Prescription eyewear options

Hey all, UK cyclist here. I am at that stage where my ageing eyes need prescription glasses in order for me to be able to see my phone, etc (I’m long-sighted but also a bit lazy eyed squinty). I used to get by without wearing prescription lenses, but now I feel I have to bite the bullet.
The options (in the UK) seem to be:

  1. Standard sunnies with inserts - are posh (eg Oakley) worth the extra over cheap (eg Tifosi)?
  2. Custom glasses/lenses - no need for second lens module

And - should I just use an online provider or my local optician? Experience, gripes, etc welcome

I’ve used a few options. Inserts in addidas sunglasses were ok except when they steamed up on damp misty days. It was a pain to wipe them clear as I had to pull the inserts out. It only happened on the occasional ride though. I then bought prescription sunglasses on line. These were really good although it’s a bit pot luck if they fit you or not. I’ve now bought a pair of full frame Oakleys and had them reglazed by an on line retailer. This has been the best option for me as you can try the glasses first. I’ve got reactive lenses which work really well even for mountain biking. Oakley do their own prescription lenses but my prescription is too strong for them.

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(Disclaimer: No UK experiences, particularly wrt costs, I live in Germany)

I use some prescription glasses (Rudy Project) with self-tinting glasses. Convenient, especially when I’m out for longer periods (think bike packing) or commuting in changing light conditions. That convenience, however, is quite expensive, even though I didn’t use the „official“ glasses.

If/when my eyes get worse, I’ll probably get over myself and use contact lenses and any sunglasses I might like. Will be cheaper and more flexible.

The idea of inserts never appealed to me.

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I’ve had a few Tifosi models, started with non-prescription but since have gone to progressive lenses; not sure what they call them in the UK but they’re good for close up and distance.

Tifosi vs Oakley; if you’re getting prescription lenses, and add in features like transition lenses (get darker in the light, almost clear at night) then the frames are only a small part of the price (at least here in the US). My $50 Tifosi frames end up being over $400 once you get the prescription and transition option.

BTW: I really like the transition lenses since I sometimes do night rides, so they’re the only glasses I need.

I tried inserts once, they were a mess on a damp day with fogging.

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I have a set of prescription sunglasses from a local optician which look pretty much like cycling glasses and work great.

When it is raining or dark I use normal glasses.

The issue some riders I know had with contacts was them falling out hitting potholes or in falls and since I’m really quite nearsighted it would be an issue for me.

I’m on my third pair of Tifosi with Rx lenses from SportRx (one stolen, one lost, now on third pair). They are <$300 US. I know I am not super responsible with on/off sunglasses so that price point feels better than Oakleys etc. recommend. Not sure if they service UK.

I used after finding my normal optician wanting about £400. I have never understood why eyewear needs to be so expensive, although I can see that marketing and celeb endorsements can’t be cheap.

I am short sighted with a few other numbers in the prescription (sphere, prism) and chose spex4less as their website allowed me to enter more of those numbers, so I reckoned I’d get lenses that are better suited to my eyes. £75 all in for a Cebe frame that seems quite good, and I’m happy with the optics - not exactly the same as my normal specs but near enough that after a few minutes I adjust.

My nose hates heavy glasses so I didn’t want the insert type. No connection with that website, just a contented customer.

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Thanks all, useful - the issue with fogging is important for me, as here in the UK the weather can be…variable! A lens that can adapt to light conditions (like my regular glasses) would be ideal. Maybe a simple single-vision glazed lens is the way to go, perhaps I’ll chat to an optician.
FAO @Chris_Shultz - Tifosi are also in the UK, in fact the distributor is based not far from where I live!

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Another vote for the Tifosi sunglasses. I use the photochromatic lenses which means they are good for all lighting conditions.

Adidas has spun off the sunglasses part, that’s now EvilEye ( Sportglasses - Made in Austria | evil eye® [AT].

I ride with the EvilEye Halfrim Pro (now called ‘trace’) with inserts for 20+ years now and am obviously very happy with them.
They now offer prescription glasses instead of the inserts. I tried them the last time I was at the local optician and they are awesome. No distortion whatsoever, despite the curved glas. Absolutely amazing! Unfortunately costly (EUR 500 area), but very likely my next sunglasses.

I wouldn’t go online, have read several reports saying that quality of online opticians is mediocre at best. Have never ordered glasses online though, so no first hand experience.


I bought my first pair of prescription sunglasses when I was 20 and I won’t look back.

