I often curse my parents. Though I consider myself fairly intelligent, and can thank their genes for that, I can also thank them for my lack of height, probable propensity for heart disease, and questionable vision. To be fair, my vision didn’t start to go south until my sophomore year in college, so I guess I got away lucky (my brother was wearing glasses in 5th grade). Even now my vision still isn’t too bad; I can pass the vision screening for my driver’s license without any corrective lenses.
Nevertheless, I wear glasses all the time for distance/general vision. It was no huge leap to deduce that it probably has an effect on my shooting. Sure, I can see the front sight on my handgun just fine, but figuring out where it is in relation to a target 25 yards away can be a challenge. Over the last few years, I came up with two ways of dealing with this. I could either wear my glasses underneath a pair of over-sized eye protection, or I could just wear regular eye protection with no corrective lenses and hope for the best. At closer ranges, the latter choice wasn’t a big deal. But when I took the CSAT Advanced Individual Tactics class in November of 2014 (AAR here), where we shot frequently at 50-80 yards–at times in the dark–the deficiencies of the lack of corrective lenses were all too evident.
I guess I should mention here that I cannot deal with contact lenses. I think I spent so many years watching my brother fiddle with his eyes putting his in, that I just can’t deal with touching my eye. So let’s just call that whole concept moot, okay?
Some members of one of the self-defense forums I regularly visit mentioned a company that makes prescription eye protection. The company is http://www.rx-safety.com. I bookmarked the site and kept the idea of prescription eye protection in the back of my mind.
I returned to CSAT in May of 2015 for the Urban Defense Course (AAR here) and decided to take a chance with my safety and shot the course with only my glasses on. My glasses are not made of glass, mind you, but I doubt that they carry much of an ANSI rating. Nevertheless, my eyes-my choice, so I shot the class with my glasses and performed better than I’d probably ever performed before in a class. This course had us shooting out to 300 yards with a carbine, which I did with a red dot scope mounted on a short-barreled rifle. My handgun work was better than at AIT as well.
I work in a school, and our fiscal year goes from July 1 to June 30. In addition to rather poor health benefits, we do have a Health Savings Account. Since only $500 carries over from year to year, and I’d barely touched the account all year, I went to the eye doctor to see if my prescription had changed. A very subtle change was recorded, so I got new glasses. With plenty of money still sitting in the HSA, I decided to go ahead and order a set of prescription eye protection from rx-safety.com. The glasses I chose were these:
$70 for the frames, and then it adds up from there depending on your lens options. I went with the clear lenses since they give me more options (can use in low-light classes, etc.). I think my total came to around $250. I ordered and received a confirmation email within minutes. The glasses shipped two days later and I had them in hand 5 days from ordering (I actually received them the day before my new pair of “regular” glasses came in locally). They came in a sturdy box with a hard zippered case with interior soft bag in which to store them.
The prescription seems spot on to me. If it is off, it’s not by much. I took them to the range for the first time a few weeks ago. I shot about the same as usually do with irons, but when I switched to a firearm equipped with a red dot optic, wow. When you use a red dot, your focus should be target-based, not sights-based, so here the full benefits of being able to actually SEE really helped a lot. I don’t know that I’ve ever shot so well.
I got to use them in a class for the first time the first weekend in August in the Trident Concepts Combative Handgun Level Two class taught by Jeff Gonzales (AAR here). Here again, it was a huge benefit to be able to SEE. Although I only shot using iron sights in this class, I believe my performance would have been deplorable had I not been able to see, as we did a lot of work at the 25 yard line.
My only gripe with these glasses is that ear pieces are noticeably “round” in cross section, rather than flat. The result is that my baseball style hat and ear protection really press the ear pieces into the sides of my head, and so every chance I could I removed my ear protection in order to give these areas of my head a rest. It seems a strange design flaw, considering most people who buy these glasses probably do so with shooting in mind. I might have to make some custom modifications to mine to make them more comfortable on my head.
In terms of service, I have no issues with the glasses. Indeed, you can even order frames ahead of time to try out sans lenses. If you don’t like them, you can return them, and keep returning them until you find a pair that fits your head the way you like. THEN, you can order the lenses to go into the frame of your choice. In hindsight, this was the way I should have gone, but I had to get my order in before July 1st, and I was running out of time (my own lack of planning!). The company communicated well, shipped very quickly, the lenses seem excellent, and now they keep emailing me 20-25% off coupons in case I decide to get another pair (where were those a few months ago?!).
In short, I highly recommend rx-safety.com. They offer frames by Wiley-X, among others, so check them out.
(Please note that I have written this review of my own volition. I am not being compensated in any way by rx-safety.com, nor am I in any way affiliated with rx-safety.com I am merely a satisfied customer who paid full price for prescription eye protection.)