Prescription cycling specs - Update!

by notfastenough   January 20, 2012  

Hi all,
A while ago I posted a topic discussing cycling specs options for people with strong corrective prescriptions. The point was reached where I had found something on the Bolle website about a new product called B-thinactive, but was trying to see them in the flesh.

http://www.bolle-europe.co.uk/technology/prescription/

Anyway, I found an optician with a good relationship with Bolle, and they arranged a meeting between them, the Bolle rep and myself. I went down this morning and we spent an hour rifling through a four-foot tall case full of samples.

Long story short, the B-thinactive thing is amazing. They can get close to -10.0 prescription, so mine at -6.5 plus -1.25 astigmatism is easy. They are still really light as well. Apparently, the innovation isn't the hardware, the clever bit is a software algorithm that engineers the lens by taking the curved blank lens and machining the optics to provide corrective vision for a normal coverage area on the lens, but then tapering down to no prescription on the edges (ie the wraparound bit). It's weird. A standard index lens in my prescription would be 20mm thick at a wraparound edge, which obviously isn't practical. This stuff comes out at 6 or 7mm on the edge for me. You can't see a distorted area on the lens either. (I checked for you Cat1commuter!)

There's a big choice of frames, lenses, colours etc, but I'm looking at the Helix design, which is the white/orange pair on the site referenced above. A high-contrast brown-base lens seemed to work best for me, with either black or grey frames. Polycarbonate with anti-glare, no polarisation or photochromic finish, looking at £254. I'm just waiting on a grey frame sample before ordering.

I still might fancy polarisation, but at an extra £130, it's not just an impulse add-on, so I'm having a think first. Do anyone else have any opinion on the value of polarised lenses?

19 user comments

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Sounds good, I'm thankful I don't need a higher prescription yet!

Polarisation is a marmite thing. Works really well, make a big difference if you get only a light shading like Oakley VR30 for example, so much light let through on an average day they work but on a very sunny day you'd appreciate the polar. Polar works on any day there is strong contrasting light like after it rains or sunset/dusk. It's the contrast not light level.

Some hate it though as it hides puddles as they no longer reflect light if you wear polarised lenses. Bit more susceptible to wear and tear though, can scratch easier and need caring for.

posted by Farky [174 posts]
21st January 2012 - 0:15

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Thanks for the update. Sounds very promising. I'll visit my optician to see if they'll look at them.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1301 posts]
23rd January 2012 - 16:28

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My optician does Bollé. They hadn't heard of B-Thin when I visited them on Saturday, but they were very interested. They've been in touch with Bollé today, and can supply.

It's a pity that Bollé can't make the "Draft" model (their most wrap-around) in B-Thin, so I'll be looking at the Helix too.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1301 posts]
30th January 2012 - 15:08

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Thanks Farky - think ill give polarisation a swerve, since I don't like the sound of invisible puddles hiding invisible potholes! The Bolle chap did concede that if it was his cash, he would just take them as they are, as well.

Good news that cat1 - although based on the sets I tried, I would recommend asking them to get samples in before ordering. So many of them just didn't feel quite right for my head. Indeed, I will be buying a pair that are not the best looking of the choices, in my opinion, simply because they were a good fit. Function over form and all that.

Then again, maybe you have one of those heads that just fits specs!

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
30th January 2012 - 16:03

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notfastenough wrote:
Thanks Farky - think ill give polarisation a swerve, since I don't like the sound of invisible puddles hiding invisible potholes! The Bolle chap did concede that if it was his cash, he would just take them as they are, as well.

Just to be clear, polarisation doesn't make what sits beneath the puddle invisible. Polarisation cuts out reflections - meaning that instead of seeing the surface of the puddle because of the light reflected off it, you see through the surface (meaning you can actually see what is below the puddle, if the water is clear enough). It might actually help you see the potholes you're trying to avoid!

posted by step-hent [638 posts]
30th January 2012 - 16:17

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Oakley, and Adidas also does prescription lenses..

As of polarisation there is a couple of things to consider:

-People with light eyecolours are more sensetive to reflections (If you have brown eyes, you won't feel the effect of P. lenses as much as people with say, light blue eyes)
- NEVER use P lenses when it might be ice on the road; you can't see it.

Personally I find it more important to have a good dark lens, than having a P. lens. Unless you're planning to use them a lot at sea its not really THAT helpful in my opinion.

The difference between 20£ sunglasses and 100£ is usually in the quality of the optics, and as long as you're in the high end area you should be pretty happy with the optical feel of the product.

Scratch resistance has nothing to do with the polarisation of the lens. That has to do with the type of lens (organic or synthetic) and/or coating og the lens. For example RayBan g17 lenses are actually glass (organic), but most other sunglasses and glasses have synthetic (plastic) lenses, though some come with coatings, such as antireflection, or antiscratch.

I'm not waffling, I worked as a shop assistant in an optician for the last 4 summers Tongue

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posted by seabass89 [235 posts]
30th January 2012 - 19:33

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Thanks Seabass. Think I will be avoiding polarisation for these then.

Various manufacturers do indeed offer prescription lenses, but Bolle are the only ones going higher than -5ish. My choices are Bolle or... Bolle.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
31st January 2012 - 11:37

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notfastenough wrote:
Good news that cat1 - although based on the sets I tried, I would recommend asking them to get samples in before ordering. So many of them just didn't feel quite right for my head. Indeed, I will be buying a pair that are not the best looking of the choices, in my opinion, simply because they were a good fit. Function over form and all that.

