High Quality Prescription Shooting Glasses from Complete Eye Safety


by Leroy Thompson

photography by Leroy Thompson

January 23rd, 2009




One problem many of us who are avid shooters face as we get older is that our prescription glasses may no longer aid--but may actively hinder--our shooting. This problem normally arises because the prescription that allows us to see the target at a distance makes the front sight blurry or the prescription that makes the sights clear makes distant target acquisition difficult. There is a solution, however. A few opticians--in my experience, very few--specialize in making prescription shooting glasses or prescription glasses for other special applications. I am fortunate that Complete Eye Safety, which makes prescription shooting glasses and other specialized prescription eyewear for industry, military, law enforcement, and sportsmen all over the world is based in St. Louis, MO, where I live. I will note right now, however, for readers that it is not necessary to visit Complete Eye Safety in person to get specialized glasses. Chris Vogler, who is the specialist in prescription shooting glasses, has a lot of experience in working with shooters over the phone to get the information necessary to produce the glasses they need.

Before getting into that process, though, let me talk a bit about how prescription shooting glasses work. I've been using a pair for the last few years and recently had to get new pairs because my prescription has changed. When I first got my glasses from Vogler I was amazed at how much my groups tightened up.         In the case of my glasses, the right lens is ground so that I can see the sights on a pistol, combat shotgun, or battle rifle with my dominant eye (right in my case) when I assume the shooting position. The left lens is ground so that I can see the target.     Since I shoot with both eyes open I had little difficulty learning to use this system, though I will note that for the first hour or so using  this type of shooting glasses, you will feel a bit odd.    However, this passes quickly and the glasses work great. I now put mine on when I arrive at the range and leave them on throughout the day, even if I have to drive from rifle to pistol range. My glasses also have a lower bifocal section so that I can read instructions for optical sights or see dials when zeroing optics.

At first I didn't see how the prescription that works for pistol sights could also work for battle rifle and combat shotgun sights.  However, if you hold a pistol in shooting position, then hold an AR15 in shooting position, you will see that the front sights are actually about the same distance from the eye. Although they are not recommended for full-time usage, shooters who may occasionally shoot a rifle or shotgun with a radically different sight radius (i.e. for Turkey Shoots) can also have Complete Eye Safety produce a press-on bifocal which alters the normal shooting lens for the longer sight radius.  

Complete Eye Safety also specializes in making prescription glasses for military personnel, law enforcement personnel, industrial applications, and various other tasks. Many of the military and law enforcement personnel order goggles or tactical-type glasses such as those from Wiley-X. Complete Eye Safety can also do prescription gas mask lenses or lenses for other types of masks. Because Complete Eye Safety specializes in glasses for applications such as industrial and military usage, they are designed to be very tough. Years ago when I first had Chris Vogler make me a pair of glasses, he showed me a pair one of his customers had sent back for him to examine. The customer, a bird hunter, had taken a blast of shot in the face at relatively close range. The glasses had not shattered despite being hit by pellets and had saved his vision.

A specialized type of prescription shooting glasses offered by Complete Eye Safety is especially applicable for law enforcement, some military applications, and those with concealed carry licenses. Vogler calls them reverse bifocals. Reverse bifocals take your normal prescription and add a prescription bifocal at the top of the glasses at the point where one looks with the dominant eye when acquiring the sights. I wear mine just as I would my normal glasses, but if I have to draw my gun, the sights are crystal clear. I mentioned these reverse bifocals some years ago in a column I did for a law enforcement magazine, and the response was overwhelming. Various officers from around the country sent Vogler e-mails thanking him for letting them stay on the street since they had been having trouble qualifying before they got the reverse bifocals. I also heard from some officers thanking me for drawing their attention to the specialized prescription glasses.

When I had my standard prescription shooting glasses made this time, I also decided to have two pairs of Wiley-X glasses made for use when I do tactical training or for everyday wear in some cases. Complete Eye Safety specializes in Wiley-X prescription glasses and prescription shooting glasses and sells a large number of pairs to military personnel. The Wiley-X frames sold by Complete Eye Safety are OSHA approved safety frames. The folks at Complete Eye Safety tell me that because the Wiley-X glasses look good as well as work so well, they've helped reduce eye injuries in the combat zones substantially--BECAUSE THE TROOPS WILL WEAR THEM!!   I'll admit I like the way they look--they have a high CDI factor, as the SEALs would say.   

