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By Jim Cornelius
News Editor 

Building eyewear for outdoor adventures

 

Last updated 8/30/2022 at Noon

Doug Reynolds has led an active, outdoor life since youth. An eye condition drove him to create functional, rugged, stylish eye protection. PHOTO PROVIDED

Doug Reynolds’ life has revolved around outdoor adventure since he was a kid growing up in rural Connecticut.

“From as long ago as I can remember, in all my free time I was tromping around in the woods,” he said.

He was an active Boy Scout, skiing, backpacking, camping, and whitewater rafting. And he learned the ethic of respect for the environment.

“All of that stuff sort of molded who I became as an adult,” he said. “It’s really been the primary focus of my whole life. It’s primary to who I am as a person.”

His active outdoor way of life has been imperiled by a rare, hereditary degenerative ocular condition that is robbing him of eyesight. That is compounded by retinal sun scarring from a life of playing and working outside without proper protection from the sun’s harsh rays. Diagnosed in 2005, Reynolds has embarked on a mission to protect his own vision and that of others through a line of sunglasses that provide excellent eye protection, first-class functionality and performance for active outdoor athletes — and style.


Bähko Eyewear offers 100 percent UV 400 protection, shatterproof lenses, and ruggedly built and lightweight frames — all of it conforming to Reynolds’ tagline: “Built to BE OUTSIDE.”

Reynolds wanted his eyewear to be rugged enough to live up to his principle that, in outdoor adventure, “if you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough.” His eyewear had to be rugged enough to withstand punishment.

Bähko Eyewear lenses can withstand an FDA drop-ball test, determining that they are, in fact, shatterproof.


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“That’s the primary standard for what we do,” he said.

A spring hinge flexes instead of bending, and the frames are light and comfortable.

“We’re focusing on elasticity as opposed to rigidity,” he said. “If you’re focused on functionality, you’re naturally going to get to a lighter weight.”

Reynolds’ goal was to provide premium eyewear at an accessible price. Because he is pretty much a one-man show, selling his product online and at farmers markets, festivals, and other events, he is able to keep his prices in reach for regular folks.

“Value for dollars, that’s really where it is,” he said. “I’m super proud to be able to serve that market.”

He has some limited retail availability in Bend and plans to explore the potential for retail outlets in Sisters.


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Reynolds’ own vision challenges lend urgency and passion to his work. He is as interested in educating people on the importance of eye protection as he is in selling eyewear.

The condition that is stealing his eyesight is hereditary — his father and one brother developed it.

“I was an adult before I knew that I had this condition,” he said.

Working in the computer industry, he noticed that his vision was less acute than it had been. He knew that there was a one-in-three chance of developing the condition his father had, and he decided to get thoroughly checked out.

“I just remember the moment the doctor (gave) half a gasp and backed away from the viewing device,” he recalled. “He said, ‘You have the eye of an 80-year-old!’ I was 29 at the time. That was a moment for me.


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“It’s a lot worse in my right eye than my left,” he noted. “My right eye, I’m legally blind in.”

The diminishment of his vision has had an effect on the outdoor way of life he loves.

“It’s a balancing act between looking on the bright side, and coming to terms with limitation,” he said.

Building good-looking, highly functional eyewear that provides real protection — at a price accessible for just about everyone — is a means of creating meaning and purpose in the midst of a bad situation. For more information, visit https://bahkoeyewear.com/.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit www.frontierpartisans.com.

 

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