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Climbing/Mountaineering with prescription glasses


Original Post
Mike Womack · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 1,526

Hey everyone, I am seeking advice or tips on rock climbing, camping, mountaineering, and backpacking with prescription glasses.  I used to leave my contacts in for multiple days at a time and tough it out, but recent eye problems (super dry eyes, infections) have led me to only tolerate glasses the past 2 years or so.  Lately, I've just worn my prescription glasses with chums and brave it out with no sun protection which has been awful.  Last weekend, I did a little snow travel and it kinda sucked.  So, I'm thinking of solutions for how to deal.  A few options:

OTG (over the glasses) - probably the cheapest option, but is it any good?  It also looks pretty funky, not to mention getting killer headaches, to wear two pair of glasses. 

Transitions - I had a buddy do this and he really liked it.  But how do I go about getting a custom pair that actually fit my head.  My current frame dimensions are: 48/18/145

Two pairs - Many of my approaches and descents are done in darkness, so I'd need a transparent pair at least. 

Am I missing anything?  Any recommendations?  What are some recommended brands that I can try to contact?

wsperry · · San Jose/Lafayette · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 110

I do two pairs (regular prescription & sunglass prescription) and carry whichever ones I am not wearing in a backpack. I have definitely topped out in the dark in sunglasses without clears before and it sucked, but I figure that's part of having shitty vision. I have also done OTG but in that case, you are carrying two pairs anyway. 

Mike Womack · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 1,526

Thanks! Did you get your prescription sunglasses from the sunglasses company or did you have someone else do the lenses? just fill out the prescription form online?

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 12,363

I'm with "wsperry": tow pair: prescription sunglasses and regular glasses.   I've heard (but can't confirm" that "transition lenses" cut down on visible light, so your iris (?) contracts as normal, but doesn't cut down on UV & IR light thus increasing possibility of  snowblindness.  However, even regular glasses cut out most all UV, so I'm not sure this was a fact. However, if you want to use transition glasses, best to investigate. 

For really "bad" conditions, such as it's snowing near 32F, there's nothing like soft-lens contact lenses. When I was really gung-ho to ski & ice climb in any conditions. I'd change to these for really "bad" conditions. However, carry along a pair of reading glasses that counter-acts your prescription, so you can pop them on if you want to read a ski trail map, or fiddle getting out a small wire nut from a small crack!  


Albert Kernberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 165

I use a pair of prescription glasses with transition lenses. They are water clear when not exposed to UV light (inside or after dusk). I have an aviator lens shape and frameless style Sillouette frames (4 grams total weight). Unfortunately, I don't think the transition lenses are dark enough for glacier and snow travel, but for summertime rock climbing, they are fine. In fact, I love them. Given you need eye protection in snow, you should probably have a pair of true prescription sunglasses, probably glacier glasses like Jublo.

Regarding UV protection, you do not need sunglasses per se, you need a UV coating. I've had that on every pair of glasses I've owned, including my current transition lenses. I still wouldn't trust them for high intensity conditions though.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,120

I've been climbing and backcountry-skiing w two pairs for lots of years (because I just don't like contacts). My current sunglasses are "photochromatic" / self-adjusting to ambient lighting, but I don't consider that as a workable alternative to two pairs (one clear).

I didn't like Over the Glasses add-ons at all. (catching them on the rope? when following or top-roping?)

Long ago there were inside-Under-the-glasses darkeners. Used them for several years, but finally gave them up. I remember one factor was that they got stained and scratched easily. Another is that I sweat a lot, and an extra thing on the inside of my lenses reduced air flow.

So now very happy w carrying two pairs, having tested alternatives.

Maybe with newer contact lens designs I could now be happy with those, which would surely simplify things.

Ken

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 290

Been doing it for 43 years and never really thought twice about it...

Mike Womack · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 1,526

Thanks for all of your input.  It seems like two pairs is the way to go.  I think i'll get some julbo explorers

wsperry · · San Jose/Lafayette · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 110

I ordered some from SportRX.com and all i did was put in my prescription and they showed up 3 weeks later. 

Jake Laba · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 0

Had my optometrist make a pair of prescription costa del mar sunglasses and carry those and regular lenses when out. For winter spurts and awful weather my OTG ski goggles are perfect.

Dylan Pike · · SLC, UT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 35

I got a pair of prescription lenses in Wiley x frames from one of the big online vendors. I just entered my prescription in an online form and they showed up a couple weeks later.

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,610

So why not wear multi-day contacts. I wear 6 days (for as long as 8) on walls and alpine multi-day trips. Work great, just carry something like refresh tears for dryness.

And why pay ridiculous $$ for prescription glasses, shades or no.

Zenni glasses start at $7, ship fast and good return policy.

Just saying

Mike Womack · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 1,526
Muscrat wrote:

So why not wear multi-day contacts. I wear 6 days (for as long as 8) on walls and alpine multi-day trips. Work great, just carry something like refresh tears for dryness.

And why pay ridiculous $$ for prescription glasses, shades or no.

Zenni glasses start at $7, ship fast and good return policy.

Just saying

Are multi-day contacts any different than just normal contacts (acuvue 2 for example).  That is what I used to do and was in too much eye pain even with regularly using eye drops.  

Muscrat · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 3,610

completely different. I wear my dailies for up to 5 days, out at night in solution, with the tacit approval of my ophthalmologist.  (I wear Acuvue dailies). 

The 6 day lenses, designed specifically to be worn continuously for 6 days, and nights, are Air Optix Aqua. You need to be fitted for these. I love them, but they do cost a little more, hence, dirtbag that i am, i only use them when i need continuous use. But boy howdy it's nice to wake up in the middle of the night and be able to see!

And of course, YMMV!

Greg Shea · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 10

I've been trying to figure out this issue for many years now I've tried using contacts on month-long Expeditions I've done over glasses and that gets really really really painful on your ears when wearing beanies and helmets all day I finally found the solution it's not cheap but the last forever I just used it on Denali for a month this summer go to the company OPTICUS and get glacier glasses made prescription from them I cannot recommend using the McKinley lens enough their photochromatic like transitions and so get a little bit lighter than regular sunglasses but then go to the same Darkness as the highest category Glacier glasses they're perfect for Alaska that's where you'll be I never put on my glasses once and I was moving at 2 a.m.

Greg Shea · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 10

By the way the opticus lenses have UV protection

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

When I started mountaineering 10 years ago I didn't want to buy another pair of prescription sunglasses for high altitude glacier travel so I bit the bullet and just got laser eye surgery. Best decision ever! So much easier to manage glasses now. No contacts, etc. Sadly I'm now 40 and starting to get the slightest amount of near-sightedness so reading glasses may be on the horizon in 5 years or so...

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,135

I have been using http://opticus.com for 20+ years for Rx sunglasses. FWIW when I go on big trips I bring four pairs of glasses. May sound silly but only once have I ever lost a pair.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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