Hiking with poor vision

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tdwood
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Hiking with poor vision

Post by tdwood »

I wear progressive Rx sunglasses while hiking and I've come to wonder if they are responsible for my experiences with poor equilibrium (especially with a backpack), mild headaches, fatigue, etc. I think it has something to do with the constant looking at my feet and then back up. Does anyone else have similar experiences (and practical solutions!)? Unfortunately, Lasik isn't an option :?
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by trekkin_gecko »

I have progressive regular glasses but just the distance prescription for sunglasses. I don't like to wear the progressive ones for hiking. Warps my vision somewhat.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by LindaAnn »

I don’t have progressives, but my regular glasses correct for astigmatism, and my sunglasses do not. I sometimes get an off-balance feeling in my regular glasses. I almost never hike in my regular glasses because of that issue, but I occasionally hike in my sunglasses since they don’t cause a problem. I mostly use contacts to hike since they are for distance only and switch to glasses to drive. Maybe try getting a pair of non progressives just for hiking?
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tdwood
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by tdwood »

LindaAnn wrote:Maybe try getting a pair of non progressives just for hiking?
Yeah, that's where I'm feeling like this is headed. I was hoping to avoid carrying two different pairs of glasses. If it is in fact the Rx that's causing my wobbliness, I'm not sure I'd bother with a dedicated hiking pair since I'm gonna wobble either way.

Do you have any feelings of being off-balance with your contacts? If I knew contacts would eliminate the wobbliness, I'd definitely give that a try. I've never worn them before.
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LindaAnn
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by LindaAnn »

@tdwood My (purely uneducated) guess is that your eyes constantly refocusing when you look up and down through the varying strength of the progressive lenses is causing the off-balance and eyestrain/headache. That is what happens to me when I wear my rx glasses that correct the curve for the astigmatism. Since my rx sunglasses and contacts do not correct the astigmatism, there is no refocusing around a curve/distortion, and that’s why I try to only hike in contacts or my sunglasses. The difference is quite noticeable for me. No headache or eyestrain or off balance with the contacts.

Personally, I’d just switch glasses between progressives/non progressives for hiking, that would probably be the simplest solution. Of course, if you’re interested in trying contacts, then absolutely give it a shot. They’re a little more work, but then you can use any old pair of sunglasses while hiking, which I like. If you think you would only want to use the contacts for hiking and nothing else, then single use lenses would probably last you a long time.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by jochal »

Just my two cents, but I'd look into diet first, especially since you mention fatigue. Fatigue doesn't sound like a vision thing. I would get those same symptoms from eating eggs.
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tdwood
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by tdwood »

jochal wrote:I'd look into diet first
That's something I've tinkered with; like maybe I wasn't getting enough protein or energy foods on board before hitting the trail. No food allergies that I know of.

I've also recently begun focusing on stepping up my cardio and core strength in the event this might be a fitness issue, though I'm skeptical, as I've been in much better physical shape and experienced the same result. The eyeglass issue is the one possibility I hadn't thought to explore until now. I just feel like there's a correlation between my weakening vision/increase in eyeglass Rx and my equilibrium on the trail.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by toddak »

Looks like we're both in the "Failing 50s" (I'm 56), I've definitely had accelerating vision issues the past few years. I've had progressive (non-sunglass)_ glasses for several years that I use mainly for home, work, some driving. They don't cause anything like dizziness or general fatigue, but they just don't give good multi-distance vision and my eyes often feel irritated and tired after long use. However I have contacts in the same prescription and they are great and the only thing I use for outdoors activities like hiking (along with standard sunglasses). Good vision, especially at distance, and I can wear them all day comfortably.
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tdwood
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by tdwood »

toddak wrote:"Failing 50s"
:lol: Not going down without a fight.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by DarthStiller »

Could it be BPPV (vertigo)? I get that sometimes, it started 2 years ago. It's an inner ear issue that makes you feel off balance when you move your head. Looking down and up quickly can make you feel off balance. I'll have it for a week or so and then it goes away.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by SpiderLegs »

I'll be 55 in a little over a month, don't really have vision issues that a pair of cheap reading glasses can't fix. But, in the last 3-4 years I've noticed that trails I used to almost mogul ski down when trail running now requires me to tiptoe down to avoid taking a dive.
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tdwood
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by tdwood »

