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Tell us about your eyewear choices

I ask because I have terrible eyesight and I'm a slave to the lens. I would LASIK yesterday but way too much astigmatism for that to be safe, and not old enough yet for an eye surgeon to slip in a lens without having to come back and redo it.

I used to carry my glasses, my backup glasses, some contact lenses, regular sunglasses.

But I didn't use the contacts much, so evolved to traveling with my regular prescription progressives and non-progressive prescription Transitions as my sunglasses.

But now I am going to pivot away from this arrangement. Reason being that while I like my Transitions, indoors they never get absolutely truly as clear as my regular glasses, and when I have to wear them indoors, I feel like I am gradually going insane because everything is just a hair dimmer than it should be. If I lost or broke my primary glasses I would be well bummed out to have to do a month with just the Transitions.

So my plan for this next trip:

I have two identical pairs of my prescription progressives. And right now I'm searching for reasonably good looking clip on sunglasses to fit them. Ideally I'd like one pair of clip-ons in a lighter brown amber, the other in it darker gray polarized lens.

My clip-on hunt has been mildly complicated by the fact that I will ride a bike for weeks with the clip-ons, and so I need the four point attachment, not the ones that just clip above the bridge. Wind etc ... My retailer, Warby Parker, actually does make spring clip-ons custom to my particular frame, but they are $65, so I'm going to ferret about on Amazon for a while before I give in to bespoke clip ons.

I think it will work well my new setup, but then again, that's what I always think. So we shall see 🙂

How about you, travelers whose eyes and the world are not necessarily on the same page? What do you bring in the eyewear department, and how has that been working for you?

As long as I don't lose both pairs of my glasses, I will be able to read your responses

Posted by
1320 posts

I wear my prescription eyeglasses at all times and bring a pair of prescription sunglasses. I also bring a second pair of prescription eyeglasses in case something happens to my regular glasses. It's worked well for me.

Posted by
2523 posts

I still wear contacts most days, but can see a day in the near future where I will switch to only glasses. Not interested in any version of eye surgery.

I have a number of pairs of glasses, all with Progressive and Transitions, that I buy at Zenni adds a made to fit clip on for $4 more.
I haven't really had an issue with slow lightening inside, though.

Posted by
2523 posts

After reading your post again, I suggest just spending the $65 for the custom clip on. I usually regret wasting time and money not getting the right thing in the beginning.

Posted by
5136 posts

I wear my progressive lenses that came with a clip on that has a very strong grip. I also carry a back up pair of progressives. And for good measure, a copy of the lens prescription. Knock on wood, I've never lost or broken a pair of glasses yet.

Posted by
11512 posts

How old are your Transitions? Never encountered anyone with the 'too dark inside' issue.

I found ebay a good source for clip-ons . Last Fall found a 3 pack for less than what CVS wanted for a single ( Solar Shield polarized)

We use Costco for rx glasses.

Posted by
613 posts

I bring:

Prescription progressive glasses

Nonprescription Cocoons Slimline fitover polarized sunglasses

Spare pair of progressives as backup

And a copy of my current prescription

Posted by
15702 posts


Backup Glasses

Inexpensive clip ons.

I've lost too many prescription sunglasses so I stick with the clip ons.

Posted by
1259 posts

Solar Shields come in different shapes, sizes and colors. The bridge is spring-loaded and it securely grips the frame with four hooks on the side of each lens. I have used them for all sorts of activities including biking before I purchased transitions. They are sold by Amazon. However, I would suggest that it would be better if you could find a local pharmacy that stocks them so that you can try them on your particular eyeglass frames.

Eyewear is almost as much of a pain in the ass with travel packing as electronics.

At times, I have packed prescription glasses with transition and progressive lenses, spare prescription glasses, contact lenses, contact lens case, contact lens solution, sunglasses for when I'm wearing contact lenses, swim goggles when I'm swimming with contact lenses. Foldable reading glasses for when I'm reading with contact lenses (I have old eyes).

On my last trip to Spain, I just wore my (transitions/progressive) eyeglasses and packed a spare pair. But if there is a chance to go swimming or snorkeling, it is better to also have the contacts.

Posted by
11368 posts

I have prescription eyeglasses and non- prescription sunglasses that fit over the eyeglasses, held on with magnets. They work very well.

