Guide to Prescription Safety Glasses – Options and Recommendations

In this article, we focus on the options available, both good and bad, for shooters who wear prescription glasses.

When shooting, protecting your eyes is very important. Seeing your sights and the target and being aware of the surrounding environment are also important.

Since there is generally no immediate consequence of wearing poor and improper eye protection I often observe that many gun owners do nothing more than continue to wear their prescription glasses on the range just like they do off the range.

Why Your Standard Prescription Glasses Aren't Suitable

One of the greatest safety mistakes I witness on gun ranges I visit is the prevalence of shooters wearing very standard prescription eyewear.

Certainly, I wouldn't consider this a major safety violation. Most ranges and instructors don't either, and as such it often goes unmentioned and uncorrected.

Material Differences

Often prescription glasses are not made from the same materials as rated safety glasses. Prescription lens are often made up of different plastic and metal materials like Zyl and Monel, whereas safety glasses are made from a more durable material.

A common misconception of safety glasses is that “safety-rated” is safety-rated. There are different levels of ballistic protection and when it comes to protecting one's eyes I would think that the very minimal level of acceptable protection wouldn't be ideal.

Poor Shape / Face Coverage

Just as important a failure to point out is the lack of protection traditional prescription glasses offer from the side and other angles. Anyone who has spent a lot of time on the range can understand that often the dangerous objects safety glasses protect you from don't come at you directly but from a side or angle.

Prescription glasses generally have flat lenses and come in all sorts of different shapes in different frame designs generally built around fashion and personal preference.

Safety glasses are usually curved to provide side protection and to fill in the gaps above, below, and to all sides of your eye. This “face-fitting” design objective provides more universal protection and on more than one occasion I've seen the “shape” and “curve” of prescription glasses protect a shooter from a significant potential injury. In these instances, it has nothing to do with the quality of the lenses but with the “coverage” the glasses provide on the face.

Don't Do It – Side Shields

Many factors contribute to effective safety eyewear as discussed above. This low-cost solution certainly provides you with some side protection but often creates optical distortions which can be distracting to your peripheral vision, and they may not fit your head well enough in terms of wraparound coverage.

Further, most prescription glasses are not manufactured to high safety standards in terms of ballistic protection and just slapping some side shields on your glasses does nothing to increase the quality of the lens materials.

Side shields like these shown can be had on Amazon for less than $10 but ultimately fall short of delivering adequate protection.

In short, this is not a recommended solution. (Plus you will look like an idiot)

Great Solution #1: Prescription Safety Glasses – TacticalRX

TacticalRX, based in Denver Colorado, provides a fantastic solution if you want a pair of quality safety glasses in your prescription. This is going to require a budget north of $300 and if you want the really good stuff it will likely be more than that.

TacticalRX deserves a special call-out in my opinion as a company that not only has been serving the shooting community for decades but also the team that invented the curved prescription lens. To be clear, what I mean is that the founder of TacticalRX was the first person to ever “discover” how to make an effective curved prescription lens and continues to lead the industry in doing that better than anyone else.

They feature a good selection of different frame options to fit any head and their customer service is great. They will also make prescription lenses for your existing frames from Oakley, Wiley, and a number of other manufacturers.

I know the owner and have seen their operation, and I think you can't go wrong with TacticalRX. They do this without having crazy high prices. Check them out.

Great Solution #2: Methow Kit & RX Adapter – SSP Eyewear

SSP Eyewear, based in Washington State, has been supporting shooters and the shooting sports a long time. They have a unique solution that deserves your attention.

SSP sells the Methow kit (shown in the picture above) which is a kit that comes with 6 different lenses that are interchangeable in the included frame. These different colors give you several options for indoor and outdoor shooting.

Available to add on, or purchase after the fact is their Methow RX adapter adapter which comes with lenses in your prescription. The RX adapter clicks into the Methow frame as shown in the above picture.

By the time you purchase the full kit and adapter in your prescription, you will spend more than $500 but you will have 6 different color lenses and in the future if your prescription changes you don't need to invest the same amount of money to just get a new RX adapter in your new prescription.

One potential downside is the RX adapter won't provide as wide of a field of view (FOV) as a set of actual wraparound prescription safety glasses from TacticalRX, but it isn't dissimilar from what you are accustomed to with your normal prescription glasses.

