When riding, a cyclist is exposed to wind that carries dirt and debris causing itchy and irritated eyes. Cycling glasses can protect your eyes from these elements, shield you from ultraviolet radiation and the sun, and increase contrast to help you see pot holes, rocks, and other road conditions better. Lenses can change color with the lighting conditions to accommodate the time of day and weather you ride in. They can fit with a prescription lens. Here is what to look for:
Ultraviolet Protection: Since cycling takes place outside, you need to make sure your eyes are protected 100% from ultraviolet radiation. (See UV and its Effects on the Eyes
Frame Style: Since riding takes place at a certain speed, and since flying dirt and debris is common in this activity, the best frame is going to be a wrapped around style. This will shield the eyes from the wind, important for contact lens wearers, as wind can cause the contacts to dry. Also, a wrap around style will also better keep dirt and debris out of the eyes. To offer proper ventilation for this style, the frame must have "air holes" or channels at the top of the frame to prevent fogging. An upper sweat bar can also help control fogging. Also, a frame that has interchangeable lenses will help those who ride in varying light conditions. (see lens colors below)
Lens Color: Since riding make take place at different times of the day, or in various weather conditions, interchangeable lenses work the best. They allow you to swap out lenses to correspond to the lighting condition you are riding in. In bright sunlight, you can use a dark sunglass lens. A gray lens will be the darkest, but a brown or amber lens can help increase contrast so you can better read the terrain (as in pot- holes, rocks, mud, etc.) When riding in low light or overcast days, a yellow or vermilion (rose) lens can be used to block glare in this lighting condition. At night, a clear lens can be used to shield wind and debris without compromising vision. A photochromatic lens is also designed for varying lighting conditions. This is a lens designed to change color with the amount of light outside. Thus, in bright sunlight, it will act as a true sunglass. Yet, in the morning, late afternoon, or on overcast days, the lens will lighten up so that they still can be used, but let more light through the lens so you can see.
Prescription Lenses: If you wear a prescription, make sure the frame you are choosing can accommodate the lens. Many cycling glasses have an Rx insert that can fit behind the lens of the glass so you interchange the lenses for various lighting conditions while purchasing one prescription lens. Prescription lenses available in "direct in" technology where the full lens is the actual prescription (without insert) and can still be interchangeable. Polycarbonate or trivex lenses are recommended for impact resistance.
Recommended Styles: Rudy Project has polycarbonate lenses, wrap around styling, air holes and interchangeable lenses. Also, some styles are available with a prescription insert or Direct in lenses and photochromatic lenses. Switch has magnetic interchangeable lenses so that you can quickly and easily pop out lenses. Adidas also has direct in interchangeable prescription lenses. Bolle, Smith, Tifosi, and Wiley-X Interchangeables make frames with wrap around styling and interchangeable lenses and prescriptions are available with some styles. Julbo also makes style with side shields for wind protection or extreme wraps and most are available with prescription. If your eyes tear easily, you may want a full foam seal like the Wiley-X or 7Eye by Panoptx. For high prescriptions, see the Hilco Leader