Posted by
27427 posts

I don't like transitional lenses; I don't think they're quite as dark as regular sunglasses, and I am prone to sunlight-induced headaches.

Despite being over 70 and having had cataract surgery with corrective lenses implanted, my eyeglass prescription still changes every year. As a result, I always have access to old-but-recent glasses I can take to Europe as my backups. I travel with two pairs of regular glasses and two pairs of sunglasses, all progressives. The exception was my first trip post-surgery, when my previous glasses would have been totally useless. On that trip I traveled with crossed fingers and a pair of regular glasses for distance only; I'd had to buy the latter for a driving trip right after the surgery when I didn't have time to wait for progressives. I also tossed in a pair of clip-on sunglasses--not the right size or shape, but they'd have been better than nothing.

I haven't lost a pair of glasses since I was about 10, but I've fallen twice during European trips and bent the frames of my glasses enough that I had to look for an optician.

Posted by
1912 posts

Zenni adds a made to fit clip on for $4 more

Wow that is awesome! I know you say bite the bullet and spring for the $65 official clip-ons from Warby Parker - and you are probably right - but so pricey. Maybe I'll offer 4 bucks and see what WB say ;) (take a hike I'm sure, without sunglasses).

How old are your Transitions? Never encountered anyone with the 'too
dark inside' issue.

Less than 2 years Joe Cool. They get really close to clear, but as far I've been told by opticians, no Transitions ever get all the way as clear as regular glasses. Most people don't notice, but inside it drives me batty.

Now regarding sunglasses that go over prescription glasses - I would totally use those no question. I mean in Europe you mostly can't understand all the jokes about you looking like you are 105 years old ;). But my glasses are too tall and they never fit. But if I had smaller glasses would go for it.

Posted by
1912 posts

As many have indicated, I too always have a copy of my prescription accessible. But then I wonder how long it would take to make my high index prescription. Anybody every needed emergency new glasses made on a Europe trip?

Posted by
2632 posts

I wear contacts, and bring a spare pair, along with my prescription glasses, and 2 pairs of those drugstore cheater glasses--one in my purse and the other as back-up that stays in the hotel room. When I eventually switch to just eyeglasses I will bring 2 pairs of them plus prescription sunglasses, and a copy of my prescription.

Posted by
613 posts

As many have indicated, I too always have a copy of my prescription accessible. But then I wonder how long it would take to make my high index prescription. Anybody every needed emergency new glasses made on a Europe trip?

No, and I hope you and I never need to find out :-)

Posted by
7650 posts

After years of glasses, then hard lenses, then gas-permeable hard lenses, then soft lenses when scarring caused by the original hard lenses that weren’t properly fitted caused problems, I was eventually a candidate for cataract surgery. Ive now lost the super-close up vision that my super nearsightedness afforded, and wear Transitions progressive lenses fill-time, as I need them for reading any print. Funny, even with 20/20 vision now, I can’t really read without glasses!

The Transitions do have a peculiar amber tint to them, even in low indoor light. I just turn up the lights in the house. They do get extremely dark outside, and sometimes I have to wait a while after going indoors for them to lighten, or take off my glasses and carry those around for a while and try to not drop them.

Fancy bicycling shades mostly sit on the shelf now, as they’re worthless for trying to read the computer on the handlebars, or a map, or anything on the smartphone. But, full-time progressive wrap-around sunglasses from Wiley-X that I got last year for bicycling and XC skiing are outstanding. The wrap-around design protects from wind and rain or snow, with foam to seal against skin. The lenses are super-impact protective; they sell some models designed for target shooters, and other extreme sports besides biking or screaming downhill.

Posted by
7650 posts

Anybody every needed emergency new glasses made on a Europe trip?

No, thankfully, but my frames that I got in France, not found anywhere in the USA, and for which I’ve received countless compliments, were a treasured find while traveling. I’ve had them for years, getting lenses replaced at home. The last time, the lab thought they’d lost the frames, and that was going to be a problem.

In Italy last year, I looked in many cities and many shops for something new. The predominant heavy frames, and the cat-eye designs, weren’t appealing, and were extremely expensive, as well. In Ireland last month, frames were very pricey again, but I found a perfect frame at a shop on Ennis, and will be getting lenses in them soon. Europe has been a good place for frames.

