SSP Eyewear: a cool fix for outdoor lovers with aging eyes
Eve Flanigan 10.10.18
Once in a while one of those products comes along that makes you wonder why no one thought of it before. That was the case when I tried SSP Eyewear. The company makes tactical and other sporting specs with a difference, and there’s no prescription required.
There are several SSP product lines, but I’ve been wearing the shooting glasses. There are several styles of protective wrap-around, ANSI-rated lenses, so you can bang away at steel targets with no fear of eye damage.
What makes these lenses really special is a plethora of options for magnifying bifocals. Every accomplished shooter knows focusing on the front sight is magic juice for accuracy. Many of those same shooters experience disappointment and frustration when the front sight—or anything at arm’s length—becomes impossible to see clearly thanks to age-related changes in the eye. And that’s where SSP comes in, with a simple but problem-solving concept.
Users can choose the level of magnification that serves them best. SSP reps advised me to go to the reading specs display at my local drug store, and focus on a pencil lead through various magnification strengths to find the best match. There was a pang of dismay to learn my 1.25 glasses were no longer cutting it but the 2.0 strength made everything clear. I placed my order.
When the glasses arrived, the frames were accompanied by a padded case that holds interchangeable top focal lenses. What a selection for the price. I can choose to not have any magnification in my non-shooting eye if I like. I can choose clear, amber, or dark lenses.
The magnifying top-of-lens is a simple but radical design. Now many shooters who struggled with an increasingly blurry front sight can maintain a normal shooting stance, with head slightly forward, and look right onto a clear front sight through the top bifocal.
Top focal magnification is a brilliant concept and many shooters praise this simple tool for restoring their ability to focus on the front sight. In this test, I found out my eyes aren’t quite ready for top focal shooting just yet. The lenses bring the rear sight into strikingly clear view, while the front sight is a bit blurred. Friends tell me just wait, the day is coming when they’ll work.
While shooting with top focals isn’t a hit, yet, for my own peepers, I find the bottom-of-lens bifocals really useful for certain range tasks. I can move easily from shooting or providing instruction looking naturally through the unaltered top/middle lenses. But, if I need to read a serial number off a firearm or inspect the fine print on a course of fire, the transition to reading is nearly effortless as I look through the bottom, magnifying section. These glasses are a boon to me for “square range” tasks like these.
The emphasis on square range tasks is because I did take the bottom-bifocals off range to do some chores and errands. Driving was good, and the lenses make it easy to read the day’s mail while keeping my eyes shaded. Mowing with a push mower was quite another story. I didn’t realize how much depth perception my eyes and brain were processing until I took on mowing my hole-riddled lawn with the bifocals. After an hour of old college try, I tired of being half-startled when glancing down and the subsequent inclination to trip—not the safest action to repeat around a spinning blade.
SSP Eyewear is like getting prescription lenses for the activities that aging eyes once took for granted. I see them as having great potential for other activities that require fine focus at times, like fishing or foraging for edibles. Many jobs—like the training officer or drilling rig operator who has to transition repeatedly between physical activity and log books –will benefit from the better focus these lenses offer.
SSP Eyewear offers a staggering array of options, and prices are reasonable, with bottom bifocals starting in the high teens dollar range and the Ultra kit costing $79.99. And even though they’re functional, they’re not military “birth control” glasses. Lots of frame and lens choices will let you keep your personal style on point while enjoying functional eyewear.