/ Climbing with varifocals

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climber_Ken - on 02 Jan 2017
Hi. I have reached that age where I need to consider varifocals for my next pair of specs. A bit wary of these for climbing. Imagining looking down at my feet and everything goes blurred! Anyone got any experience of climbing with these on?
kevin stephens - on 02 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken: Varifocal glasses are great for climbing. You soon get used to instinctively knowing what part of the lens you look through for hand or foot hold. Make sure the optician customises them properly for you

Climbing Pieman on 02 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:
Personally I would not ever consider wearing mine for climbing. I think though I'm one of those few that can't adjust to using varifocals when moving despite having had them for many years. I can't walk with them for example, but am fine when sitting and using them just for different distances.
Solaris - on 02 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:
In my experience, they are great, and I had no trouble adjusting to them. But I know that some can't get on with them.

Two cautionary notes: if I were getting new frames, I'd get narrow side pieces. Mine aren't particularly wide but they do slightly affect my peripheral vision and that has a noticeable knock-on effect, especially when I'm running. The other thing is that if you do any alpine climbing, you may find you need glacier glasses adjusted to your prescription. I only have them adjusted for distance, which is a bit of a pain when I'm trying to place gear when leading rock pitches.
Post edited at 22:46
Jon Stewart - on 02 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

I'm an optom, but not at that age yet. People seem to get on with vari's but I'd recommend contact lenses. Much more adaptable, no risk of breaking them. CLs are way better for climbing in than specs anyway, but once you're in varis, the CL option has even more advantages.
philhilo - on 02 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

No issues going from ordinary to vari focal lenses climbing. Alas contact lenses not available in vari focal astigmatic prescriptions.
Jon Stewart - on 02 Jan 2017
In reply to philhilo:

Multifocal CLs for astigmatism do exist (not many options of brands, but there are a couple out there). Also, depending on the degree of astigmatism, a toric (astigmatism) lens in the dominant eye for distance, and a spherical multifocal in the other can work well; or monovision (where the non-dom eye is corrected for close up).

If you'd rather wear CLs for climbing, a decent optom should be able to sort you something that works.
auld al on 02 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

I've had no problem with my varifocals, in fact essential for seeing small placements and footholds. The only thing I found is that it's impossible to try before you buy. I would recommend going for a good quality lens
Jon Stewart - on 02 Jan 2017
In reply to auld al:

> I would recommend going for a good quality lens

Better vision for sure, but do you want to wear your £500 Zeiss lenses at the crag?
abseil on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

No problem for me at all.
brianjcooper on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:
I found varifocals made me dizzy so have bifocals instead. Full lens left to right, for each focal setting if that makes sense.

Still can't get off the ground...

Post edited at 01:41
philhilo - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Sounds like you are in the business - thanks for that. I find CLs a pain in the backside but do find them useful for some things.
Martin W on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

I don't have any problems climbing in varifocals. As Kevin said, you soon learn to tilt your head slightly so you're looking through the right bit of the lens to spot holds. A reasonably close-fitting frame is a good idea, to reduce the risk of the glasses being knocked awry/off by the rope or whatever.

> Imagining looking down at my feet and everything goes blurred!

I actually find the opposite problem: looking up at things close to, you can't get them in focus because your neck just doesn't bend back far! I've not noticed this problem when climbing, though: if you're looking that far up then the hold is probably at arm's length anyway, plus your fingers can feel their way on to a handhold much more easily then can toes encased in rubber! I find it more often a problem when doing fiddly DIY in tight spaces, eg fitting a security camera in the corner of a room just below the ceiling. Sheesh, that was awkward. I keep meaning to buy a cheap pair of readers for jobs like that, but I never seem to get round to it.

