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  • Ken Perrotte

Squint No More! Costa & Wiley X Prescription Sunglasses for All Occasions - Plus Make Own Bifocals

To see or not to see? That, is the question.

Actually, the more accurate statement might be, “To squint or not to squint…”

After some 20 years of reasonably good vision following a LASIK procedure, my old eyes started to lose their mojo, with astigmatism worsening and increasing need for more powerful reading glasses. More than a year ago, after struggling with the vision test on a driving license renewal test, I decided I better start using eyeglasses again and I got a set with “progressive” lenses, the kind where the bifocal component is built into the bottom of the lens with no discernible line.

When driving, though, it was no longer as easy as slipping on sunglasses. I needed something with a prescription. And, since I do a lot of fine work requiring solid, close-up vision – such as tying fishing knots, I wanted a prescription that could incorporate bifocals.

My go-to sunglasses over the last couple of decades are made by two companies: Costa del Mar and Wiley X. I reached out to them to check on prescription options as well as features that might serve me best under a variety of outdoor scenarios. The good news was both companies did offer prescription lenses.

So, after suffering and squinting for nearly a year, I got an updated prescription and some new sunglasses - and discovered a great new way to save money on bifocals.

Costa Tuna Alley PRO

With Costa, I opted for the new Tuna Alley PRO glasses. The frames are a matte gray/black. This model has ample lens surface and progressive lenses work well. I selected the blue mirror lenses, deciding these would be my go-to glasses for any fishing trips offshore or any other expedition with deep, reflective water and often harsh sunlight. We got the patented, new Costa 580G lenses, which enhance reds, greens and blues and filter harsh yellows and absorbs harmful high-energy blue light. The lenses, with multiple layers of glass, are touted for their clarity and resistance to scratching. Plus, they are 20% thinner and 22% lighter than most polarized glass. The mirror is encapsulated between layers of glass, making it completely scratchproof.

I needed a medium-large frame. Costa has a fitting guide on its website. The stylish, lightweight frames are made from bio-resin. They are well-designed with sweat management channels moving water away from your eyes. Eyewire drains keep water from pooling inside the frame. The comfortable rubber nose pads are adjustable and stay in place. The glasses have top hooding and side shields to reduce any glare and light infiltration.

Hannah Trotter, who works with Costa’s public relations team, said the blue mirror lens is Costa’s darkest lens option but it is a good everyday wear option, especially for people with sensitive eyes.

How are they working out? Outstanding. I love ‘em! These glasses are incredibly comfortable, fit well and deliver the advertised clarity. I believe the construction of the progressive lenses is better than that in in my shopping mall regular glasses. Or it could be a function of the design and the way the glasses seem to contour to your face, giving you a sense that you’re getting optimal edge-to-edge vision. The reading glasses/bifocal component is perfect, letting me do fine, close-in work or accurately looking at instrumentation on my truck dashboard or steering wheel.

The base price for non-prescription is $284. Costa regularly runs promotions around holidays with prices sometimes up to 50% off. Prescription promotions are also common. For example, at the time this was published, the company was running a 50% off prescription lenses through Jan. 2, 2023.

Wiley X Omega

After getting some glasses that would work well in offshore settings, I next wanted something that would be great on rivers or small water. I’ve been writing about Wiley X sunglasses since they first came on the outdoor scene during the wars in the Middle East. The glasses were innovative, featuring gasket designs that kept glare and dust out. Plus, the lenses were mil spec shatterproof.

That ANSI Z87.1+ high velocity impact* rating was the big reason why I selected the Wiley X Omega glasses for my inshore, river, small lake options. I’ve had enough snagged lures or hooks break free and come rocketing back toward the boat and my head to know that bad things came happen fast to your eyes on such water.

The Omega frame is a nice, wraparound design that wits snugly and comfortably to your face. The frames are made from Triloid nylon, which Wiley X calls “the toughest non-metal material available.” Rubber nose pads built into the frame provide slip-free comfort. I opted to spend a little more and get frames in the popular Kryptek camo pattern.

The polarized lenses are the new CAPTIVATE™ color-enhancing, glare reducing models, which block all dangerous ultraviolet and high-energy light, stuff that can permanently damage your eyes. I selected the green mirror lenses and also considered the bronze mirror option, basically looking for glasses that would do better fishing in water that might be a little murky or tannic. The green seemed to do best in simulated driving conditions and performed fine in peering into water.

To get prescription lenses and to see if I could get them in a standard bifocal (non-progressive lenses), I needed to measure by pupil distance (PD). I printed off a do-it-yourself measuring sheet from the internet and forwarded my results. The Wiley X prescription department said my PD was too narrow for a traditional line-bifocal. To get lenses with the Captivate technology and incorporate a bifocal, I would have to get progressive lenses. The Wiley X lenses have a smaller profile than the Costa’s and I’m not crazy about progressive lenses in that smaller package, so I opted for straightforward, single-vision lenses. The base price for the non-prescription sunglasses is $190. Expect prescription to more than double the base cost.

Sticktite Bifocal lenses

I did have a plan B, however, when it came to getting bifocals on those glasses. I had some inexpensive Sticktite Bifocal lenses that I could add to the Wiley X lenses to create my own bifocals. These were very simple to apply and they transformed my sunglasses into bifocals in just a few minutes.

The “reading glasses” are made from a thin, very flexible polymer and they adhere to your lenses with water. Once they’re in place, they stay in place. The company’s website has a good step-by-step tutorial on how to attach the lenses to your glasses.

The good part is that they aren’t glued or permanently bonded to your lenses. You can reposition or remove or reuse them very easily. According to the company, these reading lenses also are being applied to ski goggles, safety glasses and SCUBA masks. They’re available in 6 diopter settings, ranging from 1.25 to 3.0. A pack with a single set costs $19.99. A two-pack set is $29.99

How do they work? Well, the Wiley X glasses are extremely comfortable to wear. I like the solid edge-to-edge clarity I get from single vision versus progressive lenses, especially with this smaller lens profile. The glass is superb and you get that high-quality polarized lens performance you expect when it comes to identifying fish and structure in the water.

The Sticktite bifocal option saved me considerable money and they function fine, letting me do that fine, closeup work whenever needed. While driving or boating, I don’t notice the line where the bifocal portion of the glasses begins. In short, I’m happy!

I can’t believe I waited more than a full year to finally get prescription sunglasses, enduring lengthy trips in my truck, multiple fishing trips on bright, open water and more. Prescription sunglasses can be expensive but getting quality products that help you see better and protect your eyes is worth it. These glasses let you better enjoy the outdoors and they look great!

*ANSI Z87.1+ frames and lenses must withstand the impact of a .25" diameter steel ball. For spectacles the projectile must be traveling 150 fps and for a goggle 250 fps. Frames and lenses also must withstand the impact of a 1.1 lb. projectile dropped from a height of 50 to ensure your eyes are protected from unexpected blunt force impacts.


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