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9.8 Contact Lenses and Cycling


This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.

9.8 Contact Lenses and Cycling

From: Robert A. Novy <ra_novy@drl.mobil.com>

I received on the order of 50 replies to my general query about contact lenses
and bicycling. Thank you! To summarize, I have been wearing glasses for
nearly all of my 28 years, and taking up bicycling has at last made me weary of

I visited an optometrist last week, and he confirmed what I had lightly feared:
I am farsighted with some astigmatism, so gas-permeable hard lenses are the
ticket. He has had about a 25% success rate with soft lenses in cases such as
mine. I am now acclimating my eyes to the lenses, adding one hour of wear per
day. In case these don't work out, I'll try two options. First, bicycle
without prescription lenses (my sight is nearly 20-20 without any). Second,
get a pair of prescription sport glasses.

I had a particular request for a summary, and this is likely a topic of great
interest, so here goes. Please recognize the pruning that I must do to draw
generalizations from many opinions. Some minority views might be overlooked.
There is one nearly unanimous point: contact lenses are much more convenient
than eyeglasses. I had to add the word "nearly" because I just saw one voice
of dissent. Sandy A. (sandya@hpfcmdd.fc.hp.com) has found that prescription
glasses are better suited to mountain biking on dusty trails.

You can call me Doctor, but I have no medical degree. This is only friendly
advice from a relatively ignorant user of the Internet. See the first point


Get a reputable optometrist or ophthalmologist. Your eyes are precious.
[Paul Taira (pault@hpspd.spd.hp.com) even has an iterative check-and-balance
setup between his ophthalmologist and a contact lens professional.]

Wear sunglasses, preferably wrap-arounds, to keep debris out of eyes, to
keep them from tearing or drying out, and to shield them from ultraviolet rays,
which might or might NOT be on the rise.

Contacts are not more hazardous than glasses in accidents.

Contacts improve peripheral and low-light vision.

Extended-wear soft lenses are usually the best. Next come regular soft
lenses and then gas-permeable hard lenses. Of course, there are dissenting
opinions here. I'm glad to see that some people report success with gas perms.

One's prescription can limit the types of lenses available. And soft lenses
for correcting astigmatisms seem pesky, for they tend to rotate and thus
defocus the image. This is true even for the new type that are weighted to
help prevent this. Seems that near-sighted people have the most choices.

If one type or brand of lens gives discomfort, try another. Don't suffer
with it, and don't give up on contact lenses altogether.


Some lenses will tend to blow off the eye. Soft lenses are apparently the
least susceptible to this problem.


Consider disposable lenses. They may well be worth it.

Carry a tiny bottle of eye/lens reconditioner and a pair of eyeglasses just
in case.


From David Elfstrom (david.elfstrom@canrem.com):
Hamano and Ruben, _Contact Lenses_, Prentice-Hall Canada, 1985, ISBN
I haven't laid hands on it, but it sounds relevant.


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