I am constitutionally unable to get on with contact lenses (can't get the b*ggers out!)
Bulls Crack - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to brianjcooper:

I'm currently using cheap half-moon reading glasses for feet/hands + peering over the top looking up - seems to work and, I like to think, they give an academic air to my climbing.
oldie - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

One bad experience with contact lenses. Winter climbing with a friend one of his popped out (impossible to find in snow). It was impossible for him to function with just one in and he was almost blind without....had to virtually hold his hand on descent. This would of course have been solved by having spare lenses if weather wasn't too bad and modern throwaway lenses are obviously an advantage.
Only other vision problem was in Wetterstein with a German friend who couldn't read the guide without his contact lenses and couldn't understand my rendition of the text!
Personally I've found that distance vision has improved with age and I don't need glasses any longer.
Welsh Kate - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to oldie:

Funnily enough, winter precipitated my move to contacts for outdoor activities: my glasses fogged over and froze on a top, and a friend had to guide me until I could stop and de-freeze them! This was the encouragement I needed to use contact lenses, but I still use glasses for everyday.

I recently moved to varifocal glasses (I'm that age) and love them, but am struggling with the trial pack of varifocal contact lenses I have - can't sort out the close-up focusing. Any suggestions from our forum optom?
Albion - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

Find Varifocals great. Don't get narrow lenses because they don't seem to work as well. Avoid High Street because most of them are sharks and they will rip you off. Asda are very competitive and do two for one deals etc
Jon Stewart - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Bulls Crack:

Go and get your eyes tested for goodness sake man. Climbing in half-moons? Why not try a monocle?
cb294 - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Bulls Crack:

Academic? Peering vaguely along your nose above your half moon glasses, neck bent in a slightly coy fashion and eyeballs rolled up makes you look more like Bambi!

I have to replace the glasses in my vaguely Marxist wire frames again, guess my arms get shorter and shorter.....

CB
Jon Stewart - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to ruckman:

> Avoid High Street because most of them are sharks and they will rip you off.

Depends what you mean. The big chains, including the grocers, will try and sell you all sorts of crap you don't need. The independents may well charge you the earth, but you may well get a better service.

If it was me, and I had anything wrong with my eyes, or risks such as eye problems in the family, I'd find myself a good independent who had good equipment and a clinically motivated optom who I could see each time.

If I just wanted cheap specs, I'd go to one of the chains but be careful of all the snake oil on offer. I'm not sure about how good the grocers are at actually dispensing glasses - taking the measurements so that a pair of vari's actually work, but they should have someone in store who can use a ruler, even if they're not a qualified Dispensing Optician. An independent will have good dispensing staff, but you'll be paying their wages.

Bulls Crack - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Tested very recently! The half moons work well for me - first used on a 7b - my first for 20+ years!
Jon Stewart - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Welsh Kate:

> struggling with the trial pack of varifocal contact lenses I have - can't sort out the close-up focusing. Any suggestions from our forum optom?

Getting multifocal contacts to work is basically trial and error. If this the first trial lot you've had, then view it as a starting point to find out what needs to be improved (distance/near/comfort, etc). If you're in dailies and don't have much astigmatism, then I get best results from the brand J&J Moist - a good lens, optically (not one I would wear all day everyday though). If your optom follows the fitting guide to the letter, they should work: if you're struggling with near there's a tweak to be made to the prescription which should help.

If you keep going back for further tweaks and it's never satisfactory, you might have to give up. But keep an open mind, and let them make a few tweaks, as they can be really great when they work. It's not an exact science though (much less so than specs) so you need to be willing to try a few different versions to find out what works.

Sometimes the first pair work a treat, but there is always some degree of compromise - it'll never be as sharp as specs; and if your 'reading add' is 2.00 or more, it's quite hard to get good close vision without cocking up the distance.
Jon Stewart - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Bulls Crack:

Haha. Maybe I'll start recommending them more...

"Some people say these glasses make you look like you've escaped from a Dickensian novel, but they're very practical and excellent for sports such as rock climbing".
Welsh Kate - on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Jon, thanks so much, that's really helpful. The reading prescription isn't very high, so hopefully we'll find the right balance with a bit of trial and error
brianjcooper on 03 Jan 2017
In reply to Bulls Crack:

> I'm currently using cheap half-moon reading glasses for feet/hands + peering over the top looking up - seems to work and, I like to think, they give an academic air to my climbing.

