Learning to ride a bike is a right of passage and a pastime many of us enjoy for the rest of our lives. For some, that first set of training wheels evolves directly into the thin, tubular tires of a road bike.
Road biking is a passion, and if you’ve got the bug, you know there’s little chance of you missing a ride because of extreme temperatures or even inclement weather. Thankfully, you’ve got the gear you need to ensure your rides are not only enjoyable but safe.
However, if you aren’t wearing protective safety glasses while you ride, you’re leaving your vision to chance. Unlike that road rash that’s been healing for a few weeks, retinal cells don’t regenerate.
The team at Stoggles is as passionate about your eye safety as you are about your bike. We’ll help you understand the risks to your eyes when you ride and tell you what you need gear-wise to protect them.
You have the need for speed. We get it. But your eyeballs have needs too. Let’s chat about how you can both get what you need with the Tour de France of eyewear — Stoggles.
Threats to Cyclists: What To Know
Sun, wind, rain — you know the drill. No matter the conditions you’re riding. We get it. Your eyes, however, aren’t as understanding. By tearing, swelling, and developing some pretty gnarly conditions (that can cause you to miss a ride), they’ll let you know if you aren’t protecting them properly.
There are more risks to your eyes when you’re riding than you realize. Cyclists who aren’t wearing protective safety glasses are putting their eyes in harm’s way.
Here are the top six reasons riders bike into trouble:
1. Sun Exposure
Fun in the sun? Maybe. The sun is humanity’s ultimate frenemy: It gives us vitamin D and pretty sunsets, but it is also trying to kill us.
Both UVA and UVB rays have the capability of causing damage to your vision. Just like your skin, your eyes need protection.
Unlike your skin, the sun can also attack your eyes with…
- Cataracts. Usually something associated with age, researchers now believe that cataracts could be caused by direct exposure to UVB rays.
- Macular degeneration. The macula is located at the back of the eye and is responsible for fine, detailed vision. Normally, the protective structures in front of the macula protect it from UV rays. However, over time those structures (if not protected) can wear down, allowing UV rays to pass through to the macula and cause damage.
- Pterygium. Also known as Surfer’s Eye, this condition can also happen to bikers. It occurs when UV rays irritate the protective covering of the eye called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva becomes inflamed and grows improperly.
- Keratitis and photokeratitis. This is an actual sunburn of the cornea. Unlike your skin, the cornea burns differently. You can expect irritation, redness, pain, and a constant feeling of sand or grit in your eye if you develop this condition. Photokeratitis happens when the sun is reflected off of a surface like asphalt, water, sand, or snow.
- Skin cancer of the eyelid. It’s not just your eyeballs that get injured if you aren’t wearing protective glasses. The delicate skin of the eyelid can burn and develop skin cancers, just like the skin on your body.
Although it should go without saying, we’ll say it anyway: even if it isn’t sunny, you need UV protective glasses.
If you’re saying, “But my cycling sunglasses are tinted! I’ll never be able to see the open road in low light conditions with my dark shades.” We hear you, random biker; we hear you. That’s why we recommend you opt for polycarbonate frames and lenses. Polycarbonate lens technology offers UV protection in clear lenses, no tinting necessary.
The wind isn’t usually a rider’s best friend, especially when it’s head-on. Riding in echelon formation helps protect you from some of the power of the gusts, but when it’s your turn to pull, your eyes will suffer if they aren’t protected from that airflow.
Wind is most dangerous when combined with freezing temperatures. These cold temperatures can cause the moisture inside the eye to freeze, which can lead to corneal abrasions.
Wind exposure also causes excessive tearing. Cold wind can cause your tears to evaporate, and your tear ducts respond by making even more. Excessive tearing can make it impossible to see and is incredibly distracting, something you can’t afford when you’re cycling. Plus, the wind is full of irritating particles like pollen, dust, and more.
It’s not just the wind: If a bug hits your eye while you’re flying down a mountain at a cool 20 miles per, you now have a corneal abrasionand an embarrassing story of how you lost to a butterfly.
How fast you cycle is important not only to the Peloton but also to your eyes. The faster you cycle, the more dangerous insects and debris become. Novices usually start out around ten mph, fast enough to make a small pebble or bug painful if it strikes your eye.
More experienced cyclists can sustain a pace of 15 mph for an hour's ride, which can result in a more serious eye injury from debris strikes. Expert-level cyclists easily maintain 22-25 mph for long lengths of time. At this speed, debris becomes destructive. Blowouts to the orbital socket can happen even if you’re wearing riding glasses that aren’t impact-resistant.
4. Weather and Fogging
You’ve got the gear to keep you dry on a rainy ride, but how do your glasses hold up? Most cyclists will wear eye protection when it’s raining, but if yours continually fog, you’d probably rather risk tiny needle-like raindrops striking your eyeball.
However, if you look outside and don’t see a single cumulonimbus cloud in sight — your problems are far from over. In fact, fogging is worse on a sunny day. When it’s hot out, and you break a sweat, the fogging levels are accelerated, so you can’t even enjoy the cloudless sky (or see where you are going).
Fog in movies usually suggests something dangerous or spooky is about to happen. Well, art imitates life in this case: Fogging is dangerous.
Foggy conditions require you to remove your glasses and wipe them down, an inconvenient and often impossible task when you’re in the middle of a ride. Rainy weather increases your chance of having a cycling accident, and the combination of rain and fogging glasses can intensify the risk. Even if you have the best cycling glasses ever, if you don’t wear them in the fog, you run the risk of crashing in front of all your biking buddies or worse.
5. Dry Eyes
There’s a reason that the saying isnot “Dry Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.” And that’s because dry eyes are the woooorst.
