Replacement prescription lenses - any advice?

I have a pair of Rapha Classic sunglasses that I’d like to get prescription lenses for - Tested: Rapha Cycling Sunglasses | Bicycling

I’m new to prescription lenses and I’m curious if there are any particular services people have had good experience with or if I’d be best off going to my optometrist.

Generally speaking, I lean toward higher quality options. A couple of sites have priced lenses in the $200-300 range for polarized trivex. Then there’s coatings…a few options make sense but after a while it starts to feel like a racket.

I am in uk. I took advice of my optometrist who is also a cyclist. I have an Oakley frame with prescription, anti fog, transition lenses which go from light to dark very quickly. Thus is important if you go from bright sun to dark shade from trees.
The cost was around £400 and they are worth every penny. So light to wear and don’t move around.
When wearing my non cycling glasses I was stung by a bee which got under my glasses. The Oakley fit closely to your face and nothing will get inside.
I think with lenses the quality is reflected in the price.

I bought the “Hydrotac” lenses (someone advised on here of them).

Not fitted them yet, but I plan on fitting only 1 of them to my cycling sunglasses so I can read my Garmin, and the other one to my holiday sunglasses (so I can read full stop.)

My optician said it was quite normal to have two different lenses.

@Jean12 My friend got a wasp in the vent of his helmet :rofl: oooch!

First of all, not all frames can take prescription lenses. The Rapha frame might, but it might be limited in terms of the strength of the prescription lenses.

And secondly, prepare to spend some money. The exact cost will differ, but a good set of glasses suitable for cycling will set you back several hundred of whatever your local currency is. Usually the lenses will cost more than the frame, sometimes significantly more. In my case I paid about $200–$250 for the frame and $800 for the lenses. That’s the most I have ever paid for glasses, and they are worth every ¥.

Here are a few considerations I find important:

  • Yes, there is a huge markup with frames and the like. Most frames are fashion items and priced as such. Lenses, likewise, are very expensive, too. If you need glasses, you need to pony up the cash.
  • If you can, go to an optician that caters to athletes. We have one where I live. E. g. my cycling glasses are useless for reading, but much better than my regular glasses when looking at faraway objects. Makes sense. But your optician needs to be aware of this.
  • Some cycling glasses have clip-in lenses. On paper this seems like a great solution: you can use all the (relatively cheap) non-corrective lenses with color filters, etc. However, I’d stay away from those: you want an as wide a field of view covered by the corrective lenses as possible. And with clip-on lenses that area is necessarily very small.
  • A large field of view is super important to stay alive: if you are road riding this is how you gauge presence, distance and speed of oncoming cars, parked cars moving suddenly, etc. On a mountain bike it is equally important so that you can scan far ahead and then look at what is going on right in front of view.
  • So what you want is as wide a field of view as possible. In many cycling glasses that means you need aspherical lenses. The Raphas seem narrow enough that you don’t. But cycling-specific glasses are often wider than that and the benefit is clear and obvious (to me).
  • Now you need to figure out tint, coloring, etc. I opted for neutral photochromic lenses, i. e. lenses that change the tint according to the ambient light. They aren’t as dark as sun glasses, yes, but I can wear mine in the dark and during a bright summer day without going blind. If you e. g. only ride during daytime off road you can go for lenses with a more narrow focus (no pun intended), e. g. permanently tinted lenses. Only extremely rarely do I have some issues with my photochromic tinting, e. g. when I am riding outdoors and enter a dark tunnel. It takes about 10–15 seconds for the lenses to turn clear. Similarly, if you are entering a forest on your mountain bike, you could run into similar problems.
  • If you need stronger prescription glasses, you might have some limitations because of lens thickness. Due to the size of my glasses, one side is ridiculously thick. I jokingly call that side bulletproof since my lenses are made out of the same basic material.
  • Good lenses also protect your eyes against foreign objects. This isn’t an issue with most lenses, just make sure your optician knows about it, there are specialty lenses optimized for sports.