Never thought of that! Great idea.
I might have to work on the 'academic air' as my 'hanging on for grim death' tends to give it away.
Albion - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:
Don't agree at all. Once parted with a lot of money for a pair of titanium frames from an independent High street optician. they were sold on their strength and durability and they lasted just over the year. Bought 2 pairs on offer from Asda for half the price and they are still going strong after 4 years, even after quite a bit of stick.Their qualified optician seems to have done her job really well. Greedy independents have been fleecing people for years. Glad to see the back of 'em.
kevin stephens - on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

you can get an eye test and prescription from any optician and shop around for glasses on line. I was very impressed with prescription varifocal lenses I got from RX Sport for my Oakley half jacket sun glasses. The process included posting some dummy frames to me to wear while taking a selfie photograph to e-mail back so they could get the focus zones etc right.
http://www.rxsport.co.uk/categories/Prescription-Glasses/
Rob Exile Ward on 04 Jan 2017
In reply to ruckman:

'Greedy independents have been fleecing people for years. ' Some may have done. Others haven't; on the contrary. Don't bring your trade to us, thanks very much, you won't appreciate what we do and we certainly don't need your aggro.

To the OP: I'm conflicted! I've been a presbyope (i.e. need specs for close work) for 20 years and still haven't resolved it, I can't walk or scramble with varifocals - I find it really disconcerting - but have a cheap(ish) pair for climbing which I am increasingly using.

My wife (who is an optom) is constantly trying to wrestle me into multifocal contacts, which I know work fine for skiing and climbing and so on, but I just cant be bothered...
Albion - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:
Don't worry you won't get it. This industry has been involved in price fixing since the year dot.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2983648/Varifocal-glasses-rip-claim-sparks-price-war-Asda-ta...
Post edited at 19:11
Mark Kemball - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to ruckman:

> Don't agree at all. Once parted with a lot of money for a pair of titanium frames from an independent ...

I did the same, they broke after just under 2 years, went back to the independent - "No problem, 2 year guarantee" as my original frames were no longer made, I ended up with new frames and lenses (the old scratched ones didn't fit the new frame) at no cost. Great service from the local independent optician.
Mark Kemball - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

Having worn glasses most of my life, I have had no problems with the shift to varifocals (except it's a complete sod trying to see what you're doing changing a light bulb), the older you are, the longer it seems to take for you to adjust, so go for them asap. Climbing in them, no problem.
Rob Exile Ward on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to ruckman:

Well, I've been working in the industry since 1990 and there is no price fixing; the margins on optical goods are pretty much comparable with other retail goods, e.g. clothes. But hey, what do I know, when compared with the well-known thoroughness of Daily Mail investigative journalism.

Asda specs are cr*p, for the avoidance of doubt; the lenses, frames, manufacture and fitting are all poor quality. Some independents will be nearly as bad; most aren't.
Jon Stewart - on 05 Jan 2017
In reply to kevin stephens:

> you can get an eye test and prescription from any optician and shop around for glasses on line. I was very impressed with prescription varifocal lenses I got from RX Sport for my Oakley half jacket sun glasses. The process included posting some dummy frames to me to wear while taking a selfie photograph to e-mail back so they could get the focus zones etc right.


Interesting! With a clear, accurate selfie there's no reason this shouldn't work well. An innovative process, good on'em. I'm not so much a fan of online companies who sell specs with no regard to whether the lenses are in the right place or not!
Martin W on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> it'll never be as sharp as specs; and if your 'reading add' is 2.00 or more, it's quite hard to get good close vision without cocking up the distance.

Since I passed that threshold a few years back, that gives me another reason to rebuff those who insist on recommending that I try contacts!
Martin W on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Rob Exile Ward:

> what do I know, when compared with the well-known thoroughness of Daily Mail investigative journalism.

