking straight ahead in a car. Sometime the pupils aren’t aligned with where the progressive cut-line is. That’s why I’m wondering if I should dispense with the lower/reading half altogether.

As for photochromic coatings: do your research. Not all are created equal. I have that on my cycling glasses (Rudy Project purchased from a sports optician) and they hardly darken at all. I do a lot of squinting and regret not just getting a full-on sun glass dark coating.

I am quite near sighted, I drive, bicycle, kayak, among other things. Used them in the past when playing tennis and volleyball. I love progressive lenses. Much better than I liked bifocals, when I needed them for reading at arms length while driving. I have two pair, regular, clear glasses for daily use, and sunglasses in sports frames. I use the sunglasses/sports glasses almost exclusively for kayaking, the only exception being at dusk, when I switch back to my clear lenses.

Here are the sports frames I use:

Chopper Sunglasses for Adult Men & Women | Liberty Sport

They wrap around, yet the lenses are large enough to accommodate the progressive lenses. The tint is dark, but not too dark, which allows use during over cast days on the water much of the time. For early or late in the day, when the sun is low, I also have a pair of over sunglasses, like these:

Amazon.com: LVIOE Over Glasses Sunglasses Wrap Around Polarized Sunglasses for Men Women Fit Over Prescription Glasses with UV Protection : Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry
They are polarized, and doubled up with my progressive sunglasses do a pretty good job with light glare during low sun conditions.

I will be replacing these as needed, they meet my needs quite well.

Same experience wearing progressives here, at first going down stairs was scary. I have to point my head right at my reading material, only the center is in focus on the lower half.

I wear the same glasses everywhere. I don’t usually wear straps but have several. Depending on your bows some don’t fit. I don’t like elastic, prefer the strings with the bead that you can slide.

I can read a chart thru the upper half if I hold it far enough away. Non-transition sunglasses might be your best bet.

I preferred progressive’s, but after losing 2 pair (over a number of years), I went for bi-focals (cheaper).
I need the upclose to read my gps (speed, miles, time, tide, map), and the long distance otherwise.

I can’t really provide a perfect solution, but maybe some of my observations will provide a bit of insight.

I’ve been using reading glasses for over 25 years, but just recently got Rx glasses to correct for distance. I initially tried progressive lenses, but absolutely hated them. The distortion drove me nuts when just walking around or driving and I can’t imagine how bad it would be in a moving kayak. After ~3 weeks, I went back and had them replaced with bifocals, which have been great. I don’t care that they’re visible, they work for me. It also really bothers me that with progressives, ~1/3 of the lens is unusable, “the land of optical garbage”, as one online optician puts it

Sunglasses have been more of a problem. I haven’t found any that provide sufficient coverage for cycling/paddling that are available as bifocals (or progressives). There are, however, several that are available with single focus lenses. I bought a pair with the idea of using stick-on bifocal lenses, but discovered that “scratch-resistant, anti-reflective coating” option also prevents the stick-on bifocals from sticking. So much for that plan…

As you said, you could carry a pair of reading glasses for when you need them, but juggling glasses could be sketchy. Another option is to keep a fresnel lens attached to your PFD, foredeck rigging, or chart case. They come in sizes from credit card to “way too big”, they’re thin and light, and inexpensive.

You can get cycling glasses that use prescription inserts behind the main lens, which are available with single focus, bifocal or progressive lenses. Unfortunately, they have two drawbacks:

  1. They are hideously expensive - at least in my “frugal Yankee” opinion.
  2. They would be a bear to keep clean, particularly if you paddle in salt water. Salt and other gunk between the lenses would be difficult to remove while bouncing around in a kayak.

I’m a fan of photochromic lenses for cycling, but for use on the water, polarization is more important, due the the reflected glare (as far as I know, polarization and photochromic are mutually exclusive). However, polarization is not good for cycling - it makes it hard to discern moisture and road imperfections - so polarized glasses won’t do double-duty well. Then of course, photochromic lenses don’t work in a car because the glass blocks the UV that makes the lenses work.

Given all this, the conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m probably going to end up with different glasses for cycling, paddling and driving. I have glasses that work well for driving, and when I find solutions for the other two uses, I’ll post them here.

BTW, I’ve never used anything other than simple straps or retention cords and haven’t lost a pair of glasses on the water.

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I guess I got used to progressive lenses, having used them for over 25 years.

I live in Florida where the sun can me much brighter than many other places and use polarized lenses for that. I think Maui Jim has the best polarization by a long shot. They also took their time before selling out and went with Louis Vutton, while Costa went with Luxotica and has since had some quality control issues.

The Maui Jim World Cup model do a great job of covering and blocking out the sun.

Most sport glasses are built for contact sports, not for solar protection.

I have (distance) inserts in my ski google. Expensive. Tough to keep clean, as you said. I demo’d a pair of inserts for cycling and couldn’t stand the edge of the inserts being in my field of view. I wouldn’t go that route for the cycling or paddling glasses. I’m resigned to the notion of needing something separate for water and pedaling.

I hadn’t thought of the fresnel attached to the chart case. Thank you.

I don’t have any recommendations for the OP, but I appreciate the comments that people have made in response. I need a small correction for distance and pretty strong reading glasses. I’ve been going the route of single lens glasses for distance and a set of readers for when I want look at a chart. Getting out the readers is a pain, but I like having the full field in focus for distant viewing.

I also like using non-tinted glasses with clip-on sunglasses. I can remove or flip up the clip-ons if it clouds up heavily, and the clip-ons provide a sort of protective cover on the front of the glasses. The clip-ons take the abuse and salt spray and I can wipe them off on a dirty shirt if need be. Even the cheap clip-ons from China through ebay are polarized (I tested by rotating them).

