DEC 20

How a Poor Choice of Motorcycle Riding Glasses Increases Your Accident Risk

When it comes to motorcycle safety, helmets get a lot of attention. This is for a good reason. The human skull is easily injured by impacts suffered in motorcycling accidents. On the other hand, motorcycle riding glasses don’t get the same attention as helmets. Part of this is that many people think of riding glasses as being little more than sunglasses — an accessory that increases comfort and makes them look cool.

Experienced bikers know that motorcycle riding glasses are safety devices much like helmets. However, unlike helmets, which protect your head during an accident, riding glasses are supposed to prevent accidents as well as offer eye protection during an accident. The eyes are vulnerable to a lot of things encountered on the road. They are far more vulnerable than an unprotected head. In fact, several states that don’t require helmets mandate the use of eye protection. The eyes are so sensitive, that even a slight injury or irritation is enough to seriously compromise vision.

This extreme vulnerability means that a poor choice of motorcycle riding glasses, or wearing no eye protection at all, increases your accident risk. Here is how this happens:

Sun Glare

Sun glare can be blinding. It makes potholes, rocks, and other road debris hard to see. Glare can prevent you from seeing the braking lights of the cars ahead of you. Some of the worst glare occurs when the sun is low in the sky. Its light reflects off car windows, water puddles, and wet pavement. Polarized motorcycle riding glasses are one of the most effective ways of cutting through glare.

If you have a windshield or helmet visor, make sure your polarized glasses don’t interact with these and cause visual distortion. Check that your polarized glasses don’t distort any LED instrumentation on your bike. Note that polarized glasses don’t provide UV protection. However, when they’re made from polycarbonate or SR-91, they block UV radiation and provide excellent impact resistance. Always check the labeling for UV protection.

Impact from Bugs and Road Debris

Road debris impact with unprotected eyes can cause severe injury. Even bug collisions at highway speeds can do a lot of damage. Unless you can get off the road quickly when this happens, the pain and your compromised vision can easily cause an accident. Motorcycle riding glasses from reputable brands such as Wiley x, will at minimum, have impact resistant lenses and have frames that won’t disintegrate under an impact.


Many people understand how distraction from texting or using a mobile phone while riding or driving can cause accidents. Distraction comes in many forms, and anything that takes your mind off your riding increases your risk of an accident. This includes the discomfort and pain from a bad choice of motorcycle riding glasses.

For example, if you select glasses with a poor fit, then you can’t focus on the road when you’re constantly readjusting your glasses. A bad fit or glasses lacking sufficient eye coverage will allow dust into your eyes and cause distracting irritation or pain. Glasses temples with the wrong length or shape can also cause distracting discomfort.


Fatigue increases accident risk because it reduces mental alertness. Without an alert mind, you can’t anticipate trouble or react quickly to traffic events. Lack of sleep isn’t the only cause of fatigue. Hours of wind exposure to the eyes while riding at highway speeds will also make you feel tired. If you lack a good windshield or helmet visor, a well designed pair of motorcycle riding glasses is the next best thing. Although glare interferes with your ability to see clearly (as mentioned previously), hours of exposure also induce fatigue.

Poor Night Vision

The poor lighting conditions of night riding reduce your peripheral vision, depth perception, and color perception. Your field of view is limited to wherever there is light. These problems and the fact that others can’t see you well, are why night riding is dangerous. The danger is only worse when wearing poor motorcycle riding glasses.

Night riders who mistakenly use tinted glasses of any color, including yellow, will find the road more difficult to see. This is because tinted glasses block out light, which is undesirable when there’s little available light in the first place. Clear glasses are best for night riding.

Poor night vision can also happen when there is too much concentrated light shining into your eyes. This concentrated light, otherwise called night glare, has a number of causes. Bright headlights of oncoming traffic can only be avoided by not looking directly at them. Look at the solid white line marking the right side of your lane instead. Another cause of glare is the star burst and halo effects produced when light reflects within the lenses of your glasses. An AR or anti-reflective coating on your lenses will eliminate this problem.

Poor Visual Acuity

Without sharp vision, important details such as potholes, grease slicks, or the brake lights of the car in front are easily missed. You also won’t spot vehicles closing in on your periphery. How do you lose your visual acuity when riding? When your poor fitting prescription riding glasses drop off. The higher your prescription level, the worse the consequences. Motorcyclists have had accidents when their glasses or even contacts slipped off at the wrong moment. If you’re rounding a corner and you don’t see those wet leaves, you will quickly find yourself on the pavement.

Poor riding glasses design with super thick frames that block your peripheral vision can also have disastrous consequences. Finally, if your glasses allow your eyes to dry out from wind exposure, your vision can become blurred, which invites an accident.

As mentioned before, your riding glasses are much more than a pair of sunglasses. They are a safety device just like your helmet. Unlike a helmet, they’re your first line of defense against injury from an accident because they prevent them in the first place. Ride safely by getting a quality pair of motorcycle riding glasses that have the options best suited for your kind of riding.

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