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!)
Brand Spotlight | Lulu Guinness Frames
Dare to be different! That’s the motto of Lulu Guinness, who is perhaps most famous for her statement handbags, much loved by trendsetters such as Kate Moss, Emma Watson and Paloma Faith.
Remember the red lips clutch bag that was much imitated a few years ago? That was Lulu Guinness and she makes a knowing little nod to that iconic image with her signature little red lips printed on the arms of each of the frames in her eye wear collection.
Lulu Guinness at Patrick & Menzies
We love the Lulu Guinness range here at Patrick & Menzies because they are definitely a talking point, but without being over-the-top wacky! Rather, they are sophisticated, with a touch of daring – featuring inter-plays of colour and dramatic retro shapes.
The collection is targeted “at women with a fierce sense of humour and an even fiercer sense of their own femininity” and we can see these frames being snapped up by our clients that are looking for something playful and modern, but with a touch of gravitas.
Style details are important to this designer and along with the red lips and metal logo inlay, these frames come in a veritable rainbow of colours, and patterns including animal print, glitter, polka dot, and the trademark black, white, and red – whether you’re looking for a striking silhouette, vintage glamour or subtle whimsy, there’s a frame in this collection to suit.
High Quality Frames
But style doesn’t come at the expense of substance – Lulu Guinness frames are made from high-quality materials, built for the rigours of everyday wear and some of the styles are offered in an alternative, more generous fit. They are super comfortable too, with adjustable or integrated ergonomic nose pad systems and cushioned hinge bracket arms.
“Glasses have become an expression of one’s individuality”, Lulu says. “I wanted my frames to be beautiful objects in themselves as well as flattering for the face”. And they certainly are – luxurious yet affordable, the Lulu Guinness range is in all our stores and, as you would expect, we can fit them with the highest quality lenses that are right for you.
Pop in and browse the collection. We look forward to seeing you!
Prescriptions | What does all that information mean?
For many of us, an eye examination is more about the immediate concern of whether your current prescription has changed or, indeed, whether you actually need glasses to help you see better, than anything else!
At the end of your appointment your optometrist will issue you with your prescription: A piece of paper with a series of numbers on it that tell us the sort of lens you need to correct your eyesight. It’s rather grandly known as your ‘refractive error’. The perfect eye projects a sharp, clear image onto the retina, known as ‘emmetropic’. If your eyes don’t do this (and most don’t) it’s most commonly because they have a refractive error and that means the image you see is blurry.
You may have heard the terms ‘short-sighted’, ‘long-sighted’, ‘astigmatism’ or maybe even ‘prisms’, but do you really know what they mean?
What’s a ‘Normal’ Eye?
The power of your lens is measured in units called ‘dioptres’ and most prescriptions are relatively low in power – for comparison, the NHS considers a complex prescription to be anything over 10 dioptres.
A ‘standard’ eyeball has a focusing power of +60 dioptres. This brings light rays coming from a distance to focus on the retina at the back of the eye which is considered to be 22.22mm in length. Around +45 dioptres is provided by the cornea (the front, curved, clear part of the eye) and around +15 by the lens inside the eye. Problems occur with this system if any of these numbers differ from the norm.
Let’s start with the most common problem: Short-sightedness. Short-sightedness is correctly known as myopia, which means you can only see objects close to you: The closer you have to be, the more short-sighted you are. If you have myopia then objects at a distance create a blurry image on the back of the eye. This happens because the parts of the eye that bend the light rays are too strong or the eyeball is too long. When you get closer to the object, the light rays arriving at the eye start to diverge, which counteracts the ‘over convergence’ of the light rays and pushes the focus back onto the retina.
Someone who has a myopic prescription will have a minus figure at the start of their prescription, meaning the lenses in their specs (or contact lenses) are diverging: This counters the eye which is effectively over-plussed.
Now let’s get onto the more difficult one! Long-sightedness! Hyperopia (sometimes called Hypermetropia) is more difficult to explain. If short-sightedness means you can see things up close, then being long-sighted means you can see things far away, right? Well, not really… although sometimes, yes, that is true! Bear with us!
In this case those light rays coming from a distant object are focused behind the retina. This happens because the parts of the eye that bend the light are not strong enough and the eye effectively doesn’t have enough power to bring the rays to the correct point on the retina.
Some people with a relatively low amount of long-sightedness can see objects clearer if they are really far away – for example, we hear of sailors saying they can see a buoy on the horizon, but they struggle to see the TV, or an HGV driver who can see motorway signs in the distance but not the train times on the monitors at the station.
Someone who is long-sighted will have a plus figure at the start of their prescription, their lenses are plus powered (converging). This compensates for the fact that the eyeball is too short.
Ok, now let’s get into the tricky diagnosis: Astigmatism. If you have an astigmatism then your eyes don’t produce a single point focus, but actually produce two ‘line foci’. Effectively the eye has two different powers at 90 degrees to each other. This is caused most commonly by the cornea having two different curvatures. In an astigmatic eye the curvature of the cornea will vary: It will have two different curves, one steeper than the other, at 90 degrees to each other.
These curves mean that the eye may be more shortsighted in one meridian than the other, or more longsighted in one, or even long sighted in one and shortsighted in the other, which, as you can imagine, requires a more complex prescription.
Our eyes produce two images and send these back to your brain. These images are also upside down just to make things more complicated! So how do we see one of everything, the right way up?
Well, that relies on the precise co-ordination of both eyes and the fact that they both line up and point at the same object at the same time. The eyes do in fact produce two very slightly different images and that is how we perceive depth properly, but the difference between them is only slight. The images have to fall in corresponding areas on the right and left retinas for you to only see one of the object you are looking at. If the images fall partly or wholly outside these areas, the brain cannot match them up properly and they become blurred, or even double. The direction of gaze and how well controlled it is, is governed by six muscles around each eye which move left, right, up, down and obliquely. If you have a problem with one or more of those muscles, then it can mean that the images produced become too different from one another.
As the brain senses this mismatch it will tell the muscles to work harder to overcome the problem, sometimes they can but often this will lead to eyes feeling tired (it’s hard work!) or achy. Sometimes this can cause headaches too.
If we detect this issue in an eye examination, then in some circumstances we’ll prescribe prism. This allows the eyes to take up their comfortable position, thus removing the symptoms; and shifts the images on the retina, lining them up so the eyes don’t have to work so hard. In the vast majority of cases you wouldn’t know someone with prism has this correction as the deviation of their eyes is so small it’s not cosmetically noticeable.
You don’t need to worry too much about what your prescription says – that’s our job. But you do need to make sure you’re having regular check-ups to keep the information correct. Pop in and see us at any of our branches for an appointment so we can keep your sight crystal clear.
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!