To clarify and amplify: The Daily Mail's "investigative journalism" in the article cited consisted of regurgitating market comparison claims made by Asda's PR department at the time that Asda decided to launch their varifocal range, followed by a few unremarkable quotes elicited by calls to the chains criticised by Asda. (None of those chains - by definition - are independents, of course.)

Neither Asda nor the Daily Mail accused anyone of price fixing - the evidence put forward showed wide variations in pricing and wouldn't support such an assertion. All Asda said was that the other chains were "ripping off" their customers, then compared prices of "designer frames with varifocal lenses" at various outlets with the budget frames that Asda was going to market with - so not exactly comparing like with like. Anyone who's ever shopped for glasses knows that the prices of frames can vary enormously, while the lenses cost the same (unless perhaps you need out-of-the-ordinary optics to accommodate a particularly unhelpful frame design). Basically it's the same dishonest comparison that certain 'low cost' supermarkets do when they compare the costs of their shopping baskets full of own-brand goods against other supermarkets' baskets which just happen to contain branded equivalents, even though those other supermarkets also offer own-brand versions at lower cost.

So what it comes down to is: Asda played more than a little fast and loose with the facts and this was gleefully picked up by one of the Daily Mail's "journalism by press release" hacks - probably because the resulting 'story' is a perfect fit for paper's style (people don't call it The Daily Hate for no reason). And then ruckman claimed that this is was proof of price fixing. Welcome to the post-truth world, folks. Who needs evidence when you are convinced that you're right!
Jon Stewart - on 06 Jan 2017
In reply to Martin W:
> Anyone who's ever shopped for glasses knows that the prices of frames can vary enormously, while the lenses cost the same (unless perhaps you need out-of-the-ordinary optics to accommodate a particularly unhelpful frame design).

Worth noting too that the price of the frame isn't really the price of the frame. The chains make a massive loss on doing eye tests, and recoup it all in spec sales. People don't really like paying a lot for lenses - which are a high-value technical product, but they're quite happy to pay a couple of hundred quid for 50p's worth of plastic with a fashionable brand printed on the side. So lots of costs get displaced into what is presented to the consumer as the price of the frame, which of course isn't really worth anything compared to the lenses - just look at the technology of the two components!

The fact that the companies make a big loss on eye tests is why I'm under so much pressure to flog very expensive crap to people regardless of whether they need it or not. Also why I don't get sufficient time to deal with people who have complex clinical needs, poor communication, etc, etc, as they're taking up time that I could spend selling expensive glasses to some healthy, rich customer. The incentives, when you provide healthcare in a retail environment (and managed by retail morons), all militate against the delivery of high quality care for those with the greatest needs, and against good quality impartial advice.

Would you go and see a doctor employed by Pfizer who was getting a bonus for every dose of the company's drugs they prescribed? If only people were prepared to pay a little bit more tax, so that everyone could have an eye test when they needed one, for free at the point of delivery, and could receive high quality care and impartial advice given by a professional who was there to provide healthcare rather than generate profit for a retailer.
Post edited at 23:26
Hooo - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

How about this suggestion that I got from Jon in a previous thread?
Wear standard contacts but with a slightly weaker prescription in the non-dominant eye.

I've just spent a week skiing and climbing with this, and it worked brilliantly. If I thought about it I could tell the focus wasn't quite right, but if I just looked at the map and up to the distance both were in focus. My brain just used the eye with the sharp image unconsciously.
Hooo - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Thanks Jon for the suggestion
Jon Stewart - on 07 Jan 2017
In reply to Hooo:

> Thanks Jon for the suggestion

No worries. Although note that it's a rather a better idea to go and get some contact lenses fitted by someone with a qualification rather than taking advice off someone you've never met (who says they're an optom and seems genuine) off an internet forum. They are your eyes after all
climber_Ken - on 16 Jan 2017
In reply to climber_Ken:

Wow! Thanks everyone. A lot of detail and good information here.
Ken

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