Photo: vitapix / Getty Images
Think about when you foolishly head out for a run in a pair of cheap or too-big leggings that won't stay up. You spend the whole run focusing on making sure your pants don't fall down, which turns the already-taxing experience into something even more exhausting.
That's pretty much what it's like for women who have to work out in glasses—except it's every sweat session.
We talked to dozens of women who, for whatever reason, can't just pop in contacts when it's time to work out, and the majority said the same thing: Having your glasses slip, bounce, and fog up when you're trying to get fit is super frustrating. More than that, it can affect everything from the quality of a workout to the safety of a run, or even the frequency they make it to the gym. (Related: 3 Eye Exercises You Should Do to Improve Your Eye Health)
Why Working Out In Glasses Is a PITA, According to Real Wearers
I have to plan my workouts around my eyewear.
"I have to use expensive single-use contacts because my eyes are so sensitive, so I end up wearing glasses during the week and saving contacts for the weekends. I don't like working out with them because they just slide down my sweaty face the whole time, so I normally end up planning gym sessions around when I'm going to have contacts in—which honestly just gives me one more excuse to skip the gym."—Lauren Paulauskas, 30, Brooklyn, NY
The weather makes it worse.
"Wearing glasses isn't a huge deal except on runs when it's raining, cold, or humid (so basically, everything other than perfect conditions). All of these make it hard to see clearly when the lenses get covered in water or fog up. The worst was during a twilight race a few years back: It was raining, practically a monsoon, and very humid. Between the rain, my glasses fogging up, and lights reflecting off everything, I could barely see anything. I nearly got lost a few times. It was frustrating, dealing with that in the middle of a race—I'm trying to run fast while simultaneously trying to make sure I'm running in the right direction."—Shana Westlake, 35, Rockville, MD
Burpees are off limits.
"My glasses aren't much of an issue during runs, TRX, or ballet classes, but I have to take them off to do burpees—so I honestly just don't do them anymore."—Candace Fykes, 32, Thailand (originally NJ)
They make it nearly impossible to do my favorite workout.
"I had to stop wearing contacts thanks to repeated eye infections. If it's a bouncy exercise, it's hopeless. I kickbox, and finally just had to start taking my glasses off a third of the way into my workout. Once I start really sweating, it's over. They fog up and the sweat burns my eyes."—Tara Haelle, 41, Dallas
Tips On Wearing Glasses During Exercise
Some women have found creative solutions: Caroline Gerdes of Seattle used to bobby pin her glasses to her head during ballet so they wouldn't fly off mid-turn. And when Eve Fairbanks, a 35-year-old living in Johannesburg, South Africa, wanted to learn to surf, she tied her backup glasses really tight to her head with a huge rubber band and, using strings, also to her wetsuit and hairband for plan B and C. "It was pretty low tech and I was just starting out so had bigger things to worry about than water droplets on my lenses," she says.
The majority of the glasses-wearing gals we spoke with all turned to the same solution: They just deal with glasses slipping down their face—or go blind during workouts like yoga where fuzzy sight isn't a huge risk.
Sometimes, this is actually a good thing: "Not being able to see in yoga is a way to turn my mind off and relax, so it fits well with the principles of the practice and gives my eyes a break," says Delia Harrington, 30, form Boston. But most of the ladies say it also makes new poses or flows much harder to follow.
Beyond throwing on a baseball hat for minor security or a sweatband to minimize slippage, most of the women agree working out with glasses is a frustrating inconvenience that is just part of life with poor eyesight. (Related: Do You Have Digital Eye Strain or Computer Vision Syndrome?)
But there is hope, and it comes from choosing the proper eyeglasses to wear during exercise.
How to Find the Best Glasses Frames to Work Out In
Here are a few solutions that won't break the bank and are real-person-tested to minimizing the slippery situation of sweating in glasses:
Find frames that actually fit your face. Glasses come in narrow and wide fits for a reason. "I finally caved and started shopping in the teen section, but now my glasses actually stay on my face during workouts. My advice is to buy glasses that fit your face size and shape—even if they're in the Miley Cyrus section," says Whitney Sandoval of Wichita, KS.
Opt for lighter frames and nose grips. "My cute glasses kept sliding down when I would sweat, or while looking down for hours in the OR during long surgeries," says Yasmeen Shariff, a med student in Atlanta. Switching over to a super-lightweight pair with nose pads was a game-changer for her. Consider rimless or metal frames (often lighter than plastic) and choose a pair with nose pads or nose grips, such as those from triathlete company Roka.
Grab prescription goggles and sunglasses. The most commonly reported frustrating, no-solution workout was swimming. If laps are your thing, Rx goggles might be worth the investment (and a cheap one at that—beloved Speedo Vanquisher Optical Goggles and TYR Corrective Optical Goggles are both less than $25). If you spend most of your time dry, on land, consider opting for prescription glasses for sunny bike rides or runs. (Check out our list of the best running sunglasses for bright, sunny days.)