Unfocused / In Focus

I made the interesting discovery recently that I usually don’t focus my eyes when I am riding my bike.  And I concluded, oddly enough, that this is a good thing.

Several years back, I got a great pair of sunglasses, Rudy Project Rydons.  They have a clip-on insert with clear prescription lenses, and the sunglass lenses are carbon black.  As time went by I got another set of Rydon frames and a variety of interchangeable sunglass lenses with different colors, mirroring, and degrees of light-blocking power.  The yellow ones make things look brighter on cloudy days, while the black and mirrored blue ones block over 80% of the light.

The clip-ons, of course, were not bifocal, and they gave me a mild degree of problem when I wanted to look at things close-up, anything from my bike computer while riding to the valve while pumping up my tire.  The image was blurred; my eyes could not adjust completely using the single lens.

Rudy Project Rydons in blue

Rudy Project Rydons in blue

After three or four years the clip-ons developed another distracting trait: tiny uniform circles that looked like water spots began to develop near the outside edges of each lens.  Apparently the coating was bubbling.  The bubbles did not intrude on the part of the lens my eyes needed most often—the very top center—but they were distracting, especially when added to the blurring caused by beads of sweat in the summer and tears brought on by cold air in the winter.  I began to worry that my peripheral vision, already compromised by the necessarily small size of the optical lenses, would betray me some day.  And so last fall I stopped wearing the Rydons, and went back to the third most recent pair of regular glasses I had.  These were so old that they had that “aviator glasses” look of huge goggles.  Then I went to my next-to-last pair, much smaller but very uncool civilian-style lenses.

But with my annual eye exam in February came a grand inspiration.  I decided to get new lenses for the clip-ons as my second pair of glasses.  The folks at the Vienna MyEyeDr. were fabulous.  They knew just what I wanted, and a technician personally shepherded the lenses through the lab where they are ground and mounted, because she knew how important it was for them to be done just right to fit and function well.  The clips are beyond my most optimistic expectations.  Distance viewing is crisp and sharp, and close-up viewing is vastly improved.  I can even read the bike computer’s small digits on the go.

But in scanning the newly-sharp horizon I realized that it took a second or two, maybe only the length of a blink, for that horizon to snap into focus.  Then I noticed that much of the time I am riding I never focus on any specific thing for very long.  I really can’t, because I have to keep the whole vista visible in “scan” mode, my eyes picking out noteworthy details that need zeroing in on, like an upcoming stop sign, a slow walker, an unattended tyke on a tricycle veering toward the center line.  If the eyes don’t see anything they just maintain a neutral focus.  And so when I look at the far horizon, just to take in the newly leafing trees, it takes a fraction of a second for my eyes to zoom to that distance.

Yet all the while my Rydons with the new prescription clips keep me visually focused and firmly in the “cool dude” category.  Image, after all, is what counts.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2013.

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One thought on “Unfocused / In Focus

  1. I’m so glad that your eyes support your bike riding passion. You are a good observer of their focus. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.

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