The eyes have it! (courtesy listofimages.com)

DrVino writes: “I’ve had to wear glasses since my teens. I’m near sighted. As I progress through my (early, still) 40’s I realize I’ll be wearing bifocals soon. I wonder if this has any bearing on my ability to use iron sights. While I’ve succumbed to optics fever on my American rifles, I am an intransigent iron sights absolutist when it comes to my AKs. Shorter sight radius be damned. Curious if readers can offer some general tips on types of glass frames and lens size/shape for the bespectacled members of the AI. Contemporary fashion leans towards what we often seen Robert wear and away from what Jerry Miculek wears. I wear similar frames to Farago’s; I noticed they tend to move and drift as I move and sweat more – leading to my line of sight not going through lenses. I have no problem buying a separate pair just for shooting, but would really like to hear a discussion of the considerations involved in that kind of purchase.”

69 Responses to Question of the Day: Oh Say Can You See?

    • Switching from glasses to contacts greatly increased my accuracy. I was quite surprised in the difference.

    • +1

      I was surprised what a difference it made. After all, I have trouble reading my watch with contacts, so I figured it’d be a problem. Of course, you never really focus on the rear sight anyway, so….

  1. Bifocals wont work when shooting rifles as you’ll be looking through the useless upper left portion of the lens if shooting right handed.
    Try some cheap reading glasses and give that a shot.

  2. Her scabbard is lacking the knife. All Asian looking fetish models armed with an UZI should also have a knife. What is this world coming too?

    • I see they got around their pledge about linking to pictures of attractive women by just putting the pictures right up on the blog. I like it.

      • My first thought too.

        If I had to choose I’d rather see bikini clad Israeli models than whatever that is.

    • You’ll have to head over to TTAK to see the knife.

      Posts here are strictly gun related. Remember how Leghorn used to throw a pic of his Sig at the end of his knife posts in order to satisfy the rule?

  3. I received a, very small, dose of shrapnel to one eye and my better than 20-20 vision suffered, that plus age have had the expected effect on my vision.
    I have installed plastic inserts in my iron sights which helps immensely, so does a rear ghost ring

    • It is obvious that iron sights were not invented for near-sighted OFWGs. If someone invents a non-optical sighting system that replaces the conventional open sights they could make a fortune.

  4. I am also nearsighted, and I find that if I am wearing glasses it is a lot harder to use iron sights because my eyes are desperately trying to change focus. Contacts make it a little easier.

  5. Left eye dominant, right handed shooter, and near-sighted. If I had a gf model as cute as the one pictured I would go blind as well.

  6. In my experience, it’s all about finding frames that fit correctly. I broke down and ordered some prescription Oaks and they sit perfectly on my face while using iron-sights. YMMV

  7. I know it’s not exactly the answer to the question asked, but after going through sniper school, the Army gave me PRK eye surgery. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Army used the best possible laser, as I got enough glare and halos at night to keep me out of flying helicopters.

    Still, the convenience of not having glasses or contact lenses is amazing. And close to ten years later, I haven’t had any other complications or vision loss. I would advise anyone considering eye surgery to get PRK over Lasik, though. Lasik leaves a weakness in your cornea that can cause serious problems if you take a blow to the face. Most people will never have an issue with it, but it was enough that the Army would not authorize Lasik for combat arms at the time.

    • Take a look at LASEK (not “LASIK”) – very similar to PRK, no cutting, no structural weakness as a result. 5 years now and no issues w/ iron sights, glare, etc.

        • I just had PRK done earlier this year, the problems with halos and whatnot are no longer an issue with the newer lasers. I have slightly better than 20/20 vision now and no side affects. I was pretty much a mole without glasses before hand. I also like knowing that a blow to my head wont screw my vision up permanently.

        • Brian, I was under the impression that LASEK was an updated version of PRK, and thus does offer the same protection of vision from blows to the head.

        • Progress is a wonderful thing, except when you find it passed you by and you can’t do it again. As good as it is for me, it sounds like it’s only become better for you guys. Highly recommend people look into the modern options, and good shooting to all.

