Exceeding OSHA standards and capable of being ground to specific prescriptions makes Hunter's HD Gold the gold-standard among shooting glasses.
Also known as the “my-arms-are-too-short” disease, presbyopia is the normal occurrence of your eyes gradually losing the ability to see things up close. It’s nothing new. In fact, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the term, “presbyopia,” comes from a Greek word that means “old eye.”
Most humans start experiencing this problem around age 40, and the first indication of its onset is that you have to hold reading materials farther away. This, of course, is when you start thinking your arms have gotten … shorter.
What does any of this have to do with shooting? Well, it ought to be obvious: When shooting a handgun, the sights are generally held at about reading distance. If you can’t focus on them, you can’t hit the target with precision. And, as presbyopia worsens, even the front sight of a rifle can become blurry. The typical solution to this common ailment is the inexpensive “cheater” glasses sold at drug stores. Although they will help you read and even see your sights, they create a new problem: the ability to focus at distance.
Good News, Bad News
The lens behind your iris changes shape to focus light onto the retina. When you’re young, this lens is soft and flexible, allowing you to focus up close and far away. As you age, the lens becomes more rigid and can’t change shape as easily.
The bad news is that there’s no way to stop or reverse presbyopia. The good news is that the condition can be corrected with glasses, contacts or blended-vision surgery. However, for open-sight shooters who need the simultaneous close and far focus flexibility, these common corrections all fall short.
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Hunter’s HD Gold to the Rescue
I struggled with this condition for a few years … until I had the bright idea to ask my optometrist if he could modify my reading glasses prescription to sort of balance my near and far vision. We discussed where I needed to focus to see open sights on handguns and rifles and how sharp a focus I needed at distance.
He then tweaked my prescription, and I ordered a pair of Oakley glasses with interchangeable lenses. It was expensive—but some of the best money I’d ever spent. However, because of my narrow interpupillary distance, there was only one pair of Oakley glasses that would work for my eyes. Nonetheless, I used these glasses with great success for several years and was damned glad I had them.
Fortunately, earlier this year, I was teaching a scout rifle class, and one of my students was a fellow named Brian Conley. Brian operates a company called Hunter’s HD Gold (HuntersHDgold.com), which makes protective safety glasses that meet the ANSI Z87.1+ standard. In other words, that means this company makes OSHA-approved, ballistic shooting glasses.
Designed to offer contrast and clarity, the unique tint of the photochromic lenses helps with night blindness, macular degeneration and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). And, it also blocks 100 percent of UVA, UVB and blue light.
Just as importantly, the Trivex material (originally developed for the military as visual armor) from which the lenses are crafted is more impact-resistant than regular plastic or polycarbonate lenses and offers more than 43 percent light transmission. These lenses have an anti-glare coating that virtually eliminates reflections from the back, thus optimizing visual acuity and allowing the lenses to be more scratch-/dust-resistant than non-coated lenses. Sure, there’s a wide variety of shooting glasses on the market, but what sets Hunters HD Gold apart is its ability to incorporate your prescription into its lenses.
Conley’s company has been providing the best lenses possible for optometrists and ophthalmologists for more than 40 years. His newfound interest in shooting and hunting led to the creation of Hunters HD Gold glasses. When I described my narrow-eye, presbyopia-affected optical situation, he offered to craft me a pair of glasses to help me shoot better. He also lent me a pair of the nonprescription glasses to try.
When I returned home, I asked my optometrist if he would send me my corrected shooting prescription so I could forward it to Hunters HD Gold and have a pair of shooting glasses built. He pointed out that because it had been six years since my last appointment, I would have to come in for a fresh eye exam. I tried to explain that my current prescription worked just fine, but he was not interested in helping unless I came in for an office visit.
I then called Brian, explaining the situation. He said it was not a problem and that if I sent him my current prescription shooting glasses, he could extrapolate the prescription and apply it to his glasses.
And that’s exactly what he did. In under two weeks, I received a pair of Hunters HD Gold Archer-style glasses that incorporated my shooting prescription. They work perfectly and, in all honesty, have less edge distortion than the glasses supplied by my optometrist. Hunters HD Gold executed my prescription flawlessly. Not only did some range time with a few handguns prove this, I also used those glasses to help me shoot a buffalo in Africa this summer while using an open-sighted rifle.
I now have two pairs of Hunters HD glasses. I wear my non-prescription aviators almost all the time. This is partly because of the great impact-resistance they offer and partly because of the aforementioned advantages of contrast and clarity they provide. I wear my prescription Archer Hunters HD Gold glasses anytime I’m shooting open sights, whether they’re on a handgun or a rifle. In short: I’m sold, and if you like, you can consider this a full-fledged endorsement.
Dead-On Shooting Glasses
My suggestion is that if you’re suffering from presbyopia, visit your optometrist and ask him to modify your reading prescription to better balance the focus for shooting handguns or open sights on rifles. Then, send that prescription to Hunters HD Gold and get some shooting glasses that’ll help you hit what you’re aiming at. Hunters HD Gold can build your glasses with whatever prescription you like.
While you’re at it, I’d suggest also ordering a pair of the company’s nonprescription glasses. I’ll bet you find it hard to take them off. (While I was in Africa, everyone who tried mine liked them, and they became known as the “happy glasses,” because they seem to make the world a brighter, cheerier place!)
They sure make me a lot cheerier when I’m shooting with them—simply because I hit what I’m aiming at. Hunters HD Gold glasses are not cheap, but missing your target can get damned expensive. There’s a reason lots of competitive shooters wear them.
For more information on Hunters HD Gold shooting glasses, please visit huntershdgold.com.
The article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.