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Using glasses as a bushwalker

Glasses are probably the most common piece of adaptive equipment you will see bushwalkers using on a bushwalk. Broadly speaking, people that uses glasses are either long-sighted (meaning that they can see well in the distance but not up close) or short-sighted (meaning that they can see up close well, but not the distance). So bushwalkers that are short-sighted will struggle to see views but are fine reading a map, whereas it’s the opposite for long-sighted people.

Loss of vision can vary from being minor, where the user can easily cope without their glasses, through to near-complete vision loss without glasses. Interestingly, people that wear glasses are to varying degrees dependent on their glasses to function, in similar fashion to a person that uses a wheelchair as a piece of equipment to solve a mobility issues.

The interesting thing here is that we are so accustomed to glasses that we do not tend to consider people that wear glasses as having a disability, however, it’s worth noting that if a person that wears glasses does not have them, it can become a problem. Hence, here are some pointers to ensure that glasses are well-looked after on a bushwalk and that they continue to serve the user well.

  • Secure your glasses well: If you only use your glasses intermittently for reading, or your glasses are a bit loose, make sure to tie a cord around your glasses so you don’t accidently misplace them.
    Pack them away safely at night: put glasses away safely overnight in a glasses case so they don’t get squashed, or in a side pocket of the tent.
  • Keep as much rain off as possible: glasses become tricky to see out of in the rain. Avoid rain landing on the lenses by wearing a broad-brimmed hat or hood.
  • Consider other options: For some bushwalkers, contact lenses may be an alternative option on a bushwalk. It’s also possible to get prescription sunglasses, so this could also be worth exploring to see if these work for you too.
  • Carry a spare pair of glasses: if your vision is truly compromised without your glasses to the point where you would feel unsafe walking without them, consider carrying a spare pair of glasses as a backup in case of damage or loss of your primary pair of glasses.

Unfortunately, glasses are fragile, so there’s a chance that they will break on a bushwalk. If you can carry an old pair or a pair that you’re not too worried about getting scratched, then that’s a great option. If you do break a pair of glasses in the field, it’ll be challenging to do a sophisticated repair job, but you should be able to do a reasonable job with what’s in your first aid kit. Carefully collect all broken parts and use tape to bind them together (back home, take it to your optometrist for future repair options).

If you do lose your glasses on a bushwalk, the main thing there is not to panic. Stop and think. Recall where you last saw them, and if possible retrace your steps through where you’ve been since you last saw them. If you have no luck finding your glasses, then make use of your group for assistance out. Buddy up with another person that can point out obstacles such as logs and edges. You may even find that physically linking arms with another bushwalker if the way that you feel most safe tackling the track.