Published on: 21 Jul, 2014
Two of my favorite sports…running and cycling, have unique vision demands. It doesn’t get any better than Alberta in the summer if you want to climb a switchback on your mountain bike or train for a half-marathon in the suburban trails.
First and foremost consider protection. Two aspects exist in these sports– first, you should have eye wear that physically protects your eyes from harmful objects. A bug flying into the eye or a corneal abrasion from a branch hitting your eye at high speed on a downhill trail can be serious enough to cause permanent vision loss. The second aspect is ultraviolet light (UV). Our higher elevation and significant sunshine can cause sunburns to the surface of your eyes (a painful short-term condition) as well as contribute to cataracts, macular degeneration and eyelid cancers (in the long term, with repeated UV exposure).
Vision quality is also important in cycling and running sports. Road cycling typically involves intense glare conditions that should be handled by wearing polarized sunglasses. These types of sunglasses cut the glare from light reflected off horizontal surfaces such as pavement or water, allowing the wearer to improve his or her vision and navigate the course with increased confidence. Trail running and mountain biking, on the other hand, often involve rapidly changing lighting conditions. Navigating down a steep slope in shaded conditions with roots, rocks and other debris can be dangerous if the wearer has dark sunglasses on. And then of course there exist age-related focusing problems, which make it difficult for people who train for racing to see their vital stats such as speed, heart rate and pace on their wristwatches.
The best eye wear options for these sports involve glasses that wrap around and fit closely to the face. This helps for safety, UV as well as redirecting air flow when traveling at higher velocities. Photochromic lenses, which auto-adjust the level of tint according to level of UV, can be extremely useful, but depending on the sport they may not react quick enough for rapid transitions to variable lighting conditions. In these cases there are options to change out lenses or carry a second pair with a darker tint. Durable construction with safety-certified lenses is recommended if impact from external objects to the facial area is a possibility. And finally, options exist that incorporate a bifocal lens so the wearer can see their all-important wristwatch-based training stats!
Come and see us so we can have a detailed discussion of the sports you are involved in, then prescribe the option that works best for you.