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Sport-Specific Progressives
For a Personal Best in Cycling, Golf and Fishing

By Mark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM

Release Date: August 15, 2012

Expiration Date: July 25, 2014

Faculty/Editorial Board:

Mark Mattison-ShupnickMark Mattison-Shupnick, ABOM is currently director of education for Jobson Medical Information LLC, has more than 40 years of experience as an optician, was senior staff member of SOLA International and is a frequent lecturer and trainer.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this program, the participant should be able to:

  1. Understand how personalization now extends to the redesign of progressives for sport-specific designs.
  2. Learn the requirements of a cycling, golf and fishing/boatingdesigned progressive.
  3. Define ways to communicate the availability of sport-specific progressives.

Credit Statement:

This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). Course STWJM515-2

Athletes depend on their gear to perform to their personal best. For example, if you're a cyclist, your performance is heavily influenced by the bike maker and construction, sprocket ratios, derailleur, shifters, seat and tube, wheels, fork, pedals, shoes, jersey, arm warmers and others. Each part of the bike and the clothes you wear contribute to your safety and performance.

For cyclists who wear prescription eyewear, the right outdoor eyewear is as important as the bike or cycling gear. Nonetheless, presby-opes had to compromise their vision, potentially limiting their sport performance by wearing regular, general purpose multifocals. General purpose multifocals are designed for common daily activities such as driving, walking and working at a desk. Athletes have different visual needs for their unique sport. Oakley True Digital is the first progressive lens that further differentiates into a suite of sport-specific progressive lenses to deliver optics designed for cycling, golf and fishing.


Developed as a personalized progressive lens solution for cycling, golf and fishing, each new Oakley lens is designed with the activities and visual tasks the sport demands. Using Oakley True Digital technology to create these three designs, lenses can be optimized for the needs of each specific sport. When combined with complementary colors (sport-tuned filters), coatings and protective properties, they provide a comprehensive sport solution for the presbyopic athlete.


Sport-specific lenses are the sum of their component parts. They are made up of: 1. Optics: A progressive lens that delivers optics required for the way in which an athlete uses the lens. 2. Color: Tints and filters that boost color contrast to enhance performance in each sport's environment. 3. Coatings: Automatic back surface AR, which virtually eliminates the backside reflections that can hide important objects and affect split-second decisions. They also repel dust, water and oil for better visibility while providing longer surface durability. 4. Protection: Provides improved impact resistance and absorbs 100 percent UVA and UVB radiation, and 5. Finishing: Ensuring a close and aesthetically appealing fit, which can be enhanced by features like venting to reduce the occurrence of fogging.


You may be wondering why I would suggest a lens tuned for the athlete when a patient only sometimes plays golf or rides a bike recreationally. My answer is always the same. I can provide eyewear that is "adequate," i.e., does the job like a car that gets you there but doesn't have leather, an iPod dock, GPS or heated seats, or I can suggest products that provide excellence in eyec-are, describe the benefits and let the patient make the choice. Usually when there's a clear set of benefits that defines value, patients make better choices. Further, these patients tend to tell their friends and family about my practice, and they become loyal customers.

When talking to presbyopes and also serious cyclists, I hear that cycling glasses must be easy to use, provide vision as natural as the way a cyclist uses any of their other equipment and must not add any additional work for the rider. That's logical since any rider, serious or recreational, doesn't want to have to work to see clearly especially when riding where traffic is already present. Recommend sport-specific designed lenses with the right colors and coatings. They provide the best mix of protection and performance.


I can talk personally since I'm a cyclist and a progressive wearer. Riding a road bike typically places my chin higher than when walking or sitting when I ride leaning on the tops of the handlebars. This position is even more extreme "in the drops," with hands on the lowest portion of the bullhorn handlebars. I certainly don't use the lens like a general purpose lens while walking around. That means lens utilization is completely different.

Fig. 1 defines a variety of specific areas of use and a cyclist's bike position when viewing through that point on the lens. Above the lens midline, good distance vision is required for a range of head/chin up positions. At the midline and below, the cyclist benefits from improved clarity.


Oakley True Digital Road Cycling is designed with the cyclist's riding positions that change head/eye position and the approximate time spent there. This allows the optician to deliver a lens with a large clear distance, long intermediate, narrow near with increased mid and far peripheral clarity.

Riding zone (distance and far periphery): A clear distance portion is needed from the fitting cross to almost the top of the lens. A clear periphery is necessary lower because of the chin up riding position and awareness of riders or traffic near you, and for a good road view.

Electronic zone (near/intermediate): Finally, that fast glance at the computer requires a narrow near spot low in the lens. This design also provides a long intermediate that helps to provide a softer periphery.

Lower Periphery: In road cycling, the rider uses the entire lens to see who is pulling out or breaking away from the peloton as well as any traffic that may be of concern.


For all-day rides, it is not uncommon to be riding in and out of the shadows, through tight shady corners. As a result, dark gray is too dark. Therefore, consider Oakley OO Red Polarized as an example of a color designed for the cyclist for all-day riding. It is cycling-specific because as a dark red/ rose tone, it enhances contrast and is less dark, transmitting about 18 percent light. In the graph, note that both red and gray absorb the blue wavelengths to reduce scatter but then differ. The red transmits green through red, which enhances contrast and increases average transmission. It is not as dark as a dark gray so it works well in the shadows. Other considerations are the gray of the road, colors of cars or other riders around you, polarized for reflections off the asphalt riding early morning or at dusk. AR is automatic on the back. Add a mirror and the mirror will darken the lenses about another 10 percent for riding in brighter conditions.