@mattkime you will need to drop in the local optometrist to see if they can put prescription Sun lenses in the Rapha frames. Don’t go the online route.

PHOTOCHROMIC will not usually be available with tinting options (rose, blue, etc…).

Roka prescription options are quite nice, bottom of the page are the (4) cycling specific frames. I opted to keep my sunnies standard for a while longer and have (2) pairs of Hunters in Photochromic for daily prescription in progressive lenses. This year I’ll snag a pair of the GP in a straight script for distance.

I disagree. I have Rudy project frames with clip in corrective lenses. (-4.75 rx) You do need a large field of view but you don’t need it all in focus. What you see on the sides isn’t in focus anyway when you look ahead so you’re only really noticing movement anyway from the sides.

Also there is distortion from the prescription if the lense wraps around which is worse the stronger your Rx is which is why some frames have Rx limits

Lenses that get darker in light is very useful as you can’t just take them off when they are too dark

I’ve heard these can be good but never used them:

The stronger your prescription the greater difference generic made lenses have with better made ones. (Distortion, chromatic aboration, …)


I’d like the things in my peripheral vision in focus, too, and is something I use all the time on the road when I check for traffic by peeking in between arm and torso on my road bike or above my shoulder on my mountain bike. On the road especially, that’s one of my life insurances.

That’s why lenses have to be aspherical when the glasses are wrap around your head, which makes them more expensive. I’ve had two pairs of glasses — one regular and my current cycling glasses — with aspherical lenses and didn’t notice a lot of distortion. I found wearing my first pair to be an eye opening experience. It is true that this limits your prescription strength, my cycling glasses are right at the limit (-4.5, I think). But not that much for the other frame, which was a “frameless frame” (i. e. it had holes in the lenses that the temples and nose bridge attached to).

Not to argue, but I had Roka do two pair of glasses for me and the lenses were terrible. Huge difference from my local high end shop. Same prescription.

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That is generally true if you look at the major lens manufacturers (e. g. Hoya and Nikon here in Japan), but you can have more choice with some more niche lens manufacturers. I could have had three tints (orange-goldish, green and brown, I think) in addition to gray. If you are set on a tint, you gotta ask around.

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A few places in the UK, offer the kind of service you are after. Just had a 9 year old pair of cycling glasses redone with latest prescription. Service was great and had glasses back within a week. Sure there must be similar in USA.

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Great point! My non-script sunnies have held up and are like new, but my Hunter lenses not so much. They botched the frames for the clear, so I was sent a free pair in black. The lenses on both have not held up anywhere near the level of my local Optometrist despite going for the beat coatings and such that Roka offered. I wash with soap and water daily by hand and only use the provided lens cloth too and after a year they are in worse shape than other lenses have been at 2 when I go in for a new script.

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Has anyone found cycling/sport glasses that work with high prescription power greater than -10? Everything I’ve looked at doesn’t work for high power prescriptions since a strong prescription doesn’t work with too much curvature/sweep.

Lensable had the best offering for mail-in . They all seem to use the same lab on the backend, so I wouldn’t sweat the exact vendor. The coatings are all exactly the same.

If you want something in particular, I’d worry about the vendor (for example, most places won’t let you spec lenses darker than 80% rather than 90% or lens/mirror combos). They do this just to make the order engine on the website easier. SportRX dumbed down their options, but they still have the best orderform.

Trivex vs Poly - doesn’t really matter in terms of practical safety on the bike and the clarity is the same.

If these are just for the bike and not the car… and you ride pre-dawn / post dusk - Transitions xtractive mirrors are worth it.

where did you get that?

I’ve had Rudy Projects and Smiths with clip on corrective lenses. I’ll give you another reason not to go this route, fog in warmer months. It’s bad enough with my single lens Rx.

So far my favorite Rx riding glasses are Smith’s with direct fit Rx lenses, I have two sets of clear glasses and one set of sunglasses. I forget the frame model but they’re amazing.

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What I do. is use my glasses that my insurance covers every other year for sunglasses and the other year get my regular glasses