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Why 20:20 Vision is Essential for Cyclists On and Off-road

By: Mike Kiely BA (hons) - Updated: 6 Jun 2012 | comments*Discuss
Eyes Interact Safely Pathway Dual

Forget the best bike money can buy, designer Lycra, hydration packs and performance helmets – the most important equipment that a cyclist possesses are their eyes. They are the source of the decision-making process that ensures that man and machine interact effectively and safely with their surroundings, whether that be a park pathway on a spring afternoon, or a busy dual carriageway on the rush-hour journey home from work.

Whatever the environment that a cyclist finds themselves in, there is always the element of danger, given he or she is moving at a rate of speed that cuts down the reaction time needed to avoid collision. The aforementioned rush-hour scenario speaks for itself, given the close proximity of both motor vehicles and other cyclists. In the case of that idyllic springtime in the park, the relative lack of carbon monoxide doesn’t automatically mean a cyclist can simply switch off.

There are bound to be one or two other people in the saddle, along with a cross-section of pedestrian traffic, from parents with push-chairs to old-age pensioners. There is likely to be dogs around, too, let off the leash and enjoying the freedom to race around on the grass and paths. All this human and canine traffic has to monitored, and where appropriate, evasive action must be anticipated and executed whenever the need arises.

Regular Check-ups

So just how good is your eyesight? When, for example, was the last time that you visited an optician? And if you do wear glasses, are you signed up to a plan that involves regular check-ups to take account of any potential changes in your prescription? If the answer to any of the above is nothing more positive than a shrug of shoulders, then it is essential to book an appointment as soon as possible – otherwise you won’t simply be putting your own life at risk, but also the lives of others that will cross your path as you travel on two wheels.

The investment in your eyesight may mean you have to forgo more indulgent accessories for yourself or your bike, but you will reap a huge dividend in helping ensure you get home safe and sound.


If you haven’t got 20:20 and have a lens or frames prescription, always ensure that you utilise it whenever you are out and about. Don’t think a quick pedal down to the shops means you don’t have to slip in a pair of contacts or run upstairs to find your glasses.

And on days when the sun is shining, make sure you have invested in a good pair of sunglasses to wear in conjunction with your contacts or with prescription lenses fitted by your regular optician; otherwise your vision will be compromised. This can be particularly acute during winter months when the relatively low position of the sun in the sky means it may be shining right into your field of vision.

The good news for cyclists who can’t resist a designer label is that there is more than enough expensive eyewear to attract the fashion-conscious. Just remember when you are purchasing that it is essential your eyesight is every bit as sharp as your shades.

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