Sports lenses

Contact lenses are very popular with athletes and sportspeople in general who like their convenience, ease of use and practicality as compared to glasses.

There are a range of different lenses which are suitable for sports activities and the type you choose depends upon the nature of the sport. Soft contact lenses appear to be the preferred type of contact lens although you can wear gas permeable lenses.

Advantages of sports contact lenses

There are several of these which include:

  • Minimal risk of steaming/misting up
  • Easy to wear
  • More stable than glasses/less likely to become dislodged
  • Less likely to become dusty or dirty
  • Safer (no risk of breakage)
  • All round vision
  • Less distortion
  • Less glare/reflections
  • Improved depth of vision

Basically, you do not have the problem of glasses steaming up, slipping down your nose or falling off at an inopportune moment, such as crossing the finishing line or scoring the winning goal.

Plus there is better depth of perception which is vital for sports in which you have to judge distances, for example throwing events in athletics (e.g. javelin).

Which type of lens to choose for sport?

The issue is which type of contact lens to wear during sport? There are several factors you may wish to consider before you decide which include the type of sport you play, the environment, e.g. inside or outside and whether it involves physical contact.

Daily disposable lenses are a popular choice and are ideally suited to many sports. For instance: if you play a sport which involves contact with dirt, mud etc then daily disposables can be worn and then discarded after each time you wear them which reduces the risk of an eye infection.

They are also popular with people who only want to wear contact lenses on a part time basis.

The other option is daily wear lenses but these will require ongoing maintenance such as cleaning and then soaking overnight. This has to be done each time you wear these lenses.

Daily disposable lenses or reusable lenses?

It can be difficult to choose so weigh up the pros and cons of disposable lenses and re-usable lenses before making a decision. Disposable or reusable lenses are suitable for most sports.

An exception to this is if you take part in endurance based sports, e.g. climbing/mountaineering, mountain marathons etc where it is simply not practical to handle contact lenses on a daily basis. In these situations it may be preferable to choose extended or continuous wear lenses.

A good example of these is silicone hydrogel lenses. These are made from a high oxygen performing material which means that they allow a higher percentage of oxygen to reach the eye.

Plus you can leave these lenses in your eyes for a set period of time which includes during the night. This is ideal if you take part in events which continue through the night.

Orthokeratology for sports people

If you take part in contact sports such as martial arts or boxing then a better option may be orthokeratology. This is a type of gas permeable contact lens which reshapes the cornea of the eye whilst you sleep.

This type of lens is worn by people who have myopia (short sightedness) but do not want to undergo laser eye surgery or wear contact lenses during the day.

Orthokeratology means that you only wear contact lenses at night. This removes the need to wear lenses during the day and/or when you play sport which reduces the risk of damage to these lenses caused by a punch or blow to the eye. This is a solution of the problem of not being allowed to wear contact lenses or glasses whilst boxing for obvious safety reasons. This equally applies to rugby.

In other sports such as squash, protective eyewear must be worn or is recommended.

Talk to your optician about the type of sport/s you participate in and your individual needs. He or she will be able to advise you about suitable type of contact lenses.

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