        • Perhaps they are very similar, but I hadn’t heard of LASEK either, it get’s a little confusing. The worst part was the long recovery time, it was pretty hellish the first week and not much better that whole first month, but it’s wonderful now!

          I’m in my mid 30’s now, hoping to get a nice long run out of it, I seem to have gotten a good result from the surgery in terms of vision improvement. I had a fairly bad astigmatism beforehand. I also had “thin corneas”, so it was PRK or nothing for me.

          @ Hasdrubal… have you gone in for a consult, they might be able to fix you up with the newer tech, it’s expensive, but hard to put a price on vision, worth it imo

      • I had LASIK a little over 10 years ago, in my late 40s. Glad I did. Vastly improved my abilities with iron sights. I’m just now starting to need reading glasses for fine up close stuff, but for the most part I don’t.

    • A subject on my mind (aging eyes that never were that good).

      Are the specialist optomologists or optometrist that specialive in those of the gun? Prefer to give my $ to progun types but thinking of docs that have knowledge/experience is solving shooting probems causes by poor eyesight.

    • I had a pretty advanced version of PRK done in both eyes around 4 years ago. It’s awfully nice not to have to worry about prescription lenses when selecting sunglasses and eye protection.

      I have some flaring/halos but nothing serious. The biggest downside has been dry eyes, and while it’s been better in the last few years, I still go through times (like this week) when I have to put in eyedrops 4-6 times per day or more. This can be annoying if it happens while I’m shooting, although using slightly more viscous eyedrops first thing in the morning can help reduce the need for eyedrops later in the day.

      In the “luck of the draw” department, I’m right-handed and right-eye dominant but it’s my left eye that ended up with 20/15 vision. Beats the hell out of wearing corrective lenses, though, especially since I could never wear contact lenses.

  8. There are a few companies that make safety glasses where you can put in RX inserts. If you refuse to get contacts then you can go this route.

  9. Contacts don’t work for all of us. One solution, I haven’t tried, but have heard good things about, is Hansen’s Eagle Eye shooting glasses. http://www.hansenseagleeye.com
    It’s possible you could even find a local lens grinder (if such a thing exists anymore) to grind you a set of glasses in the same form as the Hansen’s.

    • What about these glasses is of benefit? The size/shape of the lenses? The tinting? I think I could find Rx frames in a similar shape at Walmart and similar places.

      • The closeup part of the bifocal is at the top of the lens on the sighting eye for the rifle version rather than at the bottom. For the pistol version the bifocal is moved from the bottom to the center-inside edge.

        The pictures on the web page show the bifocal areas as a slight gray area.

  10. When I got lasix, I went from extremely near sighted to 20/20 but needing reading glasses because of my age. I use lasers and optics now on everything since I don’t feel a bad guy is likely to wait for me to put on my reading glasses.

  11. I am profoundly nearsighted and have worn glasses since I began school. I currently use tri-focals. I find that because of a slightly chin-down position I use when shooting rifles that I can see the front sight post just fine through the top third of my eyeglasses (which is the distance-viewing part of the lens). I cannot see the rear sight much at all. That is one of the reason I have gone to aperture sights on every rifle I can – makes a huge difference for me (big fan of TechSights and others). Similarly, training myself to keep both eyes open has been a help as well – gets me just a tad more clarity of the front sight as well as a better view of the target. Works for me at least for plinking and basic range-shooting.

    My optometrist is a hunter and shooter and offered to build me a set of glasses for range work, but it would take a different pair for handgun vs. rifle distance. He basically said he can build me anything I need and I can then pretend I was a teenager again. Of course it costs and would not be covered by any of my insurance, so I have simply added that to my “after kids out of college” wish lists. I believe it is possible if you find the right eye doctor who is also a shooter. I just hope my guy doesn’t retire in the next 2-3 years.

