Keith's Orienteering Story

Bifocals versus a Varifocal prescription for orienteering - Keith’s view

Keith during an orienteering competition wearing his Sunwise Austin sunglasses with bifocal clip in insertsKeith bought Sunwise Austin bifocal prescription sunglasses from Eyekit for orienteering. Below is his account of using them compared to his previous experience with varifocals:

"Orienteering is a challenging outdoor adventure sport that exercises both the mind and the body. The aim is to navigate in sequence between control points marked on a unique orienteering map and decide the best route to complete the course in the quickest time." - quote directly from the British Orienteering website

I started orienteering about four years ago in my early fifties (late starter, but thought if the kids could do it, so could I) - I was already wearing varifocals at this stage. Events attended range across local club events in NE Scotland, regional events, Scottish Orienteering League events, Scottish and British National events, and 5 or 6 day holiday events such as the Scottish 6 Days and the Lakes 5. Event formats include both traditional, i.e. forest and/or open countryside orienteering, and more recently urban orienteering. 

My event lengths range from "sprints" of around 3 km to Age Class "Long" events of 8 km to 9 km. In winter we also run night orienteering - all the challenges of forest orienteering, but in the dark running with head torches, and being in North East Scotland, often in sub-zero temperatures and sometimes in snow. 

I've worn glasses since my university days, originally to correct astigmatism (ed. astigmatism occurs due the cornea or lens not being perfectly curved or shaped. Most people who wear glasses have some degree of astigmatism), but since my early forties augmented with varifocals to cope with ageing eyesight and to be able to see close up. I have experimented briefly with contact lenses but they didn’t work for me due to the demands of the sport. Having to both be able to read a map, up close, as well as then focus on points far away. 

I have been using "old" or “a second pair" varifocals for my running but they are not that robust when treated roughly (falls, caught by branches), and by there very varifocal nature only provided a limited viewing angle where the map being held was in focus. So had to angle my head just right. 

Bifocals are a major improvement over the varifocals as there is a much larger viewing angle where the map is now in focus, making it much easier to read whilst on the run. 

As you can see, attached is a (not too flattering) picture from a recent event, where I'm wearing the Sunwise prescription glasses! Not actually looking at the map, but I had been!” There is also an added bonus with the Austin sunglasses which I only discovered during one rainy race. It was easy to flip up the shield and be able to read the fine map detail with my prescription insert without suffering the blurring effect from rain on the outer lenses associated with other non flip-up sunglasses."

If you would like more information about buying sunglasses for orienteering, just click this link.

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