By John Marsh
- Single-vision, lined bifocal and progressive lens inserts available
- Patented system attaches Rx insert to nose piece of your sunglasses frame
- Thin polycarbonate Rx lens inserts make for light-weight, more comfortable sunglasses
- Rx 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 Rx inserts to fit many frame styles (including frames you already own)
- Easy ordering process online for both Rx inserts and frame options
- Frames available from numerous name-brand makers
- Must remove detachable sunglass lenses to clean them and the Rx lenses
Cost: Rx Inserts: single-vision polycarbonate insert – $149; lined bifocal polycarbonate insert – $184; progressive polycarbonate insert – $219. Frames sold separately at varying price points.
How obtained: review sample from company
Available: company website
Rx lenses: single-vision, lined bifocal, progressive
Frames: Available from several name-brand companies, including: Oakley, Smith, Bolle, Rudy Project, Tifosi and others.
RBR Sponsor: no
Tested: NYX Classic Competition frame ($79) with progressive polycarbonate insert ($219); tested 6+ weeks
SVED Optics Offers Cost-Effective Option for Rx Cycling Sunglasses
I’ve worn cycling sunglasses for all the years I’ve been riding the road. I’m on my 6th or 7th pair, having worn expensive name-brand frames with single-vision Rx inserts, as well as a couple of pair of single-lens Rx cycling sunglasses with progressive lenses so thick on the side that they would make a Coke bottle look skinny.
In short, I’ve worn just about everything in the range of options for those of us who must wear Rx sunglasses to ride. I’m definitely in the must-wear group, with a particularly strong prescription.
The older I get, the more concerned I am with comfort in everything I wear. So while I very much appreciated the peripheral acuity afforded by those single-lens options, the overall acuity suffered somewhat, and the weight – even with ultra-light materials – dictated by the sheer size of the lenses necessary for my Rx, was a detriment to comfort.
I was happy to hear about SVED Optics, a Temecula, Calif.-based company that’s been in business for nearly 30 years and focuses exclusively on Rx lens inserts for sports sunglasses. Bob Sved, the owner and operator, developed the patented insert to be thinner, lighter, stronger and with sharper optics compared to others on the market. The insert can be attached (permanently) 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.)
The real selling point for me was SVED’s ability to make progressives in my prescription. The last time I had worn cycling sunglasses with Rx 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 $79 NYX Classic Competition frame and $219 progressive polycarbonate insert. The company’s single-vision polycarbonate insert goes for $149, and the lined bifocal polycarbonate insert for $184. 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 any of 10 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 of form, then email or fax your Rx to SVED, and send in your frame. The company makes your Rx insert, attaches it to your nose piece or frame, and then sends it to you (shipping is free).
A pair of nice Rx cycling sunglasses for less than $300 is a relative bargain (and my pair featured the most-expensive insert option). I recall paying nearly double that many years ago for my first pair – which were only single-vision.
A single-vision pair of SVED Rx sunglasses in the frame I tested (and there are others available around that same $79 price point) would only set you back about $230.
Fit and Comfort
My NYX Eyewear Classic Competition glasses (with the “sleek” lens shape and brown tortoise frame) resemble any number of stylish, wraparound cycling sunglasses on the market. What I immediately noticed when trying them on was the great fit and overall comfort – in part because of how much lighter they are than my last pair of single-lens Rx cycling sunglasses.
The temples wrap snugly – and perfectly – along the side of my head past the ear. At the temple tip, a 1-inch piece of rubber inset into the frame helps hold the frame in place on your head. Combined with the equally well-fitting nose piece, the overall effect is a pair of glasses that fits so well I seldom notice I’m wearing them. (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. It is a definite upgrade in visual acuity compared to the last pair of single-lens progressives I wore.
Part of SVED’s process is “compensating” your Rx to your specific frame. That entails ensuring the lenses are precisely crafted and sit in the perfect position to achieve your best possible vision.
While we often fixate on the look and style of the sunglasses we wear, none of that matters with Rx sunglasses if you can’t see well out of them.
SVED puts vision first by focusing on the actual Rx 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 Only Drawback
While this will differ based on the frame you purchase, the extras with the NYX Classic Competition frame I tested include a nice zippered carrying case and three extra sets of interchangeable lenses for varying conditions and personal preferences.
I nearly always ride with the dark amber lenses in place, which I prefer for almost all conditions. However, I have also used the low-light yellow illuminator lenses on a very overcast day to ramp up the brightness. You can choose from several other lenses, as well, with this frame.
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 Rx 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, in order to clean them after use, you have to remove the sunglass lenses each time and clean those separate from the insert/frame.
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 Rx sunglasses. It’s even better to have found a company that focuses first on the optics, engineering a high-quality Rx 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 Rx sunglasses.
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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.