Yes, Cool-Looking Prescription Running Sunglasses Exist, And They’ve Changed My Life

My pair of Nike Fleet prescription sunglasses.Kit Fox

The bear jumped out at me at the crest of a forested hill. I was running on the righthand side next to a few of my regular training buddies, about two miles in to a scenic loop on soft singletrack. I knew the beast must be big when the underbrush started rustling and I felt a gush a wind next to my calf. Was the thing swiping at me? I jumped to my left. I may have shrieked.

Except, it wasn’t a bear. It was a squirrel. Something I probably would have known immediately had I been wearing glasses.

I’ve worn glasses since the age of two—big, thick ones. The kind that you get made fun of for on the playground. The kind, now, that friends ask to try on so they can gasp and ask, “How blind are you?”

I am not legally blind. But I did have to get an eye doctor to sign a form for the DMV to get a driver’s license. Without corrective lenses, the world blurs—text becomes a smudge, squirrels become bears.

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The only times I don’t wear glasses are when I sleep, and, when I run.

I hate running with glasses. The nose pads chafe, the frames jangle out of position, sweat streaks down the lenses every four seconds causing me to take the pair off and try to clean them with an already-damp dry-fit shirt. Of course, that only makes everything worse as the grease just forms a nasty film making me blind anyway. I repeat this cycle every quarter-mile or so. It’s infuriating.

So I gave up glasses during runs in high school. For ten years I survived on the shoulders of busy roads and rocky single track trails without much of a hitch. That’s not to say there were no problems. More than twice, I’ve smacked straight into a road sign. Once, I couldn’t see a curb and badly sprained my ankle. I had to limp home nearly two miles.

Frequently, my training partners (and worried parents) ask why I never invested in a pari of prescription “sport glasses.” I had some as a kid—the ones with an elastic band and clear plastic lenses that scream “NERD.” This is what I looked like.

I was not in any rush to go back.

The ever-present threat of injury just never outweighed the annoyance (and my preconceived notion of what prescription sport glasses look like). It’s a miracle nothing worse has happened on my runs.

That’s essentially what the CEO of Sport RX, Dan Bruton, told me over the phone recently. He asked to see my prescription. When he pulled up the file I could hear him gasp. “Wait, so you don’t run with glasses?” he asked. “You really need to run with glasses.”

I told him why I gave up the specs years ago—how they rub the skin off my nose and smear with sweat. He told me that the problem wasn’t glasses. It was finding the right glasses.

Sport RX will help you find the right glasses. The company abolished my “rec specs” bias. I learned that I don’t need specialized (and frankly, universally ugly) frames. The company sources genuine, high-quality frames from companies like Nike, Oakley, and Ray Ban. They then outfit the model with the proper prescription. They also offer options for dozens of sports and activities: from cycling, to running, to fishing, to even ski goggles.

You are able to call a real live Optician to guide you through the process of finding the right pair. In my case, I needed a sturdier frame to handle the thickness of the lens my poor eyes require. I settled on the Nike Fleet frame with a rose-tinted lens. I am not over exaggerating when I say they have changed my life.

In the past several years, a series of videos have gone viral showing young children seeing or hearing for the first time because of some new scientific device. They almost always make me well up.

I am not going to say that my first run with my brand new prescription sunglasses was that emotional. But it was close. My God, running is a whole different experience when you can sharply see road signs and curbs and squirrels.

The frames are light, and perfectly contoured to settle on my nose without moving. While sweat still drips on the lenses, they are much easier to clean—designed to not smudge.

Plus, they just look really damn cool. Unless you put them on yourself, you’d never be able to tell that they have a roughly half-inch thick lens with a progressive bifocal. I am now, fully, a prescription sunglasses convert.

Which is good. Because if there is actually a bear on my next run, I will see it in full prescription-aided detail.

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