Glasses vs. contact lenses

graciasz

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Apr 11, 2022
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california
As a fairly inexperienced paddler, I have a question for you fellow kayakers with less than perfect eyesight. Do you wear glasses or contact lenses when on the water? Any comments on rolling with one vs. the other?
I am quite interested in your responses.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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I wear glasses-'transition' auto darkening glasses with a bifocal prescription. Cheap ones from Zenni for kayaking . If I'd ever worn contacts, I'd probably use them, but I'd still want to wear sunglasses. Whether my glasses stay on my head during a roll depends on what I'm wearing for headgear, I think. So far, I've only rolled for practice. They certainly stay put if I'm wearing a helmet liner and helmet, or a neoprene balaclava.
 

CRPaddler

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Oct 15, 2010
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I normally wear contacts. In general they've been fine in waves, currents, and rolling.

I mainly wear glasses and use disposable contacts for sports ... and kayak touring. The salt water and bacteria in the ocean may have an impact on permanent contacts. I'm not sure if that's the case, check with an optometrist.
 

Peter-CKM

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I wear prescription glasses when kayaking. Always use a strap on glasses to hold on. if I am rolling or in bouncy water, I'll generally also have a strappy neoprene cap, helmet, or a hat with straps as extra protection.
 

chodups

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I wear soft contacts. Monovision. Right eye for distance and left eye for close up or reading. My eyesight is in transition (again) so mostly I am wearing only my right contact (distance) and going commando on the left eye at this time. So my right eye reads my deck compass conditions and shoreline while my left eye reads charts, GPS and basic close work. It has worked really well for decades but, as I said, my vision is currently in transition so life is full of compromise.

If you decide to try monovision I've found that it important to find someone who is experienced fitting for it and LISTENS really well. The optical specialists who get it can make it really easy while non-listeners can waste your time.
 

SeanWeijand

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May 25, 2021
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Vancouver
I have real eye issues with nerve damage in my right eye causing double vision. I can sort of get it corrected with lenses but It still occurs.

I never considered Monovision which might be a solution for enjoying our paddles more. I am going to look into that.

This forum is always a wealth of information!!
 

Yo H

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Feb 21, 2022
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BC
I usually wear RX sunglasses with a leash.
I use them for kayak touring and ski touring as well.
I wear contact lenses for surf kayaking.
 

JKA

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Jul 25, 2016
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Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
Great answers, but I have additional questions for the group.

I'm currently swapping between x1 hobby glasses for general wear and x 2.75 for reading etc. They are cheap at the supermarket.

When paddling I've been using the x1 without sunglasses. When needing to read a map, check camera settings or write while afloat I use a magnifying glass attached to my PFD.

This setup is annoying, and the lack of sunglasses is far from ideal.

Recently I, finally, went to get my eyes tested and the result was I need x1 for general wear, and x 2.75 for reading etc!

However, therein lies the challenge.

Do I go with progressives? I'm told they can narrow the perceived field of view and make walking/hiking a challenge due to a blurred foreground. Do I get transitional lenses? Do I get prescription sunglasses? Or, do I get sunglasses that go over-the-top of clear prescription lenses?

Thoughts from experienced wearers please.

Sorry to the OP for the tread hijack.

Cheers

John
 

Greg_B

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Jun 18, 2019
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Delaware
...

Recently I, finally, went to get my eyes tested and the result was I need x1 for general wear, and x 2.75 for reading etc!

However, therein lies the challenge.

Do I go with progressives? I'm told they can narrow the perceived field of view and make walking/hiking a challenge due to a blurred foreground. Do I get transitional lenses? Do I get prescription sunglasses? Or, do I get sunglasses that go over-the-top of clear prescription lenses?

Thoughts from experienced wearers please.

Sorry to the OP for the tread hijack.

Cheers

John
I have worn glasses most of my life. I am nearsighted. As I got older, I needed more magnification for reading, so went with bifocals. Perhaps they might be an option for you?

Then I needed trifocals, about 15 or so years ago, at which point I gave progressives a try. Well, I am still using them they worked so well. I do not have any trouble using them for anything I do, other than very close work, when no glasses work the best. I made sure I got the widest view lenses I could, and have not noticed any blurred foreground issues. You do need to get them precisely aligned with your pupil. But I like them a lot better than bifocals, and I have no desire to try anything else.

Before I even had bifocals, I always got both sunglasses and clear glasses in my prescription. While costly this solution seemed to work the best for my purposes. Plus I automatically have spare glasses with me, in some sense. I have not tried progressive lenses, though I do ponder that from time to time. The things about progressives that make me hesitate, is that they (at least last time I looked into them) don't get as dark as I usually get sunglasses in, and they do not get as clear as my regular lenses. That suggested to me that I would be less happy under dim light and strong daylight situations.