Posted by
3262 posts

I can't go outside without sunglasses on, so I always bring two pairs. One read the menu at outdoor cafes and one just distance. I also bring a regular pair of bifocals. I dislike transition and progressive glasses as the transition just are not dark enough for my eyes outdoors and the progressives only provided a pinhole to read, and I am a reading addict. I could even be convinced to bring a third pair of sunglasses...but haven't yet. I did once have a fall in London, which smashed my glasses. Fortunately, I had a second pair.

If I lost all my glasses, I'd survive and get home. Knowing this, if I were desperate from repeated eyeglass catastrophes, I could get by with store bought good sunglasses. That being said...reading would be a problem...sigh. I do carry an eyeglass prescription with me, but what good it would do I have no idea.

Posted by
4936 posts

I used to bring eyeglasses as a backup to my contact lenses. Now my contacts are backup to my glasses with transition lenses.

Since I'd be wearing sunglasses anyway, it saves me carrying a pair in my day purse.

Posted by
8649 posts

My eyesight isn't bad enough I'd be helpless without glasses, but I do like to bring an old pair as backup if I lose my current ones. And I too normally have a copy of my current (valid) prescription on paper in my wallet in case I need to replace a pair. Although I have never tried to get a pair overseas, I assume they have places that can make them quickly. Anyone have experience with that?

Posted by
785 posts

I wear progressive transitions and have no problem with them indoors. I bring my previous pair as backups. Hoping for cataract surgery soon but expect I’ll still need glasses for reading.

Posted by
8877 posts

1 pair prescription glasses
1 pair of prescription sunglasses
3 pair 99 cent store reading glasses.

Use Chums to secure them and honestly my vision without the prescription pairs isn’t that bad.

LOL reading this post reminds me its time for my annual eye test!!

EDIT: I also upload my eye glass prescription as well as having a paper copy.

Posted by
4174 posts

I've been wearing progressive lens glasses since I first started to need bifocals, so that's about 35 years now. At first I got a pair of progressive sunglasses, but they were way too dark, even if it was sunny. I was living under the great gray dome near Seattle, so I didn’t use them enough to get another pair when my prescription changed.

It wasn't too much later that transitions became available. Preferring to have everything in one lens, I tried those and I've never gone back. At first it seemed like the transitions took forever to lighten up inside buildings, but they've improved dramatically over the years, so that doesn't happen anymore. I like the way they adjust when I wear a hat -- not too dark, not too light -- and I always wear a hat down here near Tucson.

Our eye insurance coverage actually makes getting an entirely new pair of glasses each year very cheap. I get the "best" progressives possible. My transitions are either gray or brown, depending on the frames. For me, the glasses are one of the few fashion statements I make, but I have way more frames than I need and it's about time to cull my collection. Being Ray-Ban obsessed, those will likely stay so long as my changing prescriptions can be put in them.

About the polarized clip-on option. My husband has two pairs of race car driving glasses. This may not be relevant to clip-ons, but one year he got polarized lenses for one of them and the first day on the track he realized that it was a big mistake. They made the colors of the cars oscillate so dramatically that he couldn't tell who was coming up on him or how fast they were coming. As soon as he got home that year he had those lenses replaced with the normal driving orange color.

I know two people who've had cataract surgery. Both have had to continue to wear reading glasses. One chose to get one pair of progressives to accommodate that. One has multiple pairs of store bought readers around the house because he forgets that he needs them for many household tasks.

About testing for eye issues. We've been getting our eyes Optomapped for years. There are lots of pros and cons about digital scanning vs. dilation. I hate dilation, partly because it's not something I can go have done on my own. Insurance doesn’t cover the $39 cost for Optomapping, but we think it's well worth the price. One reason is that there's a record of how our eyes have changed over time.

Now, to finally answer your questions. On any trip, I always take the glasses with my most recent prescription (along with a copy of that prescription) and the pair from the year before. I'd be in a world of hurt if I ever lost both of them. 🤓

Posted by
53 posts

Has anyone had a multivocal IOL implanted after cataract surgery?

