You are a discerning athlete, who sacrifices your “free” time to spend countless hours pushing the bounds of your physical abilities, fine tuning your mind and nourishing your spirit in the pursuit of becoming the best athlete possible. You make financial sacrifices along the way, investing in the best equipment available – GPS watches, bikes, shoes, personal trainers, etc. – but when it comes to your prescription eyewear do you settle for glasses that “just” do the job?
Whether you’re a cyclist training for your next criterium, a runner training for a marathon, or a snowshoer trekking in the backcountry,your vision is the last place you should sacrifice performance. After all, if you aren’t seeing at your best, you are not performing at your best. Enter Sports Optical, a custom prescription eyewear provider that offers a wide range of prescription sunglasses and lenses specifically selected and crafted for athletes and their specific needs.
Sports Optical reached out to our team team offering the opportunity to test and review a pair of their prescription athletic sunglasses and the services they provided a frame and custom prescription lenses for our review.
To get a true sense of both the products and services provided by Sports Optical, our team member placed an order just like any other customer. As part of the process, the Sports Optical team discussed our team member’s athletic endeavors, time frame, and took the appropriate prescription specifications. Within a few short weeks our field tester received the sunglasses and lenses, as promised.
Sports Optical can put Rx lenses in just about any frame, but they take time to work with the customer so that they can apply their years of experience and research to suggest what will work best for the customers particular needs.
What sets Sports Optical apart is their proprietary “Direct Lens” Technology. Exclusive only to Sports Optical, this technology allows prescription lenses to be crafted and placed directly into frames that were previously thought to be incompatible with Rx lenses. It also ensures exceptional craftsmanship for those who take their outdoor sports seriously.
As a prime example of Sports Optical’s ability to partner Rx lenses with difficult frames, our team member ordered a Rudy Project Ketyum frame coupled with a Transition Extra Active Lens. Our Gumption Gear team member also received polarized rose-copper lenses with an electric blue mirror for a pair of Oakley Fast Jacket Frames.
The Transition Extra Active Lens is specifically designed to be extra dark outdoors and provide a slight tint indoors and even activate behind a car’s windshield. And, the Polarized Rose-Copper lenses with an Electric Blue mirror provided enhanced clarity and lack of distortion while offering excellent contrast and light enhancement when under the cover of trees or clouds.
The Sports Optical website proudly displays some of the world’s best athletes who are also Sports Optical customers. After six weeks of testing, it’s easy to see why so many serious athletes trust Sports Optical. Both lenses performed flawlessly, exceeding any and all expectations held by our field tester. The stunning craftsmanship and razor sharp clarity made these prescription lenses the best he’s ever worn.
It’s one thing to purchase Rx lenses for sport glasses, it’s quite another to receive lenses that provide supreme optical quality and excellent contrast in a variety of lighting conditions. Whether running or cycling under the bright rays of the sun, hiking through wind driven rain and cold, or simply driving around town finishing the “honey-do” list – the quality of the lenses never failed to impress.
A Q&A with Sports Optical…
At Gumption Gear Review, we strive to provide our readers with in-depth, balanced and entertaining reviews of the latest outdoor and adventure lifestyle products. However, we also want to take time to learn more about the personalities, ideas and vision behind your favorite (or soon to be favorite) gear.
After our team was able to experience the results of Sports Optical lenses, and had the opportunity to work directly with the amazing Bret Hunter, we wanted to learn more about the people behind the brand. Our thanks to Sports Optical for allowing us to ask a few questions and further introducing our audience to the brand and the vision and passion behind the craft.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your motivation(s) for starting Sports Optical.
I’ve always been attracted to pushing the limits of what people can do. Growing up in upstate New York I was snowboarding when it was still a demon-sport and later I was one of those wild downhill, snow-bikers racing in the early days of the X Games. These sports redefined what society had accepted as mainstream, and I think what I’ve done with Sports Optical is a similar response. It wasn’t too long ago that sports eyewear was an ignored, unconsidered field. I had struggled with glasses since I was young and I was painfully aware of the limits we, as a culture, as an industry, as athletes, had established for our eyes. I wanted to redefine those limits.