I chose to buy Oakley sunglasses and I am now on my fourth pair since my original purchase 14 years ago (I lost one pair and use the others for different activities). The prescription Oakley’s are pricey but I’ve never had second thoughts. Their quality and durability are impressive. The one downside is that Oakley prescription lenses are not available in any of the styles with a one-piece shield (like the Sutro line).

I purchased the sunglasses from an eye glasses shop that retails Oakley. They ensure the correct prescription and eye measurements are sent to Oakley.

Another option is to wear contacts and then wear whatever sunglasses you would like. This is my wife’s approach.

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I highly vote against any eyewear with the insert. I tried it (and paid ALOT) for Bolle’s. It was nice to change the lenses of the main sunglasses and they looked great but the fact that the insert sits closer to your eyebrows makes them fog so easily. And the sweat from your eyebrows runs down and hits the insert way too easy. I would have to stop constantly, pop the insert, and wipe them down and with a wet/humid day my jersey didn’t do anything to help.

I got just ray-ban style sunglasses with prescription sunglasses which were infinitely better, all of the fogging and wetness issues went away. The issue with straight prescription glasses is lower light, changing light/rain. i would be on gravel rides and hit these gnarly potholes when the tree cover made it really dark, or it would start raining and light would plummet and I could barely see.

I just went to the eye doctors and am getting another pair with transition lenses which I’m hoping solve the problem. I also couldn’t see anything on the coffee stop (no glasses, can’t see the menu on the wall, and dark lenses/low light of cafe couldn’t see…).

I’ve tried contacts many times, but always get dry eyes eventually. They’re OK for shorter rides, but anything over a few hours I don’t want to have to worry about my eyes being annoyed.

I vote prescription with transitions.

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I agree completely about inserts, at least with Bolle frames. In addition to 2 additional surfaces to collect sweat and dust, reflections between/off the lenses was irritating. I am able to make contacts work so use regular cycling eyewear (Rudy Project, Roka) but it is important to note there are vast differences in contact lens material that can make a huge difference with respect to dry eye.

A headband under the helmet and :wave: sweaty eyes :sunglasses: (from someone who sweats a lot - I use Castelli headbands but I am sure others would do the trick. Wind dries sweat on the band before it runs down on your face).

It’s less sweat on my forehead, more because I have full eyebrows and they would be directly behind the insert and would cause the issue. I usually wear gloves to wipe away forehead sweat and that never solved that particular issue with the Bolles

I am terribly nearsighted, and also now need reading glasses. I’ve used contacts forever, but they started to annoy my eyes, and they didn’t solve the reading glasses issue. I now have a special frame that Rudy Projects makes for people with strong prescriptions, in a photochromic, progressive lens. They are awesome- I can ride at night with them and in strong sunlight, and I can read my computer. The lens is by necessity smaller than most current cycling sunglasses, but they look good enough that people have complimented me on them and asked where they can get them. Highly recommended.

Hmm – I was getting ready to order a Rudy Project insert literally tomorrow (I was lucky enough to receive a free Cutline frame/lens), but this is almost enough to scare me off of it.

Browsing around at Oakley, Tifosi, etc, something that I’m noticing is that almost no one is listing what the prescription limits are; I have to imagine that certain higher-intensity prescriptions aren’t compatible with certain frames, though maybe that’s an outdated perspective. Anyone have a good source for checking that sort of compatibility?

If you can find an eyeglasses shop that retails Oakley or another brand, they will be able to help you. Online, SportRx may be able to help as well.

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I used SportRx- they pointed me towards the Rudy Project Rydon + Rx dock. I have a very strong prescription, and they were very firm about this being the best option. You can also of course go for a smaller, non-cycling specific frame. Even with the highest index lenses, they just get too thick in most cycling sunglass frames. I have been very happy with the Rydon +; mine are progressive and photochromic. They look like pretty normal cycling glasses.

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It sounds like you don’t need a very strong prescription if you’re just now thinking of getting prescription riding glasses, so I don’t think you’ll need a pair with an insert.

I have non-cycling specific sporty sunglasses with transition brand lenses. I think they are the previous generation XTRactive. They work well and I’m quite happy with them. I find the tint is always appropriate for the conditions, and I don’t notice them once they’re on. My only gripe is the frames that I bought are a little bulky, but that was my poor of picking the frames that don’t fit my face.

The specific lenses that I have do not activate well behind a windshield, so they don’t work well as driving sunglasses. The new transition lenses may address that better. But I will say that the glasses do get almost entirely clear during low light conditions, so I can ride during the day and into the late evening/night without having to change lenses/glasses, which I like.