I ordered one of my pairs of Wiley-X reverse bifocal glasses with the breathable gasket which may be installed for use in dusty, sandy environments or when it is very windy. These have proven a real boon for troops deployed in the Sand Box. I also ordered this pair of Wiley-X with the transitional lenses so that they darken in bright sunlight or in high glare situations. These function as my prescription sunglasses, too. My other pair of Wiley-X glasses employs the PAF (Premium Anti-Fog) treatment which Complete Eye Safety has found works very well in industrial situations. This is an anti-fog coating which keeps the glasses from fogging in virtually every condition. I've worn mine a half dozen times in situations where my glasses always fog and so far they've stayed completely clear. Just last night, my wife ordered me to empty the dish washer as soon as it had completed its run. This is a task that normally fogs my glasses immediately so I stuck on the Wiley-Xs with the PAF treatment and they stayed completely clear. Note that the PAF treatment cannot be used with certain other treatments which may have been applied to the glasses.

Anyone who's done tactical training for military or law enforcement wearing a gas mask knows the problems with lens fogging when carrying out any strenuous activities. In fact, when we used to train Army MP Special Reaction teams, one of my associates, who was former SAS, always made it a point to take the soldiers on a brisk run before we did shooting in gas masks to get them used to shooting with them fogged. Complete Eye Safety can produce prescription or nonprescription gas mask lenses with the PAF treatment--problem solved!

Even though Complete Eye Safety ships glasses all over the world and often has one or more of their optometrists travel to distant sites to give eye tests or take measurements for glasses, they remain dedicated to individual service via the phone and/or internet as well. Chris Vogler and Joel Wishne take care of the Optometric duties, Alicia Steward (who is ex-military herself) grinds specialized lenses, and Lynn Ryan deals with customer service and shipping. They are especially dedicated to getting glasses out quickly to deployed troops.

In addition to shooting glasses, Complete Eye Safety offers prescription glasses designed for an array of other sports including fishing, hunting, trapshooting, golf, pool, etc. And, of course, Complete Eye Safety specializes in prescription safety glasses for a wide array of industrial applications. The Complete Eye Safety team told me stories about how much quality control had gone up at some plants after they provided safety glasses with the workers' current prescriptions. Quality control in your shooting will go up as well! 

For those who want to order prescription shooting glasses from Complete Eye Safety, you will need a current eye exam within the last year. Have whomever performs the exam include the pupillary distance on the prescription and mark PD next to it to make sure the folks at Complete Eye Safety will note it. There will be a few other measurements necessary, but Chris Vogler has walked hundreds of shooters and other sportsmen through the process over the phone and does it very clearly and concisely. 

I am very impressed with my Wiley-X and standard shooting glasses from Complete Eye Safety. I am also very impressed with the Complete Eye Safety staff who really take customer service seriously and provide glasses which help the user do what he or she needs or wants to do more effectively. When I'm doing gun tests these days and shoot an excellent group--an event that doesn't happen as often as I would prefer!--I note the gun, optics  used, and load for the article, but I also give a silent thanks to Complete Eye Safety.

For more information or to begin the process of ordering glasses, contact Chris Vogler at:

Complete Eye Safety - Phone (314) 406-6166

Leroy Thompson

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Click pictures for a larger version.


The Permanent Anti-Fog treatment which Complete Eye Safety can apply will prevent glasses fogging.  Note Thompson's Wiley-Xs next to a standard lens over a tub of hot water.



Chris Vogler taking measurements while Thompson sights on his S&W 4563.



Chris Vogler of Complete Eye Safety checks that he has the proper prescription for Thompson to see his pistol sights.



A pair of glasses with the stick-on bifocals which can be affixed when a shooter occasionally uses a very long-barreled rifle or shotgun with his prescription shooting glasses.



Press-on bifocals may be used to allow glasses designed for normal length rifles or shotguns to be used with very long-barreled guns.



Thompson shooting with his standard Complete Eye Safety prescription shooting glasses. The right lens is ground to see the sights and the left lens is ground to see the target.



Thompson shooting with a pair of Wiley-X prescription shooting glasses of the reverse bifocal type, for general wear as well as shooting.



A closer view of the Wiley-X shooting glasses.



The breathable gasket on Wiley-X glasses keeps out wind, dust, sand, etc. The gasket may be quickly installed or removed.



Thompson using a pair of Wiley-X daily wear reverse bifocal glasses which have been treated with Permanent Anti-Fog so they will not steam up.