Ask Cavers: Do You Wear Eye Glasses Underground?

April 24, 2013
Broken pair of glasses.

Broken pair of glasses. Photo by puzzlescript/flickr

As many cavers who wear eye glasses will tell you, caving with spectacles can be a pain.

From the annoyance/safety issue of constantly being foggy to expensive repairs of scratched and broken lenses, most glasses don’t fare well in the harsh underground environment.

For this week’s Ask Cavers question we want to hear your tips and solutions to caving with glasses. Let’s hope there are suggestions beyond using contacts or just not wearing them.

On the other hand, if you’ve never had a problem, please let us know what kind of glasses you have.

Share your thoughts and comments in the discussion below.

On the other hand, if you’ve never had a problem, what kind of glasses do you have?

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Comments (12)

  1. David
    April 24, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I wear my glasses underground. It is hard enough to see in a cave environment. My glasses are polycarbonate lenses, so I also appreciate the protection they provide my eyes underground, sort of like safety glasses. Yes, they do fog up some, but that’s the way it goes.

  2. Aaron
    April 24, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Yes indeed I do! I know plenty of cavers who wear contacts instead, but I’m also usually digging and I really appreciate that extra line of defense.

    • Caving News
      April 24, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      How do your glasses hold up to the digging?

      • Aaron
        April 25, 2013 at 10:41 am

        For digging they actually hold up pretty well. I actually feel better wearing them to keep down on the amount of grit or dirt I can get in my eyes. From time to time head-diving to move rock around can be a little nerve wracking trying to keep them on my face.

  3. Brandon Crane
    April 25, 2013 at 7:44 am

    I wear contacts underground because I do a lot of edge work and do not want to risk my glasses taking a plunge. Besides, they just get dirty and foggy and there is not always something clean enough to clean them.

  4. Mark
    April 25, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Although I usually wear trifocals, I see better without them underground. The sweat, fog, and mud are too much to deal with. I’ll carry an old pair in a hard case in my cave bag if I need them for emergencies.

  5. April 25, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I wear glasses underground. They do occasionally get a little mud or water on them so I carry a dry cloth in my watertight barrel in my cave pack. In instances where I am going to be climbing and getting wet or sprayed I will typically take them off for that portion of the trip only.

  6. J.Wood
    April 25, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Depends on what I trying to do. Most times if I’m in a cave it is because I’m there to survey. I have stopped wearing my glasses when trying to get someplace in a cave fast. I get hot, then the lenses fog up and I have a much harder time seeing things than without them. Most caves I visit are pretty wet as it is. Don’t want to loose them in a stream. I’ve also stopped wearing them when reading instruments because the screws in the arms are magnetic, enough so to deflect a compass a few degrees. However, if I’m sketching they are on. I carry a soft cloth in my helmet that I can quickly access to wipe them down or if in a wet cave, I’ve a 300mL tall Nalgne that fits the glasses and my pencils for sketch which goes in the pack. Fun trips: They are usually in my bottle just in case I need them. On rope: I’ll generally wear them.

  7. April 25, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Most of the time I wear my glasses, but sometimes contacts. I can’t read maps or instruments with my contacts, though, so only glasses then. Yes, mud, grit, and fog are problems, so there’s a trade-off. One defogging trick I learned years ago is to put a drop of dish detergent (e.g. Joy) on the lenses and rub it around until it coats it. It sounds like it would make it blurry, but it doesn’t, and it does keep them from fogging up.

  8. Yiorgos
    April 26, 2013 at 3:46 am

    Yes I do wear my glasses as well underground. But I have an extra pair just for caving. They usually get foggy and wet especially when I am sweating ! But I think that that’s they way things happen! I don’t mind them being scratched because as soon as I will get to the surface I will go back to my every day pair of glasses.

  9. M K
    April 28, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I wear glasses and they have prevented several injuries, while a friend damaged his cornea just from a splash to his eye while wearing contacts.

  10. April 30, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    I wear glasses too. It generally works OK so long as it’s not too wet (then they get covered in water and I can’t see much – I take them off if I see it coming). I find contacts really uncomfortable but for soggy trips they are better. I have carried a glasses case on occaision, but very rarely bother. Having something to clean them with would be smart as all my gear is non-absorbent so isn’t much use.


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