DarthStiller wrote:Could it be BPPV (vertigo)?
Hmmm, good question. I did have one nasty episode of BPPV six or seven years ago. Took me an ER visit and three days to get to where I could walk unassisted again. Never experienced another one. Maybe I've been living with a less debilitating version of it? It only seems to happen under exertion, and not just outdoors. I get the same thing on a treadmill at the gym. People probably think I'm drunk. It's something to ask my doc, for sure.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by SpiderLegs »

One other age related insight that I garnered from some of my 60-70 year old trail running partners was their interpretation of how your brain signals seem to get lost or slowed down as you age. Run along a trail that you've done 100+ times before and your brain tells your feet to lift up two inches to miss that tree root that's been in the middle of the trail forever. But as you age, they claim that your feet and legs only hear half the message, you pick up your foot only an inch then take a tumble or trip over yourself. I've heard them curse due to tripping over a hazard they've seen and known about for a decade and they can't understand what just happened.

I've also began using an asthma inhaler intermittently. Noticed that it throws things off just a tiny bit and on occasion on a sketchy down climb that I put a lot of weight on one leg I will get a case of "Elvis leg".
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by tdwood »

@SpiderLegs Yeah, I trip along the trail quite a bit too, although I had always attributed that to the distortion of the Rx lenses. Interesting to hear your insight. I also wondered if it might be my brain not compensating for the difference of walking in thicker-soled boots versus street shoes. Last year, I had a full neuro evaluation done; doc assures me there's nothing going on there so I'm really running out of other possibilities that I haven't already explored. @LindaAnn makes a strong case for me to experiment with contact lenses. They've always struck me as being more of a PITA than they're worth (I tend to elevate low-maintenance to high-art) but the whole balance thing is making me feel years older than I am. I'd rather wait to feel 85 until I'm actually 85.

Elvis Leg only sounds terrifying if you also started running in sequined jumpsuits.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by LindaAnn »

@tdwood Maybe a dumb question—but is there any chance you’re dehydrated? Also, if you’re not using one already, you might want to carry a trekking pole with you for balance/stability.
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tdwood
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by tdwood »

@LindaAnn Not dumb at all. I never hike anymore without at least one. Never used to in my younger years. I feel like I'm pretty good about staying hydrated but admit I've never consumed anywhere near the daily amount of water the experts say we should be. Then again, when hiking with others, I'll often feel like I'm consuming twice as much as everyone else--especially on backpacking trips.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by LosDosSloFolks »

@tdwood wrote..."Never used to in my younger years"

These are your younger years. Now you darn kids stay off my grass :)
If it ain't broke, don't break it.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by big_load »

Is your prescription up to date? I've worn progressive Rx for about six years, and I started to feel eye strain on my original ones after I got my second pair (new prescription). Two years later I updated my original lenses (another new prescription) and they felt a lot better.

Whatever happens, just keep trying to figure out. My last major trip before the pandemic was a long GC trek (Tanner trail, along the river to the Confluence, Escalante Route and out on Grandview. On of my partners on that trip was completely blind in one eye and couldn't see much more than light and dark and rough outline of shapes in the other. He had some rough spots in the first couple days (more fitness-related), but he was fine after that.
tdwood wrote: I did have one nasty episode of BPPV six or seven years ago. Took me an ER visit and three days to get to where I could walk unassisted again. Never experienced another one.
Same here, ten years ago. It knocked me out pretty well, taking close to a week to regain basic capability and almost a month to feel completely normal.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by Pivo »

I have hiked with my progressive lenses for years without any issue.
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Re: Hiking with poor vision

Post by tdwood »

Thank you @Pivo for the different perspective. When I first got Rx lenses, I heard from many people about their experiences with progressives (as opposed to straight-line bifocals). The general consensus was that they took some getting used to but didn't otherwise present any ongoing issues. I think I'm likely barking up the wrong tree but I feel like I have yet to definitively eliminate the lenses as a possibility. I'll see what my eye doc has to say. If it's not terribly cost prohibitive, I might just give contacts a try.
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