How to make an inexpensive pair of (prescription) sunglasses for the surf

left handed pecking as my right arm is in a sling, so I am reposting this post and taking the opportunity to update a detail on how to make a pair of prescription sunglasses for the surf. And that is, in step three, don’t bore a hole in the middle of the ear piece but at the end where it loops over your ear. The necklace cord fits better. I also now use a stainless steel fishing lure clip that I clip through the hole and to the necklace cord. When you wear sunglasses in the lineup (especially with a neon-bright chin-strap cap that helps hold the sunglasses in place) you do get some guys giving you odd looks, and some burst out laughing, but if you paddle and position with intent to get a set wave, they quickly realize you aren’t just some random kook gone AWOL from a surf school. And besides, I don’t really care how I look as long as I can keep surfing.

First time I went to an eye doctor as a kid, I found out I had a fairly rare eye condition wherein one eye was fairly normal but the other was very short-sighted. The condition has grown worse with age. One of the consequences is that without prescription glasses I have very little depth perception. In the surf, this consequence can be quite frustrating when one is trying to gauge the size and position of approaching sets. In large surf, it can be quite alarming.

During the years I surfed Nusa Dua, I provided my compatriots with much merriment as I constantly misjudged the waves into spectacular freefalls, becoming one with the lip. If successful on take-off and up and riding a wave, this myopic dude would sometimes slice perilously close to over surfers paddling over the shoulder. One occasion, I bee-lined right for a Japanese surfer I was sure was safely far out and rammed right into him, as directly as direct could be. Brett Beezley witnessed this and nearly bust a gut he was laughing so hard. The poor Japanese fellow wasn’t so amused, but we sorted it out, with much groveling apologies on my part.

Anyhow, it’s finally gotten to the point that I’ve taken to rigging up inexpensive prescription sunglasses for the surf. Here are the key steps:

1. Find cheap pair of sunglasses from a sidewalk vendor that has the arms attached to glass frame by screws. The screw is rigid and will break off in the surf (as I quickly learned), so remove the screw and thread & twist a couple strands of copper wire through the screw hole. This will give the arms the necessary flexibility in the surf.

sunglasses 1

sunglasses 2

(Below is a different pair of sunglasses with the copper wire through the screw hole — this pair of surf sunglasses has already lasted for two months in small to large surf)

sunglasses 3

2. Go to an optometrist and order prescription lenses for these sunglasses. (These lenses are not expensive here in Bali).

3. SEE COMMENT ON TOP Bore small holes in the ear pieces – large holes will weaken the ear piece. Thread and tie a loop of string through the small hole. What I use is the small wire for ear-bud speakers – perfect size, plastic coated.

sunglasses 4

4. Tie the ends of a necklace cord to the loops, and there you have it:

sunglasses 5

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4 Responses to How to make an inexpensive pair of (prescription) sunglasses for the surf

  1. Thanks! Any ideas how to keep the lens clear of water drops? I’ve tried (unsuccessfully) de-fog spray, spit and potato juice… I guess our water photographer friends could help with what they use?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ive heard a rumour that rubbing chilli oil on the lens will prevent fogging.😉

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