  12. Just find a good optometrist, they’ll set you up with what you need. My father’s an optometrist, and set’s up a target for people to sight in using their chosen firearm as needed, and will make custom glasses just for range work. Works well enough for the Camp Perry winner he works with, along with several other shooters in the region. Most/any optometrist should be able to get you trial contacts in a variety of configurations for you to test out at the range and find what suits you best as well.

    Call around the city you live in, and tell them you want to bring in your competition “equipment” for target shooting in for proper fitment. Assuming you’re living in a free state, chances are you’ll find someone willing to accommodate you.

  13. Welcome to the club ! First a couple of things to do as you have reached this point.

    Determine if you are near or far sighted. If you’re far sighted that means the irons will be clear. So no problem. If near sighted then do the following:
    Open the safe and take out all the guns you’ll be using with irons. Rifles and pistols.
    Get a tape measure and measure the eyeball to front sight on them all. Everything says the front sight is the ONLY thing you need sharp as a tack.
    Average this out. Most likely it will be around 24 inches. This distance is important for the next step.
    Go to your eye doctor and tell him you have this insane hobby that requires a PRECISE prescription for the distance above.
    Ignore anything that he says about reading or computers or sewing.
    Tell him if he doesn’t work with you on this critical distance you will go to the local mosque and obtain a fatwa on him !
    Once you have this prescription now decide what you want. You can get contacts with this, or glasses.
    I went the glasses route simply because I worn them for a half century.
    You have the traditional stuff like Decot’s, or the polycarb lenses stuff with wrap around eye protection. Most of these don’t accommodate custom lenses. But some do. Check out the ESS Crossbow series. They are mil spec approved. These are polycarb wrap around shield shooting lenses in various tints etc, with the capability for a drop in prescription insert. BTW make sure you inserts are polycarb also. More protection is better.

  14. I am nearsighted and wear progressive lenses. (Unfortunately I can’t wear contacts.) Close up is at the bottom of the lens, and distance at the top. This isn’t an issue for rifles as long as I have a scope, but presents real difficulties for handgun shooting. With my head tilted forward, I can see the target but not the sights, and with the head upright, I can see the front sight but neither the target or the back sight with any clarity. Black sights are impossible to distinguish either right/left or up down alignment. I went to night sights on one pistol which helped a lot. If I were to try a single vision lens for pistol shooting, I would probably go with a middle distance focus, but I suspect they would not work too well beyond 10 to 15 yards.

  15. I have 2 Oakley muffler frames. One with transition and one with regular lenses. Works well for me since contact lenses dry my eyes way too much I’m constantly rewetting my eyes at the range.

  16. I’ll be wearing bifocals soon. I wonder if this has any bearing on my ability to use iron sights.

    No more that having a pegleg would bear on your ability to run the hundred meter dash.

    Get yourself a pair of multifocus shooting glasses. Your optometrist should know about them. The glasses work great and they’re also a great excuse for missing.

  17. I got prescription shooting glasses that are -specifically- for shooting. They also address my astigmatism. Can’t read with ’em or do much else but boy did my .22 silhouette scores improve!

    Just FYI, -most- eye doctors have no idea what a good set of shooting glasses entails so don’t expect every doctor to set you up right.

    This article runs you through the basics. (I am not endorsing their recommendations)
    http://www.shooting-glasses-guide.com/rx-shooting-glasses.htm

  18. I’ve had some success fitting shooters with progressives like Shamir InTouch or similar designs. I would recommend them in Trivex vs other materials. Would choose a frame with at least a 30 mm “B” measurement.

  19. As a former optician, I suggest looking into a pair of single vision glasses (cheap) for intermediate distance. Maybe just past intermediate distance, so you can keep your front sight pretty well in focus while not totally sacrificing your distance.

    As others have said, work with the OD, shop around if necessary.

  20. Wait with the picture, I forgot what we were talking about LMAO.

    Seriously, solid glasses are great, but contact lenses are better since they won’t be effected.

