If you wear glasses and do not wear contacts like me, then cycling can be a drag. Regular prescription glasses may or may not work well when you are riding at 20+ mph. There’s nothing worse than a pair of regular glasses that seem to channel air right into your eyeballs.
In spite of this, I never wore any kind of prescription cycling sunglasses until the summer of 2012. The main issue for me was astigmatism. I tried a pair of bicycling glasses four or five years ago, and the shaped lenses gave me a serious fishbowl effect because of my astigmatism. I spent probably $500, and I couldn’t even wear them.
But last year, I rode the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. I attended the CTS Leadville camp in early August, and it quickly became apparent that at over 10,000 feet of elevation in Colorado, the sun was extremely bright and hard on my eyes. I was going to have to find some kind of solution for sunglasses.
A friend of mine told me about an online store that specialized in prescription glasses for various sports, including cycling, ADS Sports Eyewear. It just so happened that this store is located in the Dallas area. When I mentioned my astigmatism issue, he said that this store used a special technology to make their lenses called “Freeform Digital Lens Surfacing.” Actually, I think he just called it digital lens, but that’s what he was referring to. He told me that this kind of lens also worked with astigmatism.
I was skeptical, after my very expensive failure buying standard prescription lenses several years before. The last thing I wanted to do is spend another $500+ and end up with glasses that I couldn’t wear.
But I had to have some kind of solution, so I decided to call this store on the phone and see if I could come in. Turns out that their online store is also a regular prescription glasses store right off the George Bush Turnpike, near I-75.
The store had a small showroom with a very big selection of sports specific prescription eyewear. I saw prescription sunglasses for motorcycle riding, prescription goggles for skiing, prescription goggles for racquetball and tennis and more.
The saleswoman was very knowledgable, and initially suggested some Oakley Half Jacket sunglasses. They didn’t fit me very well though, and rubbed against my eyebrows, so we ended up trying on Adidas, and I ended up with the Adidas Adivista, which has adjustable arms on the sunglasses so that I can adjust them where they don’t make contact with my eyebrows.
I talked to the saleswoman about my astigmatism issue, and that I was seriously concerned that I was about to spend hundreds of dollars on prescription sunglasses that might not work for me. She told me that she had astigmatism too, and that she had a pair of digital lens sunglasses herself, and that they really did work. If they didn’t, then they had a good return policy for prescription sunglasses.
So I took the plunge, gave her my new prescription I had just gotten from my optometrist, and bought the glasses.
I ended up buying transition lenses that are clear in the dark, and get dark when UV light hits them. The disadvantage with transition lenses is that they WILL NOT work inside a car, because car windows block UV light, so the lenses won’t ever turn dark. But since I often ride at 6 a.m. with a headlight, I wanted a pair of prescription sunglasses that I could wear early in the morning as well as when the sun was up. So that was a limitation that I was willing to accept.
A couple of weeks later, the sunglasses were ready, and I went to pick them up. They handed them to me to take outside and try, and gave me a slip of paper that explains how your brain needs to adapt to new glasses, and that it can take a week or longer. The saleswoman hadn’t mentioned this, so I was immediately worried that the glasses weren’t going to work for me and it was going to be a repeat of my previous experience.
But here’s the awesome news. I went outside and put them on, and although they were different than my regular glasses and seemed a little bit weird, they did not have the fishbowl effect! I was able to drive home wearing them without a problem, and was able to ride with them the next day.
The weirdness wore off in a few days, and I now go back and forth between my regular glasses and these sunglasses daily, and don’t notice a difference anymore. So that digital lens stuff is legit!
That photo at the top of the post is me, wearing the sunglasses at Leadville. Success!
ADS Sports Eyewear did not ask me to write a review, and probably doesn’t even know who I am. I paid the full retail cost of the glasses that I purchased from them. I don’t think they have an affiliate program, and I don’t receive any kind of compensation for recommending them. I am writing this review to help others who might be looking for prescription cycling sunglasses, like I was last summer.