Glasses, Goggles and Contact Lenses for Sports

 

If you play a lot of sport then your regular glasses may be driving you a bit mad – misting up when you get sweaty, shifting when you swing the golf club or getting knocked off in a tackle. You may feel you need to take them off if playing a racquet or more intense contact sport like rugby where an impact could mean serious eye injury. In fact, if you’re a sportsman or woman then wearing your glasses may well be affecting your performance. So, what can be done?

Get Special Glasses or Goggles…

Lenses in sports eye wear are usually made of polycarbonate as it’s an impact-resistant lens material that works well to protect eyes from fast-moving objects. Polycarbonate also has built-in ultraviolet protection – especially important for golfers, cyclists, cricketers and runners who may spend many hours in the sunshine.  Untreated polycarbonate lenses can scratch easily, though and so most will include a scratch-resistant coating on both the front and back surface to keep them in shape for longer.

Sport frames are usually constructed of highly impact-resistant plastic and most come with rubber padding to cushion the frame around the temples and on the nose, but sports glasses and goggles are made in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are different designs for different sports and some are even designed to fit inside the helmets necessary for cycling or American football, for example.

Sports protective styles of frames are often contoured, wrapping slightly around the face. They also sometimes come with an elastic restraining strap that hugs the back of the head to keep them firmly in place and they often come in rimless styles or with vents to avoid misting.

If you’re a shooter or sailor, the choice of lens tint may be your ultimate priority and styles popular with those who practice these sports even boast interchangeable lenses to ensure 20/20 visibility in all conditions.

Swimming and ski goggles can be made with lenses that correct your spherical powers (sphere only) or your full prescription, just like a regular pair of glasses. Ski hybrids can come with foam surrounds or side shields to protect from the cold.

The possibilities really are endless, so come and discuss your specific requirements with us.

…Or Switch to Contact Lenses?

Often the most appropriate way of correcting the vision for sport is with contact lenses and we have lenses for every sporting lifestyle: Whether your concern is that you spend a lot of time in the sun and want lenses with UV protection to make sure your eyes are protected, or you’re just tired of glasses which fall off, mist up or impede your peripheral vision at crucial moments, we will find the contact lenses to suit. And that includes those who have varifocal prescriptions or indeed astigmatism.

So even if you have been told you’re not able to wear lenses in the past come and have a chat – chances are we can help. (And for less than you may think!)


A Short History of Contact Lenses

 

Isn’t it something of an everyday miracle – pop a tiny little lens in your eye and suddenly, 20-20 vision! For many of us, contact lenses are a lifesaver, but did you ever think how they might have come about?

In 1508 Leonardo da Vinci recorded the idea that the optics of the human eye could be altered by submerging the cornea in a bowl of water in his work Codex of the Eye. Later, in 1636, after reviewing Leonardo’s work, the French scientist Descartes wrote an essay in which he discussed placing a glass tube filled with liquid in direct contact with the cornea to improve eyesight. These ideas, while visionary (do you see what I did there?) were sadly impractical and no significant advances were made for almost two hundred years.

In 1801 Thomas Young made ground-breaking advances in describing astigmatism, and also, the very bold move of gluing water-filled glass tubes to his eyes with wax, building on Descartes’ work. Unsurprisingly this didn’t catch on and it wasn’t until 1845 that another British scientist, John Herschel came up with the idea of casting a mould of an individual cornea and making corrective lenses for that eye. No-one could quite come up with a way of doing that until over 50 years later, when within a year of each other a German false-eye manufacturer called Mueller and a Swiss physician called Flick both made prototypes of glass lenses which fitted over the entire white of the eye. While huge steps forward, these lenses were heavy, uncomfortable and essentially ‘suffocated’ the eye of oxygen so could be tolerated for a few hours at most.

The Americans took over in the 1900s with Feinbloom combining the glass lenses that sat on the cornea with a plastic surround which was more permeable and therefore more comfortable. (This was possible because of advances made by the Hungarian Dr Dallos who had worked on Herschel’s theory of mould-casting and perfected a method of doing so.) Later Kevin Touhy, in a happy accident, broke off the plastic surround of his lens and discovered that his vision was still corrected by using only the part that sat on his cornea. This meant the white of the eye could be left to breathe and so lenses could be tolerated for longer.

After this breakthrough the advances in lens technology came thick and fast: Leonardo’s insistence on the importance of water was borne out by the invention of the hydrogel lens: In 1958 Czech chemist Wichterle, together with his colleague Lim, created the first ‘soft’ lenses that were permeable, pliable and much thinner than glass lenses.

By the 1970s and 80s lenses were becoming more comfortable and could be worn for much longer periods. Today of course we have disposable lenses and even lenses that can be worn overnight or for weeks at a time, with better oxygen permeability and water content, making them a safe, comfortable and convenient option for many people.

Why not come and have a chat with one of our knowledgeable team to find out which type of contact lens may be best for you!