When it comes to cycling safety, the helmet gets most of the attention. This is understandable because no one wants to suffer a concussion or brain damage from a fall. But a helmet alone isn’t enough because it provides no protection for the eyes. A good pair cycling glasses protects the eyes from direct injury as well as from irritants that can indirectly cause the cyclist to get into an accident. Any old pair of darkened shades will not do because they aren’t built with cycling safety in mind. Like a helmet, cycling glasses are safety gear that you always wear regardless of the weather.
When selecting your cycling glasses, keep these four considerations in mind:
A common problem in many parts of the country is bug collisions. They aren’t life threatening unless a large insect such as a bee impacts an unprotected eye. This can cause a cyclist to fall or ride into the path of a car. On the other hand, impact with road debris can do serious damage to the eyes.
In addition to projectiles, another type of impact may occur when you fall from your bike. Your glasses are close to your eyes and if they hit the pavement while on your face in a fall, a shattered lens can injure your eye. The lens should be made from a material with high impact resistance such as polycarbonate. It’s also important that the product states that it’s suitable for cycling such as Nike glasses for cycling. The reason is that the lens may be too thin, even if it’s made from polycarbonate.
Ultraviolet damage to the eyes is a cumulative process. The more you expose your eyes to the sun’s UV radiation, the greater your risk of developing any one of a number of UV related eye problems including cataracts. It makes no difference whether you get an excessive dose over a short period or lots of small doses over many years. The cumulative eye damage is the same.
Your glasses should have 100% UVA/UVB protection. Ironically, wearing a pair of dark sunglasses that doesn’t protect against UV light is more damaging to your eyes than not wearing any glasses. That’s because the dark shades cause the pupils to enlarge in order to allow more light into the eye. That means more UV light enters the eye than would happen without glasses.
Sun protection also entails cutting down on light intensity on bright sunny days. Long periods of exposure can cause discomfort and headache. Neutral gray is a good all-around color because it preserves true colors, which is important at traffic lights. Green is another color for bright sunlight. On the other hand, yellow works well for cloudy weather, and if you must cycle at night, use a clear lens.
Alternatively, photochromic lenses adjust their darkness according to the ambient light conditions. They get darker when the lighting gets brighter and vice versa. Yet another option is polarized lenses, which are highly effective at cutting down reflected glare from horizontal surfaces such as the backs of cars and wet pavement.
Wraparound cycling glasses have a number of benefits. They increase your peripheral vision because the lenses curve around to the side of your eyes. This extra coverage also blocks out more bright sunlight including UV light. In addition, they block out more wind and protect against flying debris and rocks coming from the side.
Your cycling glasses should stay put regardless of your body or head position. Because everyone’s face is unique, your glasses should have adjustable temples and nosepiece. You can adjust these for the best grip, stability, and comfort. Never over compensate with too tight a fit because this will cause pain and become a distraction.