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Sunglasses for the more mature pilot

These have a built-in magnifier – you can choose +1.5 +2.0 or +2.5.

This is a brilliant concept which I have used. Even just walking around and having to read bus timetables… It’s been around for a while but these are $99 whereas the UK High Street versions are about 160 quid.

And if you are flying a tight circuit to land, the magnifiers don’t interfere with your side vision. The traditional “executive bifocals” are good for B52 sized circuits only…

Whether the side pieces on the frames are thin enough to work with a headset, comfortably and without creating a hole for noise to get in, is not clear. I would think they are probably too thick unless you stick a piece of foam in there like some pilots do.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I used to wear sunglasses and near sight glasses further out on the nose, two pairs of glasses at the same time. It worked well, but doesn’t look all that intelligent

A couple of months ago I went to a real glass shop with an “eye doctor” or whatever it is called in English. Today I have continuous bifocal sunglasses that are made for my eyes. It required a couple of days getting used to, but now I only regret that I didn’t do it sooner. It cost a bit more than 160 Euros, but worth every cent.

A couple of months ago I went to a real glass shop with an “eye doctor” or whatever it is called in English.


I have prescription made RayBan Aviator sunglasses (naturally) for driving and flying. The tint is only up to certain factor (not the strongest, because they say for pilots, they wont issue the strongest), and the arms are really thin, which isnt an issue wearing a headset. Luckily I dont need bi-focals, and if I want to magnify something, I can get by just by leaning forward a bit.

@Peter – I know we havent met, but I cant imagine you at a bus stop reading a bus timetable somehow;-)

@PA: wait until you do have met – you’ll be less than ever able to imagine.

Sorry, Peter, couldn’t resist.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

Having sorted through the double negatives…. no idea why you might think that, Jan

Actually, buses are good for certain things, like taking a trip around some island where you don’t want any complications like driving on the wrong side of the road… I can read a bus timetable OK, currently, but a few more years..? A newspaper in poor light is already difficult.

The other thing which occurred to me is that the +1.5 minimum the above company offers is probably too much for a person who needs reading glasses only marginally, for reading stuff on a kneeboard (which is not exactly very close).

they say for pilots, they wont issue the strongest

I had an absolutely comical showdown with the “staff” in a big optician plane in Brighton last year. They said that since I am a pilot (I made the mistake of telling them I wanted the unusual bifocals for a certain purpose) they would not make anything other than glasses to the full prescription, either single lens or bifocals. Nothing deviating from that. They had already made some and astonishingly they preferred to refund the few hundred quid than to hand them over. So I went to a small optician in a nearby village, because anybody can make glasses, and he was very happy to take a few hundred quid off me.

I would agree that you don’t want very dark glasses for flying, but in a plane with large windows one does need some tint.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I have something like PiperArcher, custom-made bifocals with the near-vision inset a bit higher than the ‘drivers’. The ‘near’ bit covers kneeboard and instruments, distance vision the rest. In RayBan Aviator frames.

I use those ‘sun readers’ when touring on a motorcycle with GPS display on the handlebars. Its a unfortunately necessity that comes with age, but I have to say they work pretty well for me in that service. Mine come from ‘Boomers in the Know’ (on line) and cost about $15 a pair. They have a million styles, in all strengths and you can get them frameless if desired. Best to use the weakest ones that will function at the required distance (1.25 diopter is currently OK for me), that way you can focus a bit further out through the reading glass panel.

For flying, I’ve found sun readers don’t work for me, particularly in the tailwheel plane where I might crane my neck a bit in the flare to see over the nose. I also find that behind a smoked canopy I can’t see properly looking down into the cabin with any kind of sunglasses. My solution is a baseball cap to keep the sun out of my eyes, plus reading glasses with a very thin lens. I position them on my nose to get them at the right height for the particular plane and can them move them up and down slightly if needed. I look like an old man, but they don’t interfere with peripheral vision at all.

PS optometrist and ophthalmologist are the English names for the two types of eye doctor in my part of the world – I get checked by the latter every couple of years after another pilot friend caught and corrected a retina problem by doing the same. They inflated his eye with oil to stick it back where it needed to go.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 14 Oct 15:20

Costco sell glasses like the ones in Peters picture at the start of the thread, in various styles, tints and strengths. They cost a lot less than $99 for 3 pairs in a pack, I seem to recall it was about £10 per pair

Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)

Look at this site – (available only in Czech language but Google translator might help a lot). They developed their own range of optical lenses for sunglasses with different tint for different purposes. There is a section dedicated to eye protection in aviation, which describes the risks and other attributes important for a pilot and offers a solution in a form of specialized optical lenses that can be made in any optical strength and also in bi-focal, trifocal or multifocal version. The lenses can be fitted to any frames, which are comfortable and does not interfere with headset use. I bought a Ray-Ban sunglasses and had the lenses replaced with optical lenses from TLT. I am very happy with this solution. Also, TLT makes dioptrical sunglasses for all pilots from CSA, which is our national airline. I am sure that TLT can produce the lenses for anyone who brings the prescription from his optician and send them to anywhere in Europe. Any local optician can than fit the lenses to a preferred frames. I am willing to assist with the purchase or setting up initial contact with TLT if needed.

LKHK, Czech Republic

I too have I have something like PiperArcher, custom-made executive bifocals from Spec Savers with the near-vision set higher than a ‘car drivers’. Spec Savers lent me glasses with just plain glass lenses so I could mark up exactly where I wanted the dividing line to be….. so in line with the top of the instrument panel.

The ‘near’ bit covers kneeboard and instruments and charts, the distance vision the rest. Dark grey for sunny days…. we did have some, lol….and a brown tint for cloudy weather. The brown makes everything brighter. No idea how that works but it does, clever.

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