Contact Lenses: An Athletes Guide to Safety and Performance

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April is the time period where three of the most popular sport seasons align. Basketball and hockey came to an end mid-month while the MLB ramped up with home openers across the country.

While there are millions of sports fans across the nation there are an equal if not greater number of individuals with vision impairment. According to the National Eye Institute there are more than 11 million Americans that have an uncorrected visual impairment that can impact quality of life.

So whether you are a professional athlete or playing for a recreational team it is likely that your vision is a key component to your success on the field. Advances in technology and manufacturing have allowed for great improvements to prescription sunglasses for athletes, but contact lenses are often a preferred alternative. Sports eyeglasses can be made with large, wraparound-style lenses, but contacts can offer the best unobstructed peripheral vision essential for many sports.

Here are a few other benefits and safety tips to keep in mind. Contact lenses…

  • Are affected less by environmental elements:
    • Contacts usually remain clear regardless of environment or weather conditions such as rain.
    • It is as important to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays, as it is to safeguard your skin. The ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun can damage sensitive cells in your eyes and can eventually affect your vision.  Ask your optometrist about UV blocking contact lenses such as Acuvue Oasys – found on Eyeconic.
    • The more active your workouts, the greater chance your eyeglasses can slip, capture sweat or pose limitations. With contact lenses, you can participate more freely in your workout. Proclear 1 day and Proclear 1 day Multifocal lenses are the only daily disposable contact lenses made with a unique material that naturally attracts water and keeps lenses feeling fresh and hydrated all day. They are perfect for gym-goers because they eliminate the need to pack a gym bag with a lens case or contact solution.
  • Help give a better peripheral scope:
    • You need peak performance from your entire body to be competitive at whatever sport you take on – this especially includes your eyes. Contact lenses can enhance your ‘sport vision’ which ideally is an unbarred view of your surroundings.
    • However with contact lenses athletes lose the protective factor that sports goggles provide. It’s recommended that even if a person wears contacts, that he or she also wears protective sports goggles when the activity calls for it.
  • Provide less chance of injury:
    • Contact lenses offer better compatibility with safety equipment. Sports with bats and or airborne balls at eye level have the most eye-related injuries. This includes basketball, baseball, lacrosse, field hockey, tennis and soccer. Sports considered to be low risk are both track and field and swimming. Wearing eyeglasses can pose a higher risk if they shatter during an activity although glasses made with polycarbonate plastic are significantly more shatter-resistant than the others.
    • While water sports are considered lower risk activities, if you are looking at wearing contacts for these aquatic sports please consult with your optometrist first. Exposing contact lenses to water may increase the risk of eye infection. Protective goggles might also be needed.

More than 42,000 sports-related eye injuries occur each year. According to Prevent Blindness America, an estimated 90 percent of these injuries could have been avoided. No matter whether you’re wearing contacts or frames, it’s important to always practice safety above all.

Contact lenses can be a great addition to your athletic lifestyle or sports season, but please do consult with your optometrists first to determine if contacts are the right fit for you. Children as young as seven years old can be fitted and taught how to properly insert contact lenses but parents are encouraged to monitor younger children to make sure they’re using the contacts correctly.

There are more options in sports eyewear today than ever before. As you’re preparing for your or a loved one’s sports season visit VSP’s online optical store Eyeconic for your contact lenses needs. VSP members, check out Eyeconic to see if you can buy contacts with your VSP benefits. Eyeconic carries all the popular brands and enjoy free shipping on all purchases.

* Content in part provided by CooperVision

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