When I was in second grade, my parents took me to the eye doctor. After I squinted at the chart and made a bunch of bad guesses about what it said, the doctor scrawled out a prescription for glasses. “I’m surprised she didn’t notice sooner,” the doctor told my parents. “She’s very nearsighted.”
Thus began my love-hate relationship with glasses. I love living in a place and time where it’s possible to correct your vision. Can you imagine living in the days before eyeglasses were invented? That would be awful! So no matter how much of a hassle I find my glasses, I’m certainly thankful to have them.
When I first began shooting, I soon discovered that safety eyewear and prescription glasses don’t go together all that well. You can’t go without safety gear, because you need side shields and some protection from the top to prevent brass from getting behind your eyeglasses. You also need lenses made of solid polycarb, so they won’t shatter if something bounces back at you. Most regular eyeglasses just won’t cut it by themselves.
No problem, I figured, I’ll just grab some $5 cheapie safety goggles from the hardware store, the kind with an elastic strap that will just go right over the top of my glasses.
Uh-uh. No. Goggles and glasses aren’t made to wear together no matter what the package says. The glasses fog. Smear ‘em with no-fog goop, and they still fog. The goggles – did I mention cheap? – distort the images. The cheap plastic scratches on first use. You get glare. It’s uncomfortable. Not worth it. I’d pay $5 to avoid this hassle.
Fine, I thought. I’ll move up to a $20 pair of over-the-glasses protective eyeglasses, like you can find at the gun store.
Better, but still not ideal. For one thing, wearing two pairs of glasses means the seal on your ear muffs gets twice as disrupted. So now you’re fighting with your ear protection as well as your eyewear. You still get a lot of glare and distortion. I found that sometimes the outer pair of glasses would slide down my nose, which made it decidedly hard to shoot well. At least this method reduced the amount of fogging. Sort of. It was still a long way from ideal.
A friend suggested just wearing protective eyewear without my usual glasses underneath. Yeah, like I hadn’t already thought of that. My vision is too bad without glasses to go this route, so I thanked her and moved on.
So what’s a girl with bad eyes to do? For me, the answer was simple. With as much time as I spend on the range, I simply had to pony up the money for prescription safety glasses. Oh, I can hear you cringing from here. But it’s nowhere near as expensive as you’d think, and for me it was a godsend. Totally, 100% worth it, no questions asked. If you shoot a lot, you should look into this possibility the next time you get your prescription updated. Did I mention worth it?
Meanwhile, back in the real world where people are sometimes broke and where most people don’t spend as much time on the range as I do, here’s one answer.
- First, ask your optician to put polycarb lenses in your regular eyeglasses. It’s an upgrade, but it’s typically only around $15 as an add on when you’re buying your glasses. You might do this anyway, as polycarbs tend to be lightweight and a bit more sturdy over time. And that whole “won’t shatter when struck” thing is kind of important too.
- Next, pop over to Amazon and order simple $5 side shields (like these) for your glasses. The side shields keep brass from flying in from the sides when you’re shooting. As you can see, they do work best with non-fancy earpieces, so that’s something to keep in mind.
- Finally, always wear a ball cap on the range to keep brass from falling in behind your glasses from the top.