The world of sports comes with unique demands and pressures. But outside of a faint yet catchy refrain of “Eye of the Tiger,” you may have not given much thought to the vision needs of professional athletes and sports aficionados. Over 50% of Americans report vision problems including nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The players that fall into this category often opt for contact lenses because of their competitive edge. While some people would prefer not to rely on contact lenses in daily life, using contacts for sports and other physical activity has numerous advantages.

Benefits of Wearing Contact Lenses

  • Contact lenses provide better peripheral vision than glasses.  Sports eyeglasses are often made with large, wraparound-style lenses, but prescription glasses are more notable for their small, relatively flat lenses and small frames.  Though the design is convenient for daily use, it substantially limits the peripheral vision that is so vital for many sports.  Contacts also deliver a wide, open field of view without the obstruction of eyeglass frames.  This makes it easier to see more of one’s environment and to respond with speed and agility as balls fly or bodies move.  There is also a much slimmer chance of contacts being adversely affected by weather conditions like rain or humidity.
  • In addition to the boost to performance, contact lenses can help prevent injuries on the field.  Eyeglasses pose a particular threat because if they break in the course of playing, they can cause an eye injury.  Contacts, on the other hand, can foster safe play by providing more stable vision.  If one runs or engages a dynamic motion, it is likely that the frames of traditional glasses will jiggle and wobble, or slide down the nose, or fall off altogether.  Not only do contacts stay put, but they are generally far more compatible with safety equipment, like headgear or protective goggles.  And, if one is only making use of disposable contact lenses, then there are no worries about care and storage.

 RGP Lenses

  • Most athletes know about the advantages of contacts over glasses while playing a sport or even working out, but not all of them have heard of rigid gas permeable RGP lenses which provide another option.  These contacts, sometimes just referred to as RGP or GP lenses, which are made for full-time wear. Because they are rigid, they maintain their shape upon the eye with greater precision and create sharper vision.  This yields better adjustment of astigmatism and other corneal abnormalities.  RGP lenses allow more oxygen to reach your eyes than the majority of soft lenses, and thus, people often experience them as most comfortable through longer periods of wear.  Their hard surfaces are also less likely to collect debris, and because they don’t absorb tears as soft lenses do, dry eye is less of a concern.
  • The downside with RGP lenses is that their firmness can take longer to acclimate to and for best results, full time wear is the only choice.  Furthermore, as they are smaller than soft lenses, they are more likely to be displaced from the eye during rougher periods of jostling or impact. If they are a highly appealing option, in all other respects, an eye doctor can customize a GP lens with a greater diameter.

Are you a hockey champion or a dedicated runner or even a weekend basketball lover? What’s your experience been with sports and eye care?  Share your stories and questions in our comments section!

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