As most presbyopic golfers will tell you, the reading portion (addition) of their glasses gets in the way while putting, and the peripheral blur of a progressive or the segment of a flat top obscures their vision when addressing the ball at the tee. Either the correct intermediate power is needed, or the full power of the add is in the wrong place. Also, from the tee or fairway, sighting of the flag and the pin requires clear vision while the eyes and head rotate to look from ball to flag.

A golf lens (Fig. 3), requires clear vision in a large enough distance zone vertically and horizontally to see the flag while at the tee. At the tee, the chin is down and the ball needs to be seen clearly, yet about that same distance is required when putting with the same clear vision demand. During head turn, the corresponding eye rotations through the lens near the midline require clearer vision to follow the ball when driving, with eyes and chin up. Finally, full add power is needed for scoring and reading the menu in the clubhouse.


Oakley True Digital Golf is designed with a wider distance, while increasing the availability of the intermediate. The rate of power change is stabilized for a longer intermediate. The rate of change is slow, ramping to only about half the add power, about 13 mm below the fitting cross. This is more consistent with golf's "far mid-range" requirement, i.e., seeing the ball clearly while putting or at the tee, about four to five feet away. It then finishes with a small add for scoring or reading.


For lens color to be golf-specific, consider the surrounding environment. In the environment of grass (green), sand (beige) and sky (blue to gray), and the requirement to follow a blue white ball, the contrast-enhancing colors of browns, purples and roses have been preferred. In addition, to increase depth of field, i.e., to ensure that all the twists of contour on the greens can be made visible, slightly more light transmission than a darkest gray ensures three things. First, the flattening of colors that a gray lens produces is changed for the color enhancing tone of browns and roses. Second, a smaller pupil provides increased depth of field. Third, these colors absorb the shorter blue wavelengths, which produce haze and scatter. The G30 Iridium lens is about 15 percent transmission, absorbs more blue, transmitting yellows and reds for a brown-appearing color.

Polarized lenses? There seems to be personal preference here since polarization can mask some of the shadows created by individual grass blades especially where different kinds of grasses are used based on local growing requirements. Let patients choose based on their own likes and dislikes.


Do fish get presbyopic? Fishermen/ women do. That means difficulty when tying flies, seeing fish when wading and casting placement, all when the lenses worn might add blur where blur gets in the way. Sunglasses for people boating and fishing are essential, so here's an opportunity to personalize them for the way they fish.

If one were to create a presbyope's lens for fishing, the tasks and the eye's position would help define the design. In the upper portion, for distance vision, a scan of the horizon while traveling on the water and a high clear zone for head/eye movement when casting are required. Below the fitting cross, enough clear intermediate is needed for the safe use of fishing gear or wading in a stream. Finally, a large enough near zone and the right add power is required for for all the near tasks like baiting hooks quickly and safely.


Oakley True Digital Fishing is optimized for a wide distance for a broad area of visibility and a large near for baiting while balancing the design to provide enough intermediate and overall clarity for boating tasks. By extending the length of the intermediate, peripheral clarity can be enhanced while controlling usefulness of the near.


Lenses must be polarized for water activities since reflections off shiny water surfaces become polarized and obscure vision. Reflections also increase ambient brightness so being on the water is brighter than with just the sun shining down. To reduce reflections and eliminate blinding glare to be able to see below the water surface, always use highly efficient polarizing lenses. Very light tints that are also labeled polarized typically have little polarizing efficiency. Choose the best lens color since they are different for each patient's type of fishing. Streams and flats require high contrast browns and ambers. These colors filter blue wavelengths and as a result, improve contrast and highlight details below the surface. Browns and ambers work well in overcast conditions but in full sunlight, your fisherman may prefer a darker gray lens.

Consider the variety of fishing conditions: early morning surf fishing in overcast conditions, the middle part of the day when a full sun is overhead or at dusk when details are masked by fading light. A variety of lens colors in a frame with interchangeable lenses are in order. In fact, many fishermen I spoke with had more than one lens color sunglass and used them for various conditions. For daytime deep-water fishing, the sun can be intense when reflecting off the water, especially when fishing outside all day. A dark gray, polarized and mirrored lens is recommended here. The right sun lens color improves comfort so the angler can concentrate on fishing rather than discomfort or glare.


For the next patient, ask: "What do you wear for outdoor eyewear?" The silence will cause patients to think about it and a simple answer from them of "sunglasses" allows you to then ask, "Do you like them?

What could they do better? What do you use them for outdoors?" Using these questions lets us understand how we can open the discussion for personalized and sport-specific progressives. A direct question asking, "Are you a cyclist (golfer, fishing enthusiast)?" gets to the heart of it sooner.


Fit a sport-specific lens like any other progressive, i.e., dot the pupil center and then verify the lens when the glasses are returned from the Oakley lab. The fitting cross is located at the pupil center. The lens has been designed for its optics to be fit at the pupil center. When dispensing, describe to your patient that the variety of clear zones have been tuned for their sport vision requirements. Verify distance prescription using the reconstructed power (this will be on the job ticket returned with the job from the lab). Verify the add power by the engraving.


Looking for a better way to add that elusive second pair? Stop thinking of them as seconds. Find your cyclists, golfers and fishermen/women, and they'll thank you. Tell them about the new Oakley True Digital sport-specific progressives, and how they will become part of their essential gear for the best in sport vision.