Posted by
1912 posts

Cyn! You anticipated me here:

Fancy bicycling shades mostly sit on the shelf now, as they’re
worthless for trying to read the computer on the handlebars, or a map,
or anything on the smartphone.

Maybe my most major reason for getting another pair of regular progressive glasses, and opting for clip-ons is that I can't read my darn Garmin bike computer anymore without progressives.

As much as I would like to still use contacts and non-progressive glasses, I just can't read the things well enough, and particularly my Garmin - it's almost a safety thing being able to quickly and easily see your bike computer. I feel like if I squinted it for too long I'm going to run into a bus ...

Posted by
1259 posts

The tint of my 4 year old transition lenses is barely noticeable inside. My only pet peeve is that when driving a car, they do not darken unless I am in a convertible. The windshield cuts out the UV and prevents the lens from darkening. I have the brown version and I also noticed that they are also affected by temperature, darker on cold days and less so on hot days.

Transitions has come out with a new version called XTRActive. They are extra dark compared to the older version, will darken while driving in a car and are less affected by warm temps.

Posted by
4304 posts

You found clip-ons for only $65?!?! Mine cost $120, but they are custom made for my frame. I don't like wearing my contacts for more than an hour at a time so I don't bother bringing them even as an emergency backup. Once I get a new pair of glasses I delegate my previous pair and their clip-ons as my backup and bring them with me. I've never had to use the backups though.

Posted by
1912 posts

You found clip-ons for only $65?!?! Mine cost $120, but they are
custom made for my frame.

$65 is a bargain? I was unaware - maybe I should buy two then :)

Posted by
2744 posts

I take my prescription glasses and sunglasses (both with progressive lenses) plus my contacts. Since my contacts are mono vision, I don’t need reading glasses. I thought that provided enough backup, but I’m starting to think maybe I should bring backup glasses (an old pair). I have never broken or lost my glasses, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the future. One trip all the disinfecting solution ran out of the bottle in transit (I guess I didn’t tighten the cap enough), so I was unable to wear my contacts the whole trip. (Didn’t want to take a chance on getting the wrong solution in another country.) Now I take daily lenses on my trips so I don’t need to bring any solution.

Being extremely nearsighted, I could never survive without my glasses or contacts.

Posted by
1912 posts

One trip all the disinfecting solution ran out of the bottle in
transit (I guess I didn’t tighten the cap enough), so I was unable to
wear my contacts the whole trip. (Didn’t want to take a chance on
getting the wrong solution in another country.) Now I take daily
lenses on my trips so I don’t need to bring any solution.

My contacts are too expensive for single wear unfortunately. Carrying the contact solution is a pox! Heavy and can leak. I'd rather skip contacts all together and just be half blind when I go swimming etc.

Posted by
16 posts

2 pair of Zenni Progressives + 2 polarized clip-ons - Solar Shield - from Walmart. I have prescription sunglasses, but I find it easier to use clip-ons than to switch glasses entirely, plus I can carry a smaller purse. The bridge spring design of the Solar Shields lets me take them off and on one-handed.

Posted by
605 posts

I'm with Shelley…Solar Shields from Walmart. Inexpensive and easy to use. They come in different sizes and shapes; just go in with your glasses and find the fit you need.

Posted by
2394 posts

I just returned from a trip. I brought:

Progressive transition lenses - no problem with them being too dark inside. My problem is they don’t get dark ENOUGH outside.

Prescription sunglasses (not progressive).

Extra pair of regular prescription glasses.

Posted by
4350 posts
  • Contacts
  • Back up pair of contacts
  • Glasses for when I am not wearing contacts (except for that time I forgot to pack them)
  • Reading glasses for when I am wearing contacts
  • Cheap sunglasses depending on the trip destination. One trip I dropped them in the water at Vrelo Bune and bought replacement at Primosten.

Not much help for your particular needs…..

Contact solution: I have bought this in Budapest, Corfu, Krakow, and Dresden. My eyes don’t seem to be terribly picky.

Posted by
83 posts

I wear progressive lens glasses and because they are so expensive, I have always worn and traveled with a pair of Cocoons "fit-over" type sunglasses. They are not fashionable, but they're polarized and cheap enough. It means I don't have to spend more money when my Rx changes to get another pair of Rx sunglasses. Learned that lesson twenty years ago.