Then again, maybe you have one of those heads that just fits specs!

Oh, they're getting samples for me (Helix and Tempest). No way I'd order a £300 pair of glasses without trying the fit!

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1301 posts]
31st January 2012 - 11:54

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Just wondering if either of you went ahead and purchased a pair of prescription Bolles and, if so, how you have got on with them? I have asked an optician to order me a couple of samples to look at.

Which frames and lenses did you go for?

posted by pjay [220 posts]
9th September 2012 - 18:07

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Indeed I did. I opted for the Bounty frames (ref 11534) and non-polarised lenses in the rose gun finish.

I was warned when I first enquired that they may yet have the odd teething issue with ordering, and so it proved. First they arrived at the optician and I didn't even get to see them because they clearly weren't right, and were sent straight back. Then they arrived, I was told they were right, but they clearly weren't. The optician disagreed and was veering towards the conclusion that it wasn't going to happen at all. I ended up dealing directly with the fella from the Bushnells (Bolle's UK distributor) who was very good, agreed they were wrong, and promptly re-ordered with a free-of-charge anti-reflective glazing thrown in. He also mentioned that between a UK distie, French company and German Optical lab, we nearly created an international incident because they were all blaming each other! Big Grin The rep assured me that approx 500 other pairs had been made without the same issues, so you'll probably be fine.

Anyway, I finally received them in late May. They're awesome, no question. Seems my eyes/brain needed time to adjust to the curvature in the lens, as I tried them driving and ended up with a mild headache at first. I'm used to them now though and can switch between my normal specs and these no problem. They feel a lot more secure on my head, leaving me wondering how I ever thought it wise to hurtle down a descent with my normal pair on.

The innovation that allows Bolle to produce these to such a high prescription is a software algorithm that calculates slightly different lens thickness for each different bit of the lens while cutting the lens in real time - Bolle have exclusive rights to this software, but apparently only for 12 months, so you could order from these guys or see if Oakley etc provide a similar offering next year.

Good luck!

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
10th September 2012 - 10:20

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I couldn't order the Bollés I wanted. The problem wasn't my prescription, but the fact that my eyes are too close together! The centre of each lens has to be lined up with your gaze, and the cylindrical blanks (80 mm diameter, I think) which the lenses are cut from ruled out all of the cycling styles because they wouldn't reach the outside edge of the frame.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1301 posts]
10th September 2012 - 12:15

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The optician I visited yesterday called today to say that Bollé have a new rep who won't now send out samples to opticians, so I am left with trying to find a bike shop who stocks the non-prescription versions to try on. Not sure I am going to bother.

posted by pjay [220 posts]
10th September 2012 - 15:25

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PJay I personally would ask at another opticians being the cynical sod that I am, so many shop assistants and even managers just give b.s. instead of being honest (not stocking them anymore etc)
My prescription wrap arounds came from D&A £250 approx with reactor light shading so much better than standard glasses.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [484 posts]
10th September 2012 - 16:39

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If someone can point me in the direction of a Central London optician that has Bolle cycling frames that I can try on I'd gladly try them. The styles I'm interested in are Helix and Draft. Bolle's website is pretty useless in this regard and they haven't replied to my email.

notfastenough wrote:
Indeed I did. I opted for the Bounty frames (ref 11534) and non-polarised lenses in the rose gun finish.

I was hoping for something from this page (Helix or Draft):

http://www.bolle-europe.co.uk/products/search#57,49,9;

posted by pjay [220 posts]
10th September 2012 - 18:06

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Mind me asking what your prescription is? I recall that draft could only be done to minus 5 because the way the frame cuts into the lens limits the lens thickness. I can't remember why I steered away from the helix. In the end, I went with the ones that gave my face the best coverage.

Re the stocking, I rang several opticians in the local area - all indies, no big chains. I received a variety of answers which ranged from the downright uninterested (similar to your experience) to the guys I did use, because they wanted the experience in this new tech and were willing to set up a meeting on their premises between them, me and the distie. I'd advise ringing round.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
10th September 2012 - 21:21

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I'm around minus 5.5.

I rang Bolle and left a message, but I'm not holding my breath. They don't seem very keen to sell their product. I think I might leave it and see if Oakley increase the range of prescriptions they can cover next year.

posted by pjay [220 posts]
11th September 2012 - 9:24

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Bolle have replied to my email. Here's the official word on the matter:

'I am sorry to inform you but the prescription programme that allows us to glaze the helix has been suspended at present until the 1st Jan.
This is to improve the service to our opticians by changing Labs. The best stores in London to contact ref Bolle is Optix  at Broadgate.'

Looks like there are teething problems with this technology.

posted by pjay [220 posts]
14th September 2012 - 9:08

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Ugh, don't like the sound of that - I'm going to need a clear pair for riding in darkness within the next month or so. I was thinking of going down to the opticians to order.

I've emailed the distributor directly for a clarification.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
14th September 2012 - 9:53

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Reply from my contact at the distributor:

"The rumour mill is indeed correct. The problems we faced were never with the lenses themselves, simply the way they were cut and fitted to the frame. We have now invested in 3 state of the art machines that our lens manufacturing partner is currently installing, along with dedicated customer support for better feedback and communication. The new service is on target for launching Jan 2013, which means a 3 month wait, but a much faster service. Your only option at the minute is using an insert behind a non-RX lens (Bolle Vortex)."

Bugger. Going back to my normal specs for after dark just in time for the roads to fill with grit and rubbish doesn't sound great.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
15th September 2012 - 20:17

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