How has being an athlete helped you to better understand the needs of your customers?
My experience as an athlete is precisely what has allowed me to develop vision solutions for my customers. It’s not just that I know what it feels like to be riding downhill at 40 mph around a curve at night, but it’s also that I’m familiar with what takes to perform at a highest level. Obviously, eyesight is crucial. But so is trust in your gear and faith in your equipment. Impaired vision is an obstacle to performance in many ways, but most powerfully in the way it destroys the confidence upon which everything else is founded. My clients need to trust my lenses, and they do.
Can you tell us what sets your athletic prescription lenses apart from others? Sure, but then I’d have to kill you. I can tell you that my lenses are fully custom and handmade to each client’s specific needs. They are not stamped out of a machine. I try to know the name, location and intended use of each of the lenses I make. Technically speaking, my lenses use proprietary formulas that adjust for the curvature of the lens, which leads to optimal peripheral vision quality and broad, fully-functional lens coverage. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people look through my lenses for the first time and say, “Wow. It’s like the whole world is suddenly wider.” Really, that same phrase.
The bottom line is that twenty years ago I invented the process to create prescription sport lenses and I’ve continued to develop it every day of my life. It’s simply a knowledge base and a well of experience that no other company in the world can match. The proof, as they say, is in the clarity of the pudding.
Please describe your exclusive direct lens technology – how you developed it and why its awesome. The idea for Direct Lens Technology came about before I went to Opticianry School, which I paid for on the GI Bill. Early on I knew I wanted to invent a solution for people like me who needed prescription eyewear in a sport lens format, but then the hard part was figuring out how to do it. What I find particularly awesome is when a 40 year-old client comes in who has worn glasses since the third grade and tells me that my lenses have allowed him to see the world in a way that feels clear for the first time in his life. It’s awesome when the owners of other optical shops get their glasses from me. It’s awesome when I make custom glasses for people who are passionate about what they do.
For your customized athletic prescription lenses that you crafted using your direct lens technology, do you also offer polarization, colored lenses and other finishes to those lenses? Our clients are active in an incredible variety of pursuits all over the world. There is no single lens for all conditions and so we absolutely offer as wide a range of lenses for each of those situations. For water and snow athletes we strongly recommend our polarized lenses, the color of which is largely a matter of personal preference. Recently, a popular choice amongst cyclists has been the Transition Extra Active lens for early morning rides that lead into day or afternoon rides which, after a stop at the local watering hole, keep you riding into the evening. We have dozens of mirrors, anti-reflective treatments, scratch-resistant coatings, and tints available. We try our best to keep everything as personal and custom as possible; not only do we perform all of our custom tintings by hand in our lab but we also can create customized lens shapes upon request.
How does the quality of your lenses compare to stock lenses?
We sometimes use a car analogy to help illustrate this point: There are many cars in the world and most of them can successfully transport you from one place to another. They are not, however, all created equal. The experience of driving a Ferrari is different from that of a Suzuki, and equally distinct is the difference between a Rolls Royce and Ferrari. It is this second distinction which is most relevant to us, and it relates to how the lenses will interact with the client based on their needs, their prescription strength, their personal sensitivities and individual preferences. It’s not just about quality, it’s about the right quality, and Sports Optical has committed itself to the pursuit of this goal.
What range of prescriptions can you accommodate? I can jam a lot of prescriptions into a lot of frames, which is exactly what I try to avoid. There are a myriad of factors that contribute to whether or not we can accomodate certain prescriptions into certain frames, and as a rule, I try to approach recommendations for each client with the mindset of: “If I were them, with their prescription, this is what I would choose because it will perform the best.” This is how we achieve the best results for our clients and, ultimately, how we make them happy. To throw out some actual numbers, my highlight reel would include some -12.00’s in Rudy Project Rydons and a -15.00 in an insert-based frame. Just last month I put a triathlete into a sweet pair of -7.50’s.