  21. Shooting Sports USA has had a series of articles from Dr. Norman Wong on all sorts of vision-related things, and they’re very interesting! Here’s a really good one on eye dominance and depth of field but I don’t remember which issue had one on glasses and aging eyes and such. If you look at the tabs on the bottom you’ll see “Archives” and you can browse the contents of other issues if you want to find it. His stuff is really good, and may be helpful.

    http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ssusa_201108/index.php#/20

    I also liked this “better eye dominance test” and found it worked well for me with less concern that I would subconsciously affecting the results haha http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ssusa_201302/index.php#/22

  22. Better learn to point shoot for self defense.

    For range and clays I am in the experimental stage now. I read about people using one contact set at your distant prescription and the other at your near prescription. After a short time your brain sorts it out and you can see like a teenager again, in theory. I don’t like the idea of putting anything in my eyes or having some one cut or burn my eyes, so…. As an experiment I order some wrap a round sport glasses from an online (china) glasses company. For less than $60 including shipping and better plastic (Polycarbonate) and extra coatings, I got glasses with my dominant eye focus at about front sight distance and the non dominate eye at my distant prescription. Took about 30 minutes for my brain to adjust the first time a little less each time I use them if it has been to long. I have used them for both range and clays and am fairly happy with them but need to use them more before I would say it is a solution.

    I asked my optometrist after the fact and she said the further the lens is from your eye the more trouble your brain has making the adjustment and not all people will adapt.

  23. I’m early 40’s, too. Was extremely near-sighted from around 12 yrs old on. Wore glasses then contacts for almost 30 years. I would get very annoying flares sighting through illuminated optics. Magnified optics were a little better, but not by much. Iron sights were the worst. I researched the living daylights out of all my long-term options. Had PRK laser surgery using wavefront (eyeball topology mapping) about 2 months ago, and now I can see (and shoot) better than I ever could with corrective lenses. Although I’ll have to drive my 9 year old Toyota another two years to pay for it, I would do the procedure again in a heartbeat. Wished I had done it sooner. Realizing now the difference it makes and the overall qualtiy of life improvement as a result, I would have put all of my firearms-related acquisitions on hold to pay to have it done sooner than I did.

  24. Permit me to digress a little.

    Many, if not most firearms owners keep a gun at least in part for self defense, yet they don’t prepare for the actual DGU event.

    For self defense preparation, if you haven’t already, you should be developing point shooting skills as a matter of course in addition to target practice. This is instinctive shooting to quickly engage close targets.

    Since almost all self defense gun uses will occur at close quarters, one may have little or no opportunity to sight in the target when an attack occurs. To prepare for this, all gun owners should have mastered point shooting to develop the muscle memory and experience to engage a threat without sighting in. I personally do this as a routine element of my range work, virtually every time I shoot.

    Best done using a torso target; with most handguns, you may find that initially the shots will tend to go low on target or miss low entirely. Carbines, not so much.

    Bifocals, contacts, iron sights, red dots, etc. not required for point shooting. Low light practice, if you can, is a must.

  25. I remember reading how the site is pulling away from links to Israeli models. It’s an embedded picture, not a hyperlink. And she’s definitely not Israeli, so I think it meets the letter of the promise, but maybe not the spirit. Or maybe he’s afraid of quitting cold turkey. Excellent girl, gun, glasses picture though.

    P.S. Bad trigger discipline.

  26. New commenter here, so hope this comes across correctly.

    At the age of 59 (last year) had a diagnosis of oil drop cataract in my left eye and an incipient cataract in the right eye. Being born & raised in the desert Southwest, we all deal with the prospect of cataracts way before folks get them in other parts of the US.

    My vision from age eight was nominally 20/200 (right) and 20/250 left. My dad who had flown US Navy TBF Avengers during WWII saw that I was not going to follow in his footsteps – sure put a crimp on my career plans!

    An outfit out here does some of the best optical surgery in the nation. Shameless plug – Barnett, Dulaney & Perkins are crackerjack optical specialists and Dr. Perkins recommended ICLs as part of the cataract procedure.

