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BZ Optics PHO Bi-focal Photochromic Glasses



A great choice if you need bifocal powers when out sporting in the light or dark

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The BZ Optics PHO Fluro Yellow Frame with Photochromic Bi Focal Lens is a fully featured item of sports eyewear, for people who need bi-focal assistance in all conditions from darkness to bright glare. For £99.99 with interchangeable lenses, they're a pretty good pair of goggles in their own right.

Being one of challenged ocular capacity, I can wholeheartedly sympathise with the founders of BZ Optics: two Australian sportsmen who found with advancing years their ability to read various bits of kit – bike computers, phones, GPS units, watches, maps – was decreasing. Add into the mix the need to operate safely on road or water in conditions ranging from pre-dawn dark to bright Australian sunshine (British readers: see here) and the sporting eyewear market wasn't delivering. You could have bi-focal lenses, or photochromic lenses, or changeable lenses. But not all at once.

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With a business history in eyewear and multiple sporting disciplines, the pair set out to create the solution. A failed Kickstarter later, they decided to self-fund the project, displaying admirable passion for a product that the growing number of mature cyclists would inevitably benefit from. What they realised was, this problem of trying to see small things in either dark or bright conditions was not limited to cycling – motorcyclists, runners, golfers, sailors, hikers and many others could benefit from light, tough, adaptive lenses with the correct prescription for close-up viewing.

Safety first

At first glance the PHOs look like any other pair of cycling glasses, albeit clear ones if seen indoors the first time. Clear lenses always run the risk of resembling safety specs, and in this regard the PHOs aren't wide of the mark – particularly in fluorescent yellow ('graphite' and white are also available).

The near-ubiquitous design of a single top frame facilitates the changing of lenses, done via a nifty wee grey clip at the temple that pivots out to unlock things. I must confess I wore the PHOs for a month before realising the lenses could be removed, the mechanism is so well hidden and its hold on the lens so secure. Additional lenses are available in photochromic non-prescription and with a 'blue mirror' finish, and of course as a replacement should you damage the original lens. The 'Reader' lens with the bifocal bit is available in +1.5, +2 and +2.5 powers.

The bearable lightness of seeing

The photochromic quality is half the show here, and having owned such glasses in the past I was prepared for disappointment. The lenses transition from Category 0 (clear) to Category 2 (suited for bright sunlight), and while the change isn't fast, it's perfectly adequate. I never found myself squinting or missing detail on shaded roads, the speed of lens change always seemed to be just right.

The lens darkness under bright sunshine isn't as much as you'd expect – certainly lighter than most sunglasses. It's now got me thinking that normal sunglasses are typically too dark, certainly for activities like cycling where the ability to pick out a hazard on a shadowed road can make the difference between an event-free ride and a trip to A&E or, worse, the wheelsmith.

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The positioning of the bifocal bit is perfect for cycling. On first donning them you might think it's too high, then once on the bike either on the tops or in the drops, you realise the bottom third of your field of vision is wasted anyway (something Oakley has made a big fuss of with its Cavendish-approved 'sprinter's glasses'). The high frame placement maintains a clear field of vision upwards, and they sweep back far enough that it's a real effort to even spot the hinges.

The gap between lens and cheekbone (on me anyway) was just right for protection and ventilation – I didn't once encounter any fogging. The non-slip arms and adjustable nosepiece did the job of keeping things fixed in place under all conditions of perspiration.

Conditions: changeable

Out for long or short rides, the PHOs worked, protecting my eyes from glare, UV rays, rain, hail (once), insects and grit, while letting me see what I was actually riding over as the lighting conditions and environment changed. They just work.

Their RRP of £99.99 isn't loose change, and yes, you can buy far, far cheaper glasses that will do the basic cycling job. I recently completed a 300km day ride in a pair of £2.99 Aldi specials that in three years I have failed to break, scratch or lose – the inverse curse of a £299 pair in my bank-balance-chastening experience.

However, if you need the extra magnification to check information or operate sporting kit (and read the post-ride café menu), if you need the safety, comfort and protection that a lens able to go from clear to dark and back affords, and if you need these features wrapped up in a lightweight, stay-put package that can fit under a helmet, the BZ Optics PHO might well be the pair you've been looking for. Literally.


A great choice if you need bifocal powers when out sporting in the light or dark test report

Make and model: BZ Optics PHO Bi-focal Photochromic Glasses

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

These are for cyclists and sports uses, for those needing magnification as well as multi-brightness performance in a single light, sporty package.

BZ Optics says:

PHO Fluro Yellow Frame with Photochromic Bi Focal Lens

Lens will change from clear to dark with available light.

Lightweight flexible frame with dual moulded non slip temples.

Adjustable non slip nose piece for comfort and fit making them ideal for a wide range of face shapes and sizes.

Small clips which make changing lenses effortless.

Fluro Yellow colourway comes with a grey nose piece, lens clips and dual moulded tips.

All pairs supplied with a hard case and micro fibre cleaning cloth.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

BZ Optics says:

The world's first bi focal photochromic sunglasses, featuring high impact UV activated photochromic lenses which transition from clear (Cat 0) in low or no light to dark (Cat 2) in full sun.

The bi focal magnification which is moulded discretely into the rear of the lens is available in +1.50, +2.00 and +2.50 powers.

The TR90 super lightweight hybrid frame has dual moulded non slip flexible temples ideal for wearing under open or full face helmets. The adjustable non slip nose piece ensures optimum fit and comfort for all face shapes.


Lightweight flexible frame with dual moulded non slip temples.

Adjustable non slip nose piece for comfort and fit making them ideal for a wide range of face shapes and sizes.

Small clips which make changing lenses effortless.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

They feel solidy made.

Rate the product for performance:

The change of lens was bang-on for me.

Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:

For £100 it's a cracking combo. I don't know of anyone else doing this.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well indeed.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The lens locking mechanism. It's nifty.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The look, but that's a minor niggle compared with the overall package frequently mocked from the house of a Sunday morning.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

The only thing I can really mark the PHOs down on is style, and that's subjective. They look like what they are. If you value utility over image and substance over style, this should not matter.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 183cm  Weight: 72kg

I usually ride: Merida Ride 5000 Disc  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, club rides, general fitness riding, mountain biking, Dutch bike pootling

Living in the Highlands, Mike is constantly finding innovative and usually cold/wet ways to accelerate the degradation of cycling kit. At his happiest in a warm workshop holding an anodised tool of high repute, Mike's been taking bikes apart and (mostly) putting them back together for forty years. With a day job in global IT (he's not completely sure what that means either) and having run a boutique cycle service business on the side for a decade, bikes are his escape into the practical and life-changing for his customers.

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Trilby | 3 years ago

I like the look of these and will investigate further next time I'm shopping for glasses. 

For now I'm getting on well with some clear bifocals from Amazon. When I bought them, I think they were advertised as safety glasses, but now are showing as cycling glasses. They aren't perfect, I needed to threadlock the nose bridge screw in place after a couple of weeks. Since then, I've been impressed by their resistance to scratches and smudges. If you don't need tinted glasses, they are a good option.

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fenix | 3 years ago

Wiggle sell little stick on lenses that you can use in sunglasses or swimming goggles and transfer from one to the other time and time again. Makes reading my computer so much better. And it's under £20.

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