Prescription cycling glasses are the saving grace of avid bikers with imperfect vision. They help you stay safe, protect your eyes from debris, and make cycling an overall more enjoyable experience. Of course, not all cycling glasses are equal. There are now a range of modern lens types on the market for cyclists, and each one comes with its own set of pros and cons. If you're confused about which lenses are right for you, take a look at this guide before seeing your optometrist.
For Daytime Bikers: Black or Grey Tint
If you tend to cycle during the daytime, you'll need black or grey lenses to block out sunlight. Sunlight can cause eye strain which can be dangerous for cyclists, so it's important to keep your eyes safe from it when you're out biking.
For Commuters: Warm Tint
Red, amber, orange and yellow make up the warm tints available for glasses. Warm tints aren't ideal for daytime use as they reduce colour accuracy, but they're great for cycling during the dimly lit hours of dawn and dusk. These tints increase contrast and clarity, helping you to see more clearly when the sun isn't there to help you. If you're a commuter and cycle primarily to get to and from work during these hours, consider a warm tint.
For Nighttime Bikers: Clear (No Tint)
If you prefer to cycle at night when no one else is around, clear lenses are your best bet. Clear lenses give you the best visual ability in very low light conditions and don't affect colour accuracy, which is important when it comes to avoiding night time hazards.
For Varied Conditions: Photochromic
Photochromic lenses (also known as transitions lenses) are spectacle lenses which adjust according to light levels. These lenses are clear indoors or in darker conditions; they then automatically darken when exposed to UV light (sunlight), acting as sunglasses. In the past, photochromic lenses would have been considered inappropriate for cycling as they transitioned from light to dark too slowly. However, there are now many fast-transitioning photochromic glasses available on the market that are great for cyclists who need to get up and go quickly. Photochromic lenses are definitely the most versatile choice, though it's important to note that they will never get as dark as actual sunglasses. If you need a particularly dark lense during the daytime, you may want to consider frames with interchangeable lenses. Photochromic lenses can also be expensive, so you'll need to factor your budget into this decision.
For Mountain Bikers: Brown Tint
Do you spend your days biking up and down rocky trails and uneven terrain, weaving between trees and bushes. If so, consider a brown-tinted lense. Like grey tints, brown tints are dark and keep your eyes protected from the sun. On top of that, brown lenses also increase your depth perception, as well as contrast and clarity. These are crucial assets when you're 'fighting' against your environment and need to avoid trail obstacles. Brown tints filter out blue light, so they can also help to make your trail more clear by enhancing the different shades of green from foliage and grass.
For High-Tech Bikers: Non-Polarised
Polarised lenses are coated lenses available in a variety of colours. Polarisation reduces glare from the sun, making it easier for you to cycle in the lighter hours. Polarised lenses are a popular choice for many cyclists, but there's a specific group they're not ideal for: the technophile bikers who use cycle computers. The polarised coating on these lenses can make computer screens appear distorted, which means many cyclists have to remove their glasses just to use their computer. If bike computing is a big part of your cycling experiences, consider opting for non-polarised lenses.