At some point (over 30 for some, 40 for many, and by 50 for most) the eyesight prescription (Rx) which corrects for the best distance vision no longer also provides a sharp handgun front sight. For many, “progressive” eyeglasses or “multi-focal” contact lenses do not work well for shooting, and thus they are not the answer. Here’s a suggestion for a relatively easy fix which can work for duty, competition, and everyday activities. It’s called monovision; one eye is corrected to see close up (normally for reading), and the other to see distance. If it is going to work for you, within one week or so you will no longer realize you are using a somewhat exotic Rx. However, you may experience a slight decrease in the depth perception you would have using regular binocular vision.
First, make absolutely sure you have the Rx which gives you the best possible vision. If loss of front sight sharpness is what sent you to the eye professional, make sure you are tested for the presence of an astigmatism, which can make the front sight of a handgun seem a bit fuzzy, even though eyesight is otherwise acceptable. Then, ask your eye professional to give you an Rx for the eye which focuses on the front sight that results in a resting focus at the distance where the front sight is when you are in your usual shooting stance. Example: If you are nearsighted and your Rx is normally -4.50, try a -3.25 for that eye. This is most easily done with trial contact lenses of several strengths that you can wear while shooting, or serious time in the eye professional’s chair on the machines figuring an Rx for that eye to be able to read small print four to eight inches beyond arms-length. The other eye receives the normal Rx (to best see to infinity). I dubbed this “specific use monovision.”
The same Rx should also help you reload and clear malfunctions in your “workspace” provided you make the conscious effort to keep the front sight eye on the handgun as it is brought to the body. In a short time the eyes usually adjust and you will not notice the vision split or be able to tell each eye is doing a distinct job. Each eye will be drawn to its zone of reference and focus accordingly without interference by the other. You likely will be able to shoot an array of targets in both directions without significant effect. If you are farsighted, you can play with various over the counter Rx reading glasses to determine which + adjustment gives you the sharpest front sight. Depending on the condition of your eyes, you may be able to dial it in to make the front sight sharp while the rear remains a bit fuzzy. A caveat: When barricade shooting,you will likely need to get both eyes out and around the barrier in order not to be disoriented.
What about when your tour or shooting activity is over and you want to drive home, or need a fully corrected Rx in your front sight eye? One way is to have a pair of clear or tinted glasses made with a plano (plain, no Rx) lens for the other eye and the balance of the correction Rx for your front sight eye. In the event you are called upon suddenly to have to be able to shoot or manipulate a handgun, toss aside the special Rx glasses and don normal eye protection or non Rx sunglasses. The reverse can also be in your eye toolkit. You can wear fully corrected contacts with covering eye protection or sunglasses which cut the correction back on your front sight eye to the modified monovision Rx.
If you wear contacts, watch out for solutions with preservatives and other unnecessary chemicals. The best contacts for eye health are the daily disposable. (They are made in most prescriptions, including toric lenses for astigmatics). If you wear 2-4 week disposables, try hydrogen peroxide based soak, like Clear Care. For duty or running and gunning, correctly fitting contacts are imperative, as is carrying eye wash to re-moisten lenses, refresh your eyes, and to wash out debris. Single use vials of solutions usually contain no preservatives.
If you wear glasses, and want Rx lenses which can be changed out quickly as described above, there are a couple of options, see for example www.sportglasses.com.