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Running With (Prescription) Glasses: Yes Or No?

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If you wear prescription glasses, you may find yourself wondering if you should wear them to run or if you should leave them behind. The honest answer behind the questions is that it really depends on a lot of factors. Some things you need to ask yourself while you make that decision:

  • How well do you see without your prescription glasses?
  • Do you need to wear your glasses for safety reasons?
  • Are you comfortable while wearing them?
  • Do you need them specifically for certain occasions, situations and/or weather?
  • Do you sweat badly and find your glasses slipping down your nose?
  • Do you experience fogging when wearing your glasses?
  • Is it difficult for you to see in rain and snow if you have your glasses on?
  • Have you tried contact lenses?

Just Leave ‘Em Home!

Some athletes wear glasses for day-to-day tasks but find that they can perform just fine without them while running. People who fall into this category may need glasses for some physical activities that require hand and eye coordination such as softball, or want them for a sport like golf so they can see where their ball has flown and is going to land.

These people do not typically wear their glasses for running for various reasons. Everything from not wanting to worry about slippage and fogging to simply not needing them for the activity is cited by athletes.

Runner Melody Olson
Melody Olson

Runner Melody Olson usually wears her glasses to run. 

Can You Run With Glasses On?

Of course, you can run with glasses on! There are some difficulties people sometimes experience when running while wearing glasses, however. Let’s talk about those.

Your glasses may slip out of place when you run or do other exercises. This is particularly likely to happen if you are sweating.

Jeff Hettrick
Jeff Hettrick

Runner Jeff Hettrick, “I wear glasses all the time, and 99% of the time I wear glasses when I run. I’m fortunate enough that my vision isn’t terribly bad, so I can run without glasses without too much issue. I often end up ditching my glasses on misty/rainy days, or when they get fogged up for some reason. Those times I just take my glasses off and tuck them somewhere.

On really sunny days, I sometimes just leave my glasses at home. The frames of my glasses are small enough that I can also wear Goodr sunglasses over my glasses without too much of an issue, but that’s not something I do on a regular basis.”

How Do I Keep My Glasses From Slipping When I Run?

You can avoid this by wearing glasses with a rubber nosepiece. Some people don’t find much of a difference, but others swear by that trick!

There are also sport straps available that hold your glasses in place during vigorous activity. Although most people think of these as something a basketball or volleyball player might want or need, runners also find them handy.

Throughout normal wearing glasses can also loosen up. Your ophthalmologist (or another employee at your eye clinic) can often make adjustments to help prevent slipping glasses.

Can Sweat Damage Glasses?

I was shocked to learn that sweat can damage your glasses. Because of this, you should regularly clean your glasses. Just like we focus on washing parts of our body that get sweaty, the items of clothing we are wearing should be cleaned thoroughly.

Do you put down a towel or another type of seat cover to protect your car seat after a hard effort on the track? Many people do that then neglect to wipe down the glasses they are wearing. Clean glasses frames with a non-abrasive cloth and a gentle cleanser. The glass should also be cleaned regularly so you can see properly.

Zara Harding
Zara Harding

Runner Zara Harding, “My prescription isn’t very strong but I do prefer being able to see signs earlier. My eyes are also stupid sensitive to any sort of UV so I have Nike sunglasses with prescription polarized lenses for running/hiking/biking that I wear every single second. Sometimes they fog up in the cold. I hate night running because I usually wear my regular glasses and they slip and slide.”

Contact Lenses As An Option

If you are prescription dependent, I would be remiss if I did not mention the benefits of contact lenses. Many athletes are quick to share the positive experiences they have with going glasses-free.

These athletes understand that while contacts do not work for everyone, they are a viable option for others. According to Cathy Henley, “I am so grateful for my contact lenses. I do not think I would run at all if I had to wear my glasses. I don’t even like to wear sunglasses when running. I use a visor to keep the sun out of my eyes!”

Prescription Sunglasses For The Win!

There are runners who wear both glasses and prescription sunglasses. This gives you the versatility of being able to see and shielding your eyes from the sun’s rays.

I purchased two pairs of prescription sunglasses for myself. One pair is cuter for daily wear and driving and the other is shaped differently and much more conducive to athletic activities such as running and golf.

My optical center had frames geared toward athletes and I found a pair that fit my face well. Tips for choosing prescription sunglasses:

  • Look for sport-specific sunglasses. These tend to have wraparound features to help shield your eyes.
  • Sports glasses also tend to be lighter which is great for athletic activities.
  • Put the frames on and jump up and down! (I’m serious! This helps you see if they stay in place).
  • Consider a pair with rubber at the nosepiece so that they are more likely to stay on your nose when you sweat.

Runner Candace says, “I wear bifocal sunglasses so I can read my Garmin! Heck, I need them so I can read anything!” (see photo above of Candace racing)

A Permanent Solution…

When I reached out to my online running community for their thoughts, one woman chose to express how thrilled she is with her decision to find a permanent solution to her vision problem. She stated that without Lasik, she doubted she would run as she does.

Whatever your vision problem, know that there is a solution out there for you. Whether you wear your glasses or leave them at home, choose to buy contacts or save your pennies for Lasik surgery, the important thing is you are out there pounding the pavement.

Just keep in mind that clear vision is important to your safety on a run and everywhere. Happy running, friends!

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