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Gear Guy

Are there any cost-effective sport glasses for prescription wearers?

Help me sort out the confusing world of sports sunglasses! I've recently started biking to work every day, and I need a pair of prescription sunglasses that work for cycling and for casual wear. I'm thinking that sunglasses with interchangeable lenses (some for the trail, some for around town) are the way to go. Are there any cost-effective ways to do this for prescription wearers? And what's the deal with all these multi-colored lenses: what color lenses should I use for which conditions? Josh Boston, MA

A: You really can go nuts shopping for sunglasses for cycling and that sort of thing. Dozens of choices, and the prices can really set you back. I mean, $175 for a pair of sunglasses? Give me a break.

The Radial II Multi-lens system from Performance

Of course, you have the further challenge of requiring a prescription. It’s prohibitively expensive, of course, to buy sets of interchangeable prescription lenses. But some makers offer you the chance to buy one prescription lens set, then fit different tinted/clear lenses over the correcting lenses. Smith's popular Moab HP glasses (, for instance, are available with an "ocular docking station" for the prescription component. Price is $125, plus the prescription lenses. Performance, meanwhile, sells its popular Radial II Multi-lens system with a snap-in RX adapter ($65 for glasses and adapter).

Both the Smith and Performance glasses come with three lenses. As a general rule, dark brown or gray lenses are used during on bright days, as they offer the best light blockage. I prefer yellow lenses on rainy/cloudy days or when trail-riding during daylight hours. Yellow lenses brighten things up – until it hits dusk or nightfall, at which time they still do block some light so darken things quickly. That's the time for clear lenses, although those also work well on cloudy days.

With prescription inserts and the right lens, you’ll always see clearly.

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Lead Photo: courtesy, Performance Bicycles