I did just order a pair of non-tinted bifocals (not progressive) that I’m going to try out. A whopping $16 shipped on goggles4u.com. I can test those out for using my laptop computer while also watching TV as well as for kayaking. These are my fist dual focus lenses of any type so it will be a new experience.

Rx sunglasses with progressive lenses work great for me. I had trouble with a pair of progressive Rx glasses a couple years ago when I chose the very thin reader part at the bottom…never had a problem with the traditional progressive lense cuts both b4 and after attempting the smaller reader lense.

As a usually agressive paddler in surf, rough water, and teaching rescues, I’ve never lost any RX glasses/sunglasses when using surgical tube style retainers that have floats on the back. I like the bright almost flourescent colors, orange, yellow, green as they can be quickly located IF they come off in surf or while rolling…plus, they are the least expensive retainers I have found - usually at Wal-Mart (and the tubing can be replaced after a year or two - the floats seem to work forever).

My first bifocals were progressive. I don’t know if the issue was poorly fitted lenses by the hack who made them or just getting use to the lenses, but I hated the progressives. My daily eyeglasses are now light weight optical glass because I scratch lenses easily. I use them when biking because they’re more durable.

I also have a pair with polycarbonate lenses, because they’re so much lighter for wearing on long drives. Both the glass lenses and the polycabonate are tinted with the light sensitive coating. The bifocal part has areas that don’t turn as dark, but it isn’t very noticaeble or a distraction.

For the water, I have polycarbonate lenses with a polarized coating, which is not available in glass. They really cut glare. The plastic lenses are UV rated and the glass has a UV coating.

I found the small bifocal too hard to used. The last prescription pair had the bottom 1/3 in bifocal. It was focused at the end of my arm so I could read the dash board and GPS. I can see fine when reading a book without glasses. This time, I had a problem getting the doctor to make the lense the way I wanted them. I now have a hard time using them because they came through with little bifocal insets.

I found the best eyeglass straps at Walmart. They’re like Chinese handcuffs. They slip over the end and hold tight without being able to feel the sleeve. A bead
cinches the strap enough to keep them in place.

Been wearing progressives for over a decade now. I have several pairs that are polarized, one by RayBan that does a good job in wrapping around and blocking light from coming in on the periphery.

I wear it for fishing and general paddling. Generally, don’t wear for surf paddling, especially in colder weather. The splashing and rolling in colder water often results in fogging. In this situation, I can’t see a thing and am better off without the progressives. When weather is warming, I have tried wearing polarized 2.5-3X readers. Doesn’t do as well as progressives, but i can actually see the faces of people near me.

I always use croakies now to retain my progressives, after losing a couple of pairs when flipping over in rougher water conditions.


My lenses never fog up, but they don’t wrap around, which is recommended to reduce UV damage (cataracts). Doctor recommended the polycarbonate for best UV protection or the coating for opticsl glass.

I wear my progressives (for reading, distance and astigmatism) for all but skiing (they don’t fit in my goggles). I like the transition effects and if there’s any chance of dumping while paddling, I wear crockies too.

In regard to distortion, which some have mentioned, more expensive progressives will have a larger sweet spot for a given correction. Bigger frames also help.

That said, it may take a couple of weeks to adapt, but if you’re still feeling or noticing edge effects, blurring, nausea or excessive searching after a few weeks, then they’re not working for you perhaps because of the low quality of the lens, the small size of the frame or, as I recently learned, the lens manufacturer did not take into account your pupil distance given the frame you chose.

Pupil distance must be marked on the fake lens in the store as you intend to wear the frames and not just measured between your eyes. This is important for progressives.


My experience is similar, and I can underscore the importance of pupil positioning for progressive lenses. One time I was not that persnickety in getting a new pair of frames fitted to my face. My pupil position was marked on the “fake” lenses that come with the frames. When I got the frames and lenses, they were awful. Distorted and sort of like being in a carnival fun house of mirrors as I moved and turned my head. I tired for a few days, then gave up. They took the measurements again, and made a new pair of lenses, all was good with the new corrected pupil position lenses.

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I’m comfortable with the line bifocsls, but it sounds like my problem with the progressive lense style was with the optician and/or the lense fitter.

I wear progressives all the time. My sun shades are Maui Jim’s and Costas. Both are wrap around to block the flashes coming in from the side. I keep some sort of croakies on all the time I am on the water.

I’m satisfied that my issue with progressives was not because they were low quality; the lenses were $380. It wasn’t because the interpupilary distance was wrong, because I had no problem with either the upper distance section, the narrow intermediate section or the lower reading section. It was all the blurry junk on either side of the lower half of the lens that always seemed to be moving, that drove me nuts.

Also, I’ve been using sunglasses and safety glasses with bifocal reader sections for a long time and I’m comfortable with them, so going with bifocals is natural for me.

I can’t help but wonder if the main reason that optical shops push progressives the way they do is simply that they can charge more for them, like they do for their hideously overpriced “designer” frames that are nothing but a cash cow for the Luxotica monopoly.


Ive worn progressives for years but a new ophthalmologist told me I really only needed cheaters for reading.
Until recently. I was driving the 4 lane when an EXIT I knew was there converged into my lane . Weird!
On the way home the lane I was in converged with the one next to it and the cars from both lanes were visually in mine. That afternoon the ophthalmologist squeezed me in and in 2 days I had new glasses for driving that are progressives with a kicker. Ironically, my distance vision tests as perfect plus.