By John Marsh
- Single-vision, lined bifocal and progressive lens inserts available
- System attaches prescription insert to nose piece of your sunglasses frame
- Thin polycarbonate prescription lens inserts make for light-weight, more comfortable sunglasses
- Prescription lens inserts are cut and compensated to the frame to enhance field of vision and visual acuity
- Durable, scratch- and impact-resistant lens materials also offer UV protection
- Can cut prescription inserts to fit many frame styles (including frames you already own)
- Easy ordering process online for both prescription inserts and frame options
- Frames available from numerous name-brand makers
- If you remove the prescription lens insert in the frames tested, they can be a bit tricky to reinstall
Cost: Prescription Inserts: single-vision polycarbonate insert – $164; lined bifocal polycarbonate insert – $189; progressive polycarbonate insert – $234. Frames sold separately at varying price points.
How obtained: review sample from company
Available: company website
Prescription lenses: single-vision, lined bifocal, progressive
Frames: Available from several name-brand companies, including: Oakley, Smith, Bolle, Rudy Project, Rapha, Tifosi and others.
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: Oakley Radar EV Path with Prizm Road Lenses, Matte Black Frame ($221) with progressive polycarbonate insert ($234); tested 2+ months
SVED Optical Offers Cost-Effective Option for Rx Cycling Sunglasses
Note: This is the 2nd pair of SVED prescription sunglasses I’ve reviewed. My first review was of the NYX Classic Competition frame in 2018. Those served me well until the frame started to show some wear recently, not the mention that my prescription had changed enough since then to warrant new glasses anyway. SVED provided a new set with my updated prescription in the Oakley Radar EV Path frame.
I’ve worn cycling sunglasses for all the years I’ve been riding the road. This is my 8th pair, having worn expensive name-brand frames with single-vision prescription inserts, as well as a couple of pairs of single-lens prescription cycling sunglasses with progressive lenses about as thick on the side as an iPhone.
I’m even more concerned with comfort in everything I wear today than I was five years ago when reviewing my first pair of SVED sunglasses. So while I very much appreciated the peripheral acuity afforded by those single-lens options I’ve worn in the past, the overall acuity suffered somewhat, and the weight – even with ultra-light materials – dictated by the sheer size of the lenses necessary for my prescription, was a detriment to comfort.
Enter SVED Optical, a Utah-based company that’s been in business for nearly 30 years and focuses exclusively on prescription lens inserts for sports sunglasses. The company specializes in making custom inserts to be thinner, lighter, stronger and with sharper optics compared to others on the market. The insert can be attached to numerous name-brand and other frames – including frames you may already own. (SVED’s inserts work with frames that have a removable nose piece or interchangeable lenses.)
Especially appealing to me was, and is, SVED’s ability to make progressives in my prescription. The last time I had worn cycling sunglasses with prescription lens inserts, I was still using single-vision lenses. I’ve long since joined the ranks of the “progressives.” SVED also makes old-school lined bifocal inserts for those who don’t like progressives.
Pricing and Ordering
SVED made a pair of specs for me using the $221 Oakley Radar EV Path with Prizm Road Lenses, Matte Black Frame and $234 progressive polycarbonate insert. The company’s single-vision polycarbonate insert goes for $164, and the lined bifocal polycarbonate insert for $189. The insert can be mated to just about any frame with a removable nose piece or interchangeable lenses.
You can opt to use a frame you already own, or you can shop via SVED’s website from numerous eyewear makers, including such well-known cycling brands as Oakley, Smith, Bolle, Rudy Project and Tifosi. Once you have purchased a frame, you then choose the lens insert you want, fill out the form, and attach your prescription (you’ll also need to include your pupil distance, or PD), and send in your frame. The company makes your prescription insert, attaches it to your nose piece or frame, and then sends it to you (shipping is free).
I will always remember paying around $600 for my first pair of single-vision prescription sunglasses (a pair of Rudy Project specs with flip-down sun lenses), so the $450 cost for the sunglasses I tested still seems like a bargain. Especially considering the quality.
Fit and Comfort
I am an admitted Oakley fan. My everyday glasses are a pair of Oakleys (actually, I’m on the second pair of the same frameset). So it was little surprise to me that the matte black Radar EV Path both looked, and fit, great immediately.
The glasses are super well-made and robust. The temples wrap snugly – and perfectly – along the side of the head past the ear. The entire temple is covered in rubber, which helps hold the frame in place on your head. Combined with the equally well-fitting rubber nose piece, the sunglasses stay put on your face during the ride – no matter how much sweat may be pouring. (I can’t say that about every pair of cycling specs I’ve worn, which variously require the occasional “push up” after sliding down the nose, temple tip adjustments, etc.)
SVED’s optics are terrific. I can see really well with these glasses, with both distance and reading vision dialed in. My computer display is clear, as is my view of the road ahead.
Part of SVED’s process is “compensating” your prescription to your specific frame. That entails ensuring the lenses are precisely crafted and sit in the perfect position to achieve your best possible vision (with these specific frames and lenses, that means not losing any vision in the periphery, either).
While we often fixate on the look and style of the sunglasses we wear, none of that matters with prescription sunglasses if you can’t see well out of them.
SVED puts vision first by focusing on the actual prescription insert and then building that into a frame – not the other way around, as almost every other option on the market does.
The Extras and A Very Minor Drawback
While this will differ based on the frame you purchase, the extras with the Oakley frame I tested include a microfiber storage bag and a hard-side zippered case.
I’ve nearly always chosen an amber lens tint, which for me works for almost all conditions. However, the Prism Road lenses in these glasses, with a mirrored rose tint, have been terrific.
Other nice touches are: SVED’s 30-day “trial” period, after which – if you’re not completely satisfied – you can return the insert for a full refund; a 60-day prescription change warranty, under which SVED will make a new insert if your prescription changes during that time; and a 1-year remounting warranty, under which the company will remount a detached insert for free if you cover shipping.
The only slight negative about these sunglasses is that, if you remove the lens insert, it’s a bit tricky to reinstall. The first few times I wore them, I did remove the insert in order to clean them. However, I finally realized that the rubber piece the prescription lenses are glued to is pliable enough to simply pull back each Rx lens and wipe it off after each ride. I run the entire pair of glasses under cold water to rid them of sweat before drying with a towel, then doing a finishing wipe with a microfiber glasses cloth.
The Last Word
For those of us who can’t leave home without them, it’s awfully nice to have a reasonably priced option for quality prescription sunglasses. It’s even better to have found a company that focuses first on the optics, engineering a high-quality prescription insert and then building that into a frame.
SVED’s process allows the insert to be mated with numerous frames, so the options are many for a nice pair of comfortable, lightweight, well-fitting prescription sunglasses.
John Marsh is the former editor and publisher of RBR Newsletter and RoadBikeRider.com. A rider of “less than podium” talent, he brought our readers consistently useful, informative, entertaining info that helps make them better road cyclists. That’s what we’re all about here—always have been, always will be. Click to read John’s full bio.