You’ve probably seen those odd-looking glasses with prisms mounted where the lenses would normally be. They are for lying down in bed or elsewhere and reading a book or watching TV comfortably without getting a neck ache due to poor posture.
They were featured in the movie The Bucket List where they were worn by Jack Nicholson’s character, Edward, in that memorable ‘6 Month to live’ scene where the doctor delivers the bad news about his patient’s ill-health. Edwards is lying down, apparently staring at the ceiling. To the doctors surprise he is actually watching the TV on the wall behind him!
Bedtime TV watching and book reading was all that I thought Prism Glasses were intended for. But I was wrong!
There is a version of prism glasses where the prism mirrors are reversed. So that instead of the wearer seeing their feet – or probably more interestingly their book or TV – these glasses actually look upward!
Standing up and looking straight ahead when wearing a pair of these glasses you would see either the ceiling or sky, depending on if you were indoors or outside, of course.
In this format these specs are known as Belay Glasses. Belaying is the term used by Rock Climbers for their activities of climbing rock walls and the sides of mountains using ropes and other equipment. Hence Belay Glasses!
By wearing them the climber can not only keep a watchful eye on anything that may come their way from above, but also look for, and find, their next hand-hold. All without having to crane their head back and most probably suffering neck ache. A condition that is so common among Belayers that it is known as Belayer’s Neck.
Belay Glasses give increased comfort and greater safety to Rock Climbers and are a popular item of belaying device that is carried by many Belayers as a regular part of their outdoor and indoor rock climbing gear.
But it’s not just Rock Climbers who can benefit from using these specs. In fact anyone who spends their day working on equipment above their heads would find them a real boon.
Electricians often spend a lot of time working on electrical equipment that is affixed to the ceiling. Light fittings and cooling fans, for instance. Being able to keep their head level and not tilted backward makes this work much more comfortable. Not having to constantly keep straightening out their neck muscles could also mean they get more done in a shorter space of time too.
Window Cleaners don’t just work from ladders these days. The smart ones use those long telescoping window cleaning poles. These can often be very long indeed, reaching up several storeys in some cases. The strain on the window cleaner’s neck can be quite severe, often resulting in discomfort or even pain. By using Belay Glasses they can see the squeegee at the top of the pole while at the same time keeping their head straight and looking forward.
But it’s not only in the working environment where these glasses can have such a beneficial effect. They are perfect for certain leisure activities too.
Kite Flying is a great way to relax and is good exercise too. By its very nature it means you will be getting plenty of fresh air at the same time. However the strain of constantly looking up at the high-flying kite can really hurt those neck muscles and joints! Often the strain becomes too much and the kite has to brought down to a lower altitude or even landed. The neck then has to be massaged to relieve the pain and discomfort before the next flight. But by wearing a pair of glasses flying time can be greatly extended while at the same time neck ache can be almost eliminated.
Model airplane flying is a similar activity where Belay Glasses could be a great benefit. Because forward vision is not impaired by the prisms – you simply look over the top of them – the ‘plane can be kept in view at all times whether at close to ground level or high up in the air. Once again flying times could be greatly extended and comfort levels vastly improved with neck ache avoided almost totally.
So, although designed for Rock Climbers, Belay Glasses can be of immense benefit to many people in other areas too. Anywhere, in fact, where being able to see above head height is required and neck ache is to be avoided.