    One year on and I have two eyes that are 20/15. I only put on reading glasses (1.25X) if I have to thread a needle or dig a cactus thorn out of my hand. I’m likewise an AK purist – only open sights on these technologies – optics are OK on M4s. No glare, halos, night vision problems, etc.

    Observer (above) mentioned that keeping the ol’ Toyota around is not a bad option if you can get seriously good eyes. Did I mention that ICLs are good for life?

    Please consider a better (more durable/permanent) solutions than LASIK(LASEK) /PRK – just from someone that has them.

  27. Am 57 never could get contacts to reach the corrected vision,that I have with glasses.As for bi-focal s don’t use them as I am blessed enough to be able to read by just taking off my glasses.As for shooting I have no trouble with focusing,actually the last eye exam I had the Doctor told me my eyes have improved somewhat.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

  28. For anyone curious, the girl’s name is Alodia Gosienfiao, a prominent cosplayer over here in the PI.

  29. It may sound like a small issue to some but I remember how infuriating it could get at times. As a welder I had the same problem when I flipped my hood down. Lasik worked wonders for me eventually but some people can’t afford or aren’t suited for it. When I did wear glasses(most of my life) I had an extra pair for shooting and work that I put sticky backed felt on the nose pieces and where they hit my ears. It keeps them from moving around as much when you’re sweating or active. It rubbed my ears raw when I used them for extended periods but that was working actively not bench shooting. Another trick I tried was to use a breathe right strip(the nose thing for when you sleep) to keep the glasses from sliding down my nose. That didn’t work as well for me because they came loose when I sweat.

    Remember this…. The solution that will work best for you depends on the shape of your nose/ears as well as how the glasses fit you. I had to try several things before I found one that worked best. Start with the cheapest and work your way up if you need to…. Good luck.

  30. Ask your eye doctor/optician for an occupational lens. Sometimes called a “Double D”. It is essentially a bifocal with a reading section at the bottom and at the top. The top section can also be set for different ranges. Just put a shooter from my church in a pair and he’s loving them.

  31. 1. LASIK is one of the best things I ever did. If its an option for you, do it. For the price of two high-end evil black rifles, you can have vision that will change your shooting and your life. I wore glasses from age 5 to 28 and love the freedom of LASIK.

    2. Grant Cunningham wrote a great article on Personal Defense Network about using iron sights with older eyes. Check it out.

    3. A company called Mojo Sights makes some cool diopter type click sights for use on mil-surp rifles and AKs. I installed a set on a Finnish Nagant I had and they worked great (this was pre-Lasik) but don’t have experience with the AK sights.

    Hope this helps.

  32. My dad is far-sighted and wears progressives. He does well with red dots.

    I’m near-sighted and just graduated to high index lenses. Contacts work a little better, provided they fit properly. If the base curve isn’t exact, the lense will droop in my eye if I hold my lids open too long. Then, I will be looking through the edge of the lense and see double. I have to blink to put it back in place.

    I don’t like the idea of surgery, so I wear glasses and use red dots too. Seems to work.

    The smaller the shape of the lense, the smaller the sweet spot in the middle where your Rx exists.

    I used to tape my BCGs higher up on my face so I looked through the middle to qualify. It looked silly, but worked.

  33. That girl in the picture is Alodia Goshiengfiao, she’s a well-known cosplayer here in the Philippines. Other than that…..well, nothing else really.

  34. I shoot and have shot in competition for many years. I also wear bifocals.
    When I started competing, my uncorrected vision was 20/03 in both eyes. I relied on my ability to see the front sight and the target in one focus. As I aged and started wearing glasses and then bifocals, I changed eye doctors to one who was an Olympic shooter (he lets me bring in my competition guns so as to make sure the “sweet spot” in my bifocal safety glasses are in the correct place) and I started concentrating more on my mechanics, especially the trigger pull but also the draw and reloading. These changes have kept me competitive. (My eye doc also spends the extra time refracting my eyes so that my dominant eye is 20/05 with glasses, the other, unfortunately due to a blow to my head and subsequent torn retina is 20/40 corrected.)
    Good luck and keep ’em in the X.

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