Specialty Eyewear is designed to suit specific applications. They are specific to an activity, occupation, or hobby. The features included in the eyewear are selected are to enhance performance, provide protection, increase comfort, and aid efficiency.

Specialty eyewear can be as simple as a pair of prescription near vision glasses set for a certain distance.

Some materials, coatings, and lens designs, and frame designs can make the eyewear more useful or helpful.

Occupational Safety Glasses fall under the specialty eyewear group. Safety glasses protect eyes from flying debris while correcting vision.

Some other examples of specialty eyewear:

  • Computer glasses
  • Fishing/Boating Glasses
  • Shooting./Archery/Hunting Glasses
  • Driving Glasses
  • Cycling Glasses



Computer Glasses

Progressive lenses are great all-around lenses, and work well for short periods of time on a computer, but for extended computer use, computer glasses can make the job a lot easier, and alleviate eyestrain and shoulder cramps

Computer glasses are tailored to the specific setup and the computer user's needs. Just as you might have different sneakers for jogging and for playing tennis or golf, you will find that different eyeglasses work better for different computer use. Laptops and tablets are much different from a large screen on a desktop, or even a multi-screen setup in an office.

computer desk workplace

Frame choice for computer glasses can vary as well. For home use, where no mirrors are near, and nobody will be dropping in, an inexpensive but comfortable frame may be best, especially if multiple pairs are needed. For an office environment or something public facing, a finer frame may be desired, but comfort is very important, so pick something that fits properly, is lightweight, and has enough viewing area to give the full benefit of the lens chosen.

I'll discuss the lens options according to increasing cost and complexity.

Single Vision

For those that just need to see the screen, and need to see it full width, single vision is inexpensive and simple. An advantage to inexpensive is that they can be left right by the compute when you leave. Just swap them with your all-around eyeglasses.

Single vision lenses should be set for the working distance of your computer screen. Reading glasses will focus to close. When prescribing computer lenses, the doctor will need to know the distance from your eye (or tip of your nose) to the computer screen. If you take an actual measurement, you'll be happier with the result.

Single Vision With Accommodative Easing

Essilor, one of the largest lens companies, introduced a lens called EyeZen+ that has a little bit of add power in the lower part of the lens. The lenses are designed to make prolonged use of digital devices such as tablets and cell phones less straining. There are four levels of power available, roughly matched to the age of the intended wearer. The lenses also filter out some of the higher range of the blue spectrum to help protect against damage that may lead to Age Related Macular Degenration.


Traditional Bifocal

Some people need to be able to see the screen of a desktop computer and be able to read from paper, such as entering receipts into an accounting program. A traditional bifocal with a low add can be an ideal solution with the added benefit of being inexpensive. The whole screen is clearly in focus. The bifocal segment is set very low to be out of the way when viewing the screen.

Computer Progressive

There are special progressive lenses marketed as computer lenses. These lenses are optimized to have a very wide intermediate zone. The distance zone is very narrow, and the near zone is not as wide as in a more traditional progressive lens. Computer progressive lenses are a specialty product and are priced accordingly. The cost is set at the wholesale level by the lens laboratories.

Office Progressive Lens

 An office progressive is similar to a computer progressive, but optimized for paperwork, and other more generalized intermediate work. If you do a lot of computer work, but also require a lot of mobility and other office activities, an office progressive lens is a better choice than a computer progressive. 

Blue Light Filtering

There are two ranges of blue light which are common to filter. Recent research indicates that these ranges of the light spectrum have suprising effect on us.

The higher frequency range of blue light is considered damaging to the retina. Complete filtering of the high frequency (high energy) blue light gives a lens a yellowish cast that is unatrractive. Most products filter only 20% of the high energy blue light to avoid the unattractive yelllow cast.

Long wavelength blue light (lower frequency) has been shown to affect circadian rhythm (sleep cycles). For those that find themselves awake until late in the night using the computer, a blue filter of the low frequency blue light may help you restore normal sleep patterns.

Anti-reflective coating

Anti-reflective coatings make a lens clearer to look through. They also remove annoying refelctions and ghost images which can make computer work tedious and cause eye strain. While not necessary, Anti-reflective coating makes computer work a lot nicer.

Golfer Glasses

Some golfers want an unobstructed and undistorted view of the course. For presbyopic golfers, this is complicated by the need to read and jot on the scorecard.

golf putt

For this situation, one past solution was to place a round seg bifocal on one lens, low and out of the way. If the golfer was right handed, the segment would be on the right lens so that when teeing off, the view of the fairway is unobstructed to the left. The view downward at the ball is also unobstructed at the tee and on the green. For a lefty, the seg would be set on the left lens, also low and out of the way.

