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Rx for Shades

Rx for Shades
Rx for Shades

Improving your vision on the water.

By Fritz Grell

Originally published in January 2009 print edition

At that age when you need reading glasses? You may have double the trouble seeing on the water.

Readers over sunglasses seldom stay in place well even during the controlled times of tying knots, rigging baits or reading electronics. Worse, stick-on corrective lenses are hard to keep in place and optically marginal.

The good sunglasses I often see on the dock are made by companies such as Costa Del Mar, Maui Jim, Hobie, Ono, Ocean Waves, Flying Fisherman and Ray Ban. My own are prescription Costa Del Mar which can be purchased directly or from authorized prescription labs such as Clearsight Opticians and RxSunglass (www.rxsunglass.com).

Special lenses for special purposes: More than one set may help.

The first step to seeing well is to visit your eye doctor to determine the appropriate corrective lenses. In my case, I received two prescriptions, one for sunglasses and one for readers. The readers are a bit stronger since they are for closer range. The sunglasses are not quite as strong since I need to focus at a slightly greater distance in order to read my electronics. It was a great solution from my doctor and I highly recommend it.

I don't always wear my prescription glasses, however, and you really need to be careful getting on and off the boat until you are used to the Rx glasses. Your distance perception is distorted by the Rx portion and one can miss the gunnel of the boat and go overboard when looking through the corrected portion of the glasses. For the same reason, I wear a great pair of non-prescription Wiley X Eyewear glasses playing golf. The Rx portion of the glasses is distracting when looking down at the golf ball, and when you play golf as I do, there is no reason to read the score card anyway.

When I called Costa for my last pair of glasses, they wanted a copy of my doctor's prescription and my pupillary distance (PD) measurement. Costa, like other name-brand sunglasses companies, produces very clear lenses, in this case of optical glass or optic-grade CR-39 plastic. The manufacturer says these glasses provide 100 percent UV protection, and thanks to mirroring, they cut the yellow light that creates visible glare.

Glass or plastic? Glass is harder, but heavier. Plastic scratches more easily, but can be much lighter and thus more comfortable to wear.

Taking Care

> Do not clean glasses with a salty boat towel or dirty T-shirt; this results in scratched, hazy glasses. Keep lens cloths in your pockets; use them, and your lenses will stay like new. A box of 50 Zeiss lens cloths costs less than $3.

> Use the case they send with the glasses instead of just tossing the glasses on the dash of your truck at night.

> Don't forget to add a neck cord before you take them to the boat; otherwise, you might not get to enjoy the investment for long. You can also drill tiny holes in the frame where it fits behind the ear and tie a lanyard for them with heavy leader line.

Additional options to improve your sight on the water:

> For those who wear conventional glasses all the time, slip-over polarized sunglass might make sense. Cocoons by Live Eyewear, for example, cover your glasses with flexible frames and quality lenses that look much like standard fishing glasses, but at a fraction of the cost of Rx polarized sunglasses; www.cocoonseyewear.com.

> Or, opt for reader-type sunglasses as your backup. Sun Mag offers polarized readers in magnification from 1.50 to 2.50, at around $40; www.sunmagplus.com.

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