Tri Optometry Tips

Triathlon Tips for Those Who Wear Glasses

Our thanks to OTC member, and certified Optometrist, Dr. Shawn Charland for producing this guide.

Finally outdoor training time is upon us! Let me share a few tips that will help you get the best protection and clearest vision out of your eyes during this multisport season.


Obviously, the first priority is having goggles that are leak proof. If you are doing a lot of open water swims, UV protective goggles are also a good idea. For people who normally wear glasses, consider having prescription goggles made. They are relatively inexpensive and even if they don't correct your vision perfectly, for many of us they are better than nothing.

For contact lens wearers, it is recommended that you either avoid contacts when swimming or wear daily disposable lenses. Very small parasites that live in pool water, lakes, or rivers can actually embed themselves in your contact lenses even though they can't stick to a naked eye. Wearing these lenses again, even after proper cleaning and storage creates a risk of the parasites entering the eye. The beauty of a daily disposable lens is that it is discarded right after your swim making infection impossible. These infections are potentially devastating, so it's better to avoid the risk altogether.

Cycling and Running:

Ultraviolet light exposure is a leading cause of macular degeneration and premature cataracts. If you don't bike or run with good UV protective sunglasses, you should get in the habit of doing so. A single well fit sunglass is suitable for both cycling and running.

Sunglasses do not have to be fancy or expensive to have UV protection. The label on the sunglasses should say something like: "100% UVA and UVB" or "UV 400." Since goods can be counterfeited and labels faked, you should still bring the sunglasses to your optometrist. They can use their onsite equipment to verify UV protection.

Beyond UV protection, there are many additional options available on lenses to greatly improve vision. If you want your glasses prescription in your sunglass, consider the newer "High Definition" or "Digital" lenses that are much more personalized and even take your facial curvature into account. Polarized lenses reduce glare dramatically, especially on water, steaming roads, or snow for you cross country skiers. Certain tints on lenses can enhance your sight in certain light conditions and some frames now come with interchangeable lenses to allow you to switch on the fly. Impact resistant lenses are highly recommended and will be well appreciated if you ever crash your bike.

Finally, your sunglasses should provide good comfort, stability, and light blockage despite the jarring motion of running. Here is where the frame fit is of huge importance. We all have faces that are different sizes and shapes. Your optician should be able to suggest different frame options that are suitable for your face and, if necessary, your prescription. For the best advice, speak to a licensed optician with experience dispensing sports eyewear, not the salesperson at the mall.
I hope this information helps.

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