To jot on the score card, the golfer tilts his head and looks through the seg.

Round segs are still available in clear and Transitions, but not in polarized nor in Transitions Vantage which is a photochromic polarized lens.

Some golfers are comfortable with progressive lenses for golf. Progressive lenses give a a gradual progression from distance in the top of the lens to near in the lower part. 

Progressives designed for more active lifestyle, such as Varilux Physio, or Varilux X Series lenses are a better choice than those progressives more suited to an office environment, and are available in Grey, Brown, and Graphite Green as Transitions Signature VII, as well as in Transitions Vantage for a versatile polarized choice.

While designed for a more active lifestyle, general use progressive lenses still require some compromise. Physio and X Series are still general use lenses. There is some peripheral distortion in the distance zone, which may reduce the clarity of the view down link. The view of the tee may also be unclear and distorted because too much of the reading area is in the way. Because the golfer is trying to see the tee clearly, there is a tendency to hold the head at the wrong angle for good posture for that perfect drive swing.

There is a golf specific progressive lens design from Shamir. The distance zone offers edge to edge clarity. The full reading zone is moved way down the lens out of the way. The intermediate zone comes in slowly so that the golfer's head is at the right attitude to see the ball on the tee, and the posture is perfect for a great swing.

The Shamir Golf lens also has much less swim than a general use progressive because of these optimizations. The lens is a wrap around design which provides better optics for edge to edge clarity.

Crizal anti-reflective coatings on the lenses, such as the new Crizal Sapphire 360 UV, wil enhance the clarity of the lens, and eliminate the annoying reflections off the back of the lens that can make it hard to spot the ball.

Sun protection is important, both to reduce glare on the course, and to shield the eyes from high energy solar radiation that can damage the retina over time. For long periods on the course, this is vitally important.

Transitions lenses offer the advantage of lightening up indoors and on overcast days. Transitions XtraActive lenses get darker than standard Transitions Signature VII lenses. There are also polarized lenses available in grey or brown that knock down reflections off grass and water hazards. For the ultimate convenience and protection, Transitions Vantage is polarized and darkens in the sun. Grey lenses are color neutral. Brown lenses heighten contrast slightly and are warmer.

We recommend that golf lenses be of Trivex or Polycarbonate material to afford maximum impact protection. Trivex has better clarity than polycarbonate because of its lower Abbe value. Abbe is a measure of dispersion, a chromatic abberation. You may be familar with how a prism separates light into it's component colors. That is the dispersion effect.

The Best Golf Lens:

  • Shamir Golf Progressive
  • Trivex
  • Transitions Vantage
  • Crizal Sapphire Anti-Reflective Coating

Painter's (artist) Glasses

A painter came to us with a special problem specific to his hobby. He needed to be able to see the canvas on his easel, as well as his subject.

male artists with easel
The subject was at distance, and the canvas was at arm length - slightly more than reading distance.

We solved his problem by selecting a very wide segment traditional bifocal (FT35), adjusting the prescription for the working distances, and turning the segments sideways in the frame - to the right side in this case. The patient was then able to look left to see the subject, and right to see the easel.

Sideway bifocals

Something similar can be achieved for musicians in an orchestra, where they need to be able to read sheet music on a stand and also see the conductors movement.

Novel approaches such as this make the profession of opticianry a lot of fun.

Motorcycle Goggles

A patient came in looking for eyeglasses with side shields to protect him from the wind as he rode his Harley Davison.

We noted that he would also need a good fit about the bridge of his nose for good wind protection. The lenses and frame would also have to have good impact resistance.

Prescription Motorcycle Goggles LightThe frame we selected from our safety eyewear catalog is a Titmus SW06. It is a nylon frame with 17° faceform, removable dust dam, and integral side shields.

Prescription Motorcycle Goggles DarkenedThe lenses are polycarbonate for their superior impact resistance and modest cost. For sun protection, the lenses were ordered with Transitions Vantage which lighten and darken with sunlight, and also have a polarized filter when darkened. Polarization eliminates glare from reflected light, and allows clear vision into other vehicles.

The patient did not feel that progressive lenses were necessary for riding, which kept the cost down. We recommended against anti-reflection coating, expecting that dust and abrasives would reduce its durability and accellerate the need to replace the lenses.