Optilab wrap-around prescription sunglasses
A three-decade search for good quality wrap-around prescription sunglasses ends with Optilabs.
I have a prescription of around -6.5. That means I am quite badly myopic (short-sighted). These days I wear fashionable specs with thinned down lenses but the hunt for decent prescription sunglasses has been long, expensive and tiresome.
I sometimes wear contact lenses and pop on ordinary sports sunglasses but for ease I prefer to wear prescription sunglasses. I want wraparound sunglasses to suit my sports of hill walking, running and cycling.
Only, most sunglasses brands do not make lenses to suit my shortsighted eyes. Apparently, my prescription makes it very difficult to create rounded lenses that do not cause a lot of sight distortion.
The alternative is to have a flat lens insert fitted to the back of a normal sunglasses lens. I have heard that these can be prone to fogging up, however.
I have had some success with the brand, Bolle, and a Glasgow optician. The Bolle frames were fitted with specialist lenses supplied by Currie and Quirk opticians in Byres Road. These have been okay but because the lenses are so thick they often pop out of the frame and I have also experienced some depth distortion.
However, for a long time these were the best solution for my shortsighted eyes.
Then I spotted a few cyclists wearing Optilabs sunglasses. The website revealed reasonable prices, sunglasses for prescriptions as poor as mine and also the option to have photochromic lenses.
Buying prescription sunglasses from Optilabs
The website is helpful but the customer service people are even better. I phoned to ask them about frames to suit a female. They made a few suggestions. Three frames can be sent out for the customer to try before agreeing to a purchase.
This process was easy and efficient. Having chosen a frame I returned the three pairs to Optilabs. They also sell Bolle, by the way!
I then went on-line to buy the frames and lenses. The process is straightforward although there are lots of lenses options to choose from. In the end I decided that photochromic lenses would be worth a go. I find it annoying to swap glasses when going indoors and I liked the idea of one pair to cope with sun and indoors.
I added anti-glare and anti-scratch coatings and the total came to about £200. I have paid more than £350 before so this seemed like great value.
The first pair of sunglasses arrive
The sunglasses were a good fit and they felt light (this is important for sports) but I found that the photochromic lenses did not go dark enough, even on a sunny Scottish day.
I called Optilabs who told me the photochromic system takes a while to work properly. Three weeks apparently. So I held on to the glasses for a few weeks. However, I still didn’t feel as though the lenses would go dark enough. I am blue eyed and do suffer with bright sunlight.
So I sent the glasses back with a covering note to say why they weren’t quite right. Optilabs said they would offer a full refund.
A few days later I got a call from Optilabs.
Service second to none from Optilabs
I was amazed by this service. Instead of giving up on me and simply sending out a refund they offered to change the lenses. They explained that lenses can be created in different grades of shade. For example, 1 to 3 where 1 is clear and 3 is quite dark, or 2 to 4, where 2 is not quite clear but good enough for being indoors and 4 is much darker.
The sunglasses were duly returned to me with lenses that do go dark enough for a range of sunny conditions. They do not go completely clear when indoors but they are light enough for me to see most things. The process isn’t instant, so they do not suddenly lighten up but it’s far better than having to find my everyday glasses to put on each time I go into, say, a shop, or cafe.
Better still I find that the lenses do not distort my depth perception or vision. This is amazing. The lenses are quite thick but the shape of the frame hides most of this.
I have been wearing the sunglasses for all kinds of sports since then, including skiing (bright sunshine and white snow!), running and cycling. I really, really like them.
The lenses do not get fogged up because there is an airflow gap at the side of the lens. One leg of the sunglasses did rub when I was wearing a ski helmet every day for a fortnight but I sorted this with a bit of tape to soften it.
The nose piece feels good and sturdy and the glasses do not slip down my nose when I wear them with a buff around my head. When wearing the glasses without a buff I can add the cord to the legs to keep them in place on my head.
It’s great to find sunglasses that give me clear vision, fit well and are great quality. I’d recommend Optilabs. (I paid for the glasses and did not receive them as a kit review.)