There’s nothing worse than dealing with dry eyes at the end of a 30-mile ride. Typically, it happens when there’s low sun, and you opt out of wearing UV-blocking glasses. It can also occur if you’re cycling in hot, arid environments that wick away your natural tears.
Dry eyes might not seem like more than just an inconvenience, but without proper tearing, debris that enters your eyes has a chance to scratch your cornea and cause irritation that can take days or even weeks to heal. This can take you out of the game; say goodbye to that yellow jersey.
6. Allergens and Pollutants
Suffering from allergies is no joke, and your eyes can develop allergies just like your sinuses. Taking a ride in the spring when the weather is cooler may seem like a great idea. But, if you have allergies, whatever is blooming can send you into a headspin of tearing, irritation, itching, and scratching. Then, taking time to smell the roses is definitely off the table.
Some allergens are seasonal, but perennial allergens happen year-round. Irritants like smoke and pollution can trigger allergic conjunctivitis, a condition that makes your eyes watery, itchy, and irritated. This is especially difficult for city cyclists who are exposed to more of these types of year-round irritants more frequently.
With so many potential risks to your eyes, you owe it to yourself to protect your vision and invest in a solid pair of cycling glasses.
Glasses for Cycling: Must-Have Features
Cycling glasses need to meet certain requirements to protect your eyes from all hazards you encounter on a ride. Simply wearing your regular sunglasses or eyeglasses won’t cut it. Neither are designed to protect your eyes the way a pair of cycling safety glasses can.
Here’s a quick guide to the safety features you need in a pair of cycling glasses:
Side and Top Shields
Regular sunglasses or eyeglasses leave your eyes vulnerable in a few different places. At the top of the lens, there’s a gap between your eyebrow, and on the sides of the glasses, there’s little to no protection. These spaces can allow debris to enter and harm your eyes — so sneaky.
Side and top shields prevent debris, raindrops, and allergens from entering your eye area and injuring your eye. Make sure the side and top shields are made from impact-resistant material that doesn’t shatter or break. The only thing you need to break is your personal best, not your lenses.
While we’re talking about impact resistance, let’s talk about the gold standard. Glasses that are ANSI Z87.1-2020 certified are protective against both high mass and high-velocity impact, ensuring that your glasses won’t break when struck at high speeds or if struck with a weightier rock or other types of debris.
The ANSI certification is the safety industry standard, ensuring safety glasses' durability and impact resistance in numerous different industries.
You know you need UV protection, but you probably don’t consider it when it isn’t sunny. UV protection is essential anytime you are outdoors during the day. That’s why it’s vital that your safety glasses have UV protection without tinting for days when the sun is behind the clouds.
Stoggles, for instance, are made from lightweight, ultra-durable polycarbonate material, which is naturally UV blocking so that your field of vision is never compromised (except by all those cars getting in your way).
All cyclists need glasses that won’t fog. Fogging glasses are hazardous and cause serious accidents. Even if you use an anti-fog wipe on your glasses, it simply won’t stand up to the conditions on the road.
Stoggles are treated with an anti-fogging chemical that changes the surface tension of water vapor that collects on your glasses, which doesn’t allow them to fog. No matter how rainy, hot, or steamy it gets on your ride, you’ll never have to remove your glasses to wipe away the fog.
Style and Comfort
Of course, your glasses need to be comfortable, but we’d be lying if we said style didn’t matter. That’s why we created a hybrid form of eyewear that both protects your eyes and preserves your style.
Stoggles are designed to be supremely comfortable. Available in two different sizes, it’s easy to get the pair that fits you perfectly. With several different lens shapes and numerous color options, you can customize your glasses to fit your personality or even the rest of your bike gear.
Blue Light Blocking
The sun is the largest source of blue light, but most people choose blue light-blocking glasses to shield their eyes from the blue light emitted by their computers and smartphones.
The great benefit of Stoggles is that they easily transition from the road to your office and back again. Their streamlined design makes them lightweight, unobtrusive, and understated. The perfect solution for protecting your eyes from blue light both outdoors and in.
What About Corrective Lenses?
If you wear prescription lenses, you need safety eyewear that is available with your customized prescription. At Stoggles, we do that too. We handle your prescriptions in-house, providing you with the ultimate in stylish and protective eyewear without the hassle of going to a big box store and ordering a pricey pair of bulky safety glasses.
With our Rx options, you can still have everything on your checklist. Stoggles Rx eyewear comes with all the features you know and love: state-of-the-art anti-fog and blue light blocking tech.
Stoggles: Helmets for Your Eyes
Your vision depends on how well you protect your eyes. Even if you don’t sense a risk, cycling always poses a threat to your eye health. Wearing protective safety eyewear keeps your eyes safe and your ride stress-free. Whether you’re biking to Starbucks with your co-workers on mountain biking through the rugged backcountry, the answer should be as clear as your lenses. Trust Stoggles to protect your eyes in supreme style why you cycle.
Simply wearing sunglasses or eyeglasses isn’t the right solution; those glasses aren’t designed to hold up under the extreme conditions you face when cycling. Do what you love, and keep your eyes safe.
What Toll Is the Sun Taking on Your Eyes? | Keck Medicine of USC
Case Report: Eye injuries in the extreme environment ultra-marathon runner | PMC
Eye Allergies | Causes, Symptoms & Treatment | ACAAI Public Website
Pterygium (Surfer's Eye): Diagnosis, Symptoms & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic
Tour de France jerseys: Colors and meanings explained | SBNation.com
Small objects in the eye: Overview - InformedHealth.org | NCBI Bookshelf