I have found that my prescription sunglasses, on the other hand, are sometimes a bit darker than I would like, so that is something to consider as a point in favor of progressives...

Last year, I added sunglasses that fit over my prescription sunglasses, for kayaking into the sun. These are also polarized. That has been helpful when the sun is low.
 
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Peter-CKM

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I have used prescription bifocal sunglasses for a long time (why I have glasses straps AND also wear a hat or helmet. that also straps on over the glasses to ensure they stay in place - don't want my expensive prescription glasses to fall off).

For around town (and rarely exercise use), I use prescription lined bifocals with the photocromatic lenses.

I used to be nearsighted (-2.25 or so). I had a second set of sports sunglasses for biking and kayaking - non-bifocal and non-photocromatic. Not a frame style that uses interchangable lenses, as those lenses are likely to fall out in things like rolling or surfing. If I needed to read, I would just take glasses off.

Now I had cataracts done (and other work due to retina issues), so ended up far sighted (+.25 for regular, +3.0 for reading in my main eye, other eye doesn't see well enough to read). So I could go without glasses or just use standard, non-prescription sunglasses, but wouldn't be able to read without putting glasses on. I am so used to bifocals from using them since I was a kid, that I liked that idea. But I wanted a cheap solution until I was sure my prescrpiotn was settled. I ended up finding some cheap sunglasses on Amazon that are bifocal, and use those (specifically: https://amzn.to/3xwOaol).
 
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JohnAbercrombie

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There's lots of realy useful information here; thanks!
A few thoughts, adding to my initial comments:
I've been nearsighted since I was a kid and have always worn glasses. When I started having trouble reading (charts, GPS, car speedometer) I needed a reading prescription added to my glasses. I went with progressive lenses a.k.a. 'progressive bifocals' with the distance prescription on top and a very low power reading prescription on the bottom. I was warned about problems adaptng to the progressive lenses, but I found that my brain adjusted in a week or so- the keyboard no longer swayed up and down when I looked at it, etc.. I've worn that type of glasses for the past 25 years, now with a bit stronger 'reading prescription' in the bottom half of the lenses.

For kayaking, biking and other outdoor use, I have progressive (2 prescriptions blended at the middle) lenses with photochromic/'Transition'/auto-darkening added. Those lenses need UV to cause the darkening, so are not good for driving in sunny conditions. For the car, I have 'bifocal progressive' sunglasses which I only use when the sun is low.

I buy expensive glasses from the optometrist for daily (mostly indoor) wear. The other glasses are mostly cheap pairs ordered online. For paddling, I use cheap 'aviator' (large) glasses with progressive (2 prescriptions) and 'Transition' auto darkening which cost just over $100, ordered online. They work OK for me - the prescriptions seem accurate and they are functional, though the frame quality ($20 frames) is obviously not comparable to a brand name (Silhouette) $400 frame. In my area, one dors have to be prepared to bend the online glasses to fit, as the 'optical cartel' locally will not work on those glasses. My attitudes about purchasing glasses changed when I found out that the local optical outlets were getting lenses direct from China, just like me with my online purchases. :)
 
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Tangler

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Nanaimo, BC
I tried progressives but didn't like the blurred edges to my vision and having to move my head to get peripheral objects in view. Possibly they have improved.
Now I wear bifocals which work well for me. Sharp all-around distance vision and good close-up for reading a chart/GPS or tying on a small fishhook. There is an annoyingly blurry midrange though...
I use good (custom) clip-on sunglasses. The downside is that I need to wear a brimmed hat to avoid distracting reflections if the sun shines between the two lenses.
I guess nothing is perfect...
 
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kayakwriter

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Feb 27, 2006
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I wear pretty strong prescription contacts when kayaking. They're great for distance, and focus ok on my deck compass and charts. For precision close-up work at sea, I carry a pair of cheap drugstore "readers." They're about $5.00 a pair, so no tears if they fall overboard.
 

Natasha

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Dec 12, 2006
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For calm conditions while sea kayaking I'll occasionally wear my glasses with a strap but generally I wear contacts since I don't have prescription sunglasses. Definitely contacts for whitewater kayaking.

I once forgot my contacts for whitewater kayaking and wore my glasses with an improvised strap. They stayed on, but immediately fogged after each roll. This made it extremely challenging to see what hazard flipped me and avoid the next one.
 
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