The owner of SSP, who I also trust and count as a good friend, also told me that in some extreme circumstances (in terms of your actual prescription) they may not be able to make Methow RX lenses but they will let you know when you order, and in that very rare case SSP refers people to TacticalRX.

Hey, This Looks Expensive 🙁

Yeah good gear isn't cheap by definition. Prescription glasses aren't generally free either. Consider however that repairing eyes is much more difficult and expensive. If you lose an eye it can't be replaced.

Prescription glasses are medical devices and both the vendors I've referenced above will allow those with HSA cards to make a purchase which will be eligible for reimbursement.

Increase Your ROI by Wearing Your Glasses More Often

Wear these glasses when you go hiking, fishing, biking, and any number of other outdoor activities. I am aware of people who have lost eyes due to inadequate eye protection while mountain biking and hunting. Getting a good pair of glasses will remove your excuses to not wear eye protection during all those situations also.

About Jacob Paulsen

Jacob S. Paulsen is the President of ConcealedCarry.com. ConcealedCarry.com provides in-person and online firearm training for American gun owners. The Company is currently teaching in-person classes in 25+ states with a team of more than 55 instructors. Jacob is a NRA certified instructor & Range Safety Officer, USCCA certified instructor and training counselor, Utah BCI instructor, Affiliate instructor for Next Level Training, Graduate and certified instructor for The Law of Self Defense, and a Glock and Sig Sauer Certified Armorer. He resides in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with his wife and children.

6 Comments

  1. Charlie V. on December 20, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    I use Liberty Rec-Specs with magnetic foam eye guards when riding motorcycle and or another american company out of Yuma, Az. Fast Metal. Most all are made from 7000 series aluminum frames and high standard safety glass qualified. They have a few that wrap around like the pioneers, which I have and LOVE them for riding and everyday use.
    Liberty Rec-Specs are covered by quite a few eyeglass insurances as well if not mistaken. They are covered by my insurance, Aetna.
    Just something to pass on and maybe think about.

    Charlie V.

  2. Chris B Thayer on December 20, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    I purchased Tactical Rx glasses last year using the Gun Box Coupon from CCW. The customer service was fantastic. The completed glasses with prescription set in the upper portion for focusing on the front target, tinting, and polarized ran about $500 ~~ but well worth the safety factor, I think.

    I have worn the for shooting, hunting, motorcycle rides, and power equipment yard work ~ and on at least a couple occasions they deflected potentially hazardous debris strikes to my face.

    And again, the service Emily provided to make the entire order process work was EXCELLENT!

  3. Mei on December 23, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    How are measurements of the eye.produced in the eyewear prescri? I understand a critical measurement called the pupilary distance i(the distance between the eyes) is critical for clear vision

    • Jacob Paulsen on December 24, 2023 at 11:36 am

      I don’t know the answer fully, but I do know that on occasion TacticalRX will send out “measurement” glasses where they have the customer mark where their eyes are and send them back in so glasses can be customized for the user’s needs.

      • Bret Hunter on January 10, 2024 at 12:56 pm

        The PD, pupillary distance, is a very important measurement to get the optics in the right place. It should be professionally measured and whoever made you glasses in the past has it on file. Some places don’t like to give it out because they think they are losing a sale but if you tell them you are getting custom prescription shooting glasses which they probably don’t offer then its usually not an issue. When we send out demos it is more to 1.make sure they fit well and you like them and 2.give us a good reference for the height. The PD can be off a lot from self measuring so we do not do that.

  4. Ronald Thomas on March 2, 2024 at 1:08 pm

    I have been wearing progressive prescription safety glasses for years. Unfortunately, when I got a pair for my current prescription I discovered Medicare does not cover safety glasses at all, also due to OSHA rules the side shields currently available permanently lock in place,
    A while prior to that I found an optometrist who ordered a set similar to those made by SSP show in your article and I use them when shooting iron sighted firearms but be aware they do not work for reddot sights as both the outer lens and the prescription lens produce and image of the dot! I don’t do much shooting using a scope so can’t tell you how the double lens works with scopes.
    Thanks for the info on Tactical RX, I am due for a new prescription and will be contacting them once I get it

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