You lace up your running shoes and expect to have a focused run where you can relax and find your stride.
If you’re a runner who doesn’t have 20/20 vision, you also have to decide whether to run with your glasses or not. Not wearing your glasses could mean that you struggle to see uneven ground or read signs. But running with your glasses can be annoying if they skip down your nose or get fogged up. Doubly so if you’re running with a face covering. This is a distraction that you can do without!
While some runners turn their glasses in for contact lenses, there are runners who may not be able to wear contact lenses. They may find that their eyes are too dry or the shape of their eye makes it difficult to get properly fitting contacts.
Running in glasses may be a bit inconvenient. If you’re wondering whether you should run with your glasses, we’re weighing up the pros and cons to help you decide.
Pros of Running with Glasses
Avoid Running Obstacles
When you run with glasses, they don’t just help you see better, further, and in more detail. They actually reduce your risk of injury. You won’t have to worry about spraining your ankle because you didn’t see the curb, or run into a street sign accidentally.
Most runners have taken a tumble at least once in their running lives. And it is never because of something large – we don’t run into trees and boulders. It’s always something the size of your thumb that you don’t see – a rock, a root, an uneven crack in the sidewalk. Running with less than perfect vision greatly increases the likelihood of missing that crack in the sidewalk that will put you rubber-side-up.
If you frequently wear glasses in your day-to-day life, it’s easier to just wear glasses when you run. You may own and occasionally wear contact lenses, but if you find them to be a hassle, then wearing glasses while you run is much more convenient.
Glasses—especially prescription glasses—have photochromic lenses that provide UV protection. This can reduce the risk of cataracts, pinguecula or corneal sunburn—photokeratitis—and wrinkles. While wrinkles can add to your charm, UV rays can cause irreversible damage to the eye, which could be more of a challenge to live with.
Wind and Dust Protection
Your eyes are more protected from wind, dust particles, and debris when wearing glasses. If you get a speck of dust in your eye when you’re wearing contacts, it can work its way under the lens. If you’re out on trails, glasses also protect your eyes from the occasional stray branch that you forget to duck.
When you’re running, you may not be able to clean your contacts thoroughly, which increases your risk of infection.
Runners may find that their eyes feel dry and irritated after a run, as contact lenses reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the eye, whereas glasses allow for air circulation.
Better for Sensitive Eyes
Glasses are healthier for you, as you won’t have to touch your eyes as much, which reduces the chances of getting an infection.
If you have sensitive eyes, glasses won’t aggravate the eye the way contact lenses could.
Cons of Running with Glasses
Some runners may be self-conscious about running with their glasses, as they may think it’s not attractive or that it makes them look quirky.
Runners then also have to contend with glasses that bounce up and down or move while they run. If your glasses don’t fit properly, there is a non-zero chance of them slipping or bouncing off your face at some point. Some glasses are designed for the rigors of working out, but most casualwear glasses aren’t.
Sweat and Fogging
If you do have glasses that provide a snug fit, then you may be familiar with the beads of sweat that will inevitably start rolling down your lenses after a couple miles. You have to remove your glasses and wipe away the sweat with you shirt. This becomes a messier and messier proposition as the miles tick by. Your wicking tech shirt is meant to keep your torso dry, not your eyewear.
Then runners still have to contend with humidity and their own body temperature, which can cause their glasses to fog up. This then has them removing the glasses to clean the lenses again. With the sweaty shirt.
When you run with glasses at night, bright lights can create a variety of optical anomalies in your lenses. Street lamps, car headlights, even your own headlamp can make clear vision difficult. The more light sources around, the worse the effect can get. Add in a little bit of lens fogging, and the quality of vision can deteriorate quickly.
This greatly increases your chance of getting hurt. If you can see through the fogginess and haloing, you will have a hard time negotiating your route and keeping an eye out for hazards.
Tips for Wearing Glasses While Running
There are a few things you can do that will help make running with glasses more comfortable and allow you to focus on your run.
You can get a pair of prescription glasses that have light, stylish frames and that will be contoured to have a snug fit on the bridge of your nose. The lenses can be coated with anti-scratch, anti-fogging, anti-reflective or UV protection coatings.
Speak to your optometrist so that your glasses best fit your needs and eliminate the need for you to wipe your glasses every few miles.
If you already have glasses and you’re not ready to get a new pair, look for an anti-fogging spray you can apply to your glasses. Try one of the following anti-fog sprays:
- Fog Gone Anti-Fog Spray
- Z Clear Lens Cleaner and Anti-Fog
- Optix 55 Anti Fog Treatment for Anti-Reflective Lenses
- FogAway Anti-Fog Spray for Glasses
- Jys & Tech Easy Nano Anti-Fog Cloth
To prevent your glasses from moving while you run, slide silicone anti-slip ear hooks onto the arms, or use a sports adjustable strap.
You could also use a bandana in summer and a beanie in winter to help keep your glasses in place.
Tips for Running Without Glasses or Contacts
Running without glasses or contacts comes with its own risks. It’s always best to pick a smooth route that you know very well.
You could always head down to a nearby track—indoor or outdoor—that you’re familiar with. Tracks are predictable, and usually are obstacle-free.
If you want to run on the asphalt, choose streets where traffic may not be allowed, or head to your local park if it has a path that you’re familiar with.
You could also run with a running buddy, who can help guide you around obstacles or potential hazards. This would be one of the safest options, next to running on a treadmill in the comfort of your own home.
Alternatives to Glasses
Depending on the level of your vision, there are a few alternatives that you may want to try. You could try using contact lenses. Surgery may also be an option, and as technology advances, more options become available, like LASIK surgery or Implantable Contact Lenses.
Implantable Contact Lenses are similar to normal contact lenses, but instead of being on the surface of the eye; they’re surgically inserted into the eye between the natural lens and iris.
These lenses remain in your eye for a longer period, and they don’t irritate your eye like contact lenses that sit on the surface of the eye.