Since you are located in Denver, Colorado, please describe how the order process works for those wanting to order glasses or lenses from another state or another country.
Our clients come from all fifty states and all over the world, and it starts with an email or a phone call. I have an excellent, knowledgeable staff who will work with customers from start to finish to make sure they get the best glasses possible. When a client calls the first thing we’ll do is ask for his or her prescription. If you need frames, we have a great selection of frames from Rudy Project, Oakley, Smith, Numa Optics, Spy, all of which we can mail out for test fittings. Of course, if you already have a frame that you like we can absolutely craft lenses for that frame, assuming the prescription is compatible. Once we have a frame picked out, we will discuss lens options and, based on the client’s intended use along with his or her personal preferences, we’ll make a lens choice or two. The last step is to take down contact information and payment info, at which point we can get to work on the order.
Bifocal and progressive orders are a touch more involved than single-vision orders because they require us to send the frames out to the customer in order to mark pupilary height. This is a measurement that tells us where to set the focal change and a precise, personal measurement is needed to properly craft the lenses. For this, we typically ship the frame and a marking kit to the customer, have them mark their pupils, and then request that they return the frames to us so we can begin the lenscrafting process.
How long does custom pair of prescription lenses take to craft? Being custom and handmade, my prescription lenses take about three weeks to make, though certain mirrors and coating treatments can add some time to the process. We do have Rush Processing available, and if I somehow developed another set of a hands I could reduce the turn-around time by a few days.
Generally, how much do custom prescription lenses cost? Our standard lens, which is a polycarbonate lens with UV Block and a scratch-resistant coating, is $195. This price includes custom tinting of any color. There is an incredible amount of choices and factors that will go into lens pricing such as polarizations, transition/photochromic lenses, progressive and bifocal options, mirrors and additional coatings, etc. We are considered an out-of-network provider by insurance companies, though we do accept Flexible Spending Dollars and Heath Savings Accounts.
I assure you our prices are competitive within the industry, and considering the quality and customized nature of the product I feel we offer exceptional value. To top it off, all return customers receive 20% off of all purchases for themselves and their immediate families.
What type of warranty do you offer on custom prescription lenses and glasses? Frame warranties depend on the policy of the manufacturers themselves, which range from 1 year to Lifetime. Our lenses come with a warranty of one to two years against manufacturers defects. On a personal note, I strive to please my customers and typically do everything in my power to set them up with an eyewear solution that works great for them.
Is there anything that you think our readers should know about Sports Optical?
I want to stress the uniqueness of what we do, in terms of the actual product that reaches the hands of our customers and also how we go about delivering that product. The technical differences are easy to distinguish, most notably by the fact that we can handle prescription strengths that far exceed the range of any competitor, but the greater point is that we offer much more than a purchase. We – myself, my family, my staff, my clients – we all live the culture of what we sell, which is pretty easy in Colorado. We ski, we ride, we hike, we race cars, we hula hoop. Each of us is passionate about eyewear, but we’re also passionate about something else in our lives as well. Our customers are the same way, which is something I’m exceptionally proud of.
One final thing I’d like readers to know about Sports Optical is that we also have a division of fashion eyewear – named Exotic Eyewear – which features the same handmade, prescription lenscrafting and is committed to offering rare, fiercely artistic, limited-run eyewear from some of the coolest designers in the world.
Gumption Gear’s Bottom Line…
Whether you’re thinking about purchasing prescription sunglasses and or just another set of prescription lenses, Sports Optical should not only be your first choice, but your only choice. With expertise in crafting prescription lenses using their proprietary Direct Lens Technology that no one else can match, and customer service that excels were others falter, the next time you consider purchasing prescription eyewear, the professionals and Sports Optical deserve your consideration. Gumption Tested. Gumption Approved.
The prescription lenses in this review were crafted by Sports Optical and are available at: http://www.sportsoptical.com Price: varies depending on your individual specifications and requirements.
*Gumption Gear Review received the frames and prescription lenses from Sports Optical at no cost and receives no monetary compensation for this or any related review. The item featured was provided solely in return for our honest views and opinions.