An active lifestyle is an indispensable ingredient for sound health and vitality. For the most part, we require good eyesight to participate in sports and physical activities effectively and safely. Increasing life expectancy rates means that people live longer and are more likely to experience diminished vision due to age. Over half of people in the United States have one or more vision problems, including farsightedness, nearsightedness, and astigmatism. Contact lenses and glasses are the most popular ways of vision correction, but these devices can stand in the way of your physical activities.
Having your glasses on your nose as you play tennis or golf can be discomforting, and contacts may irritate your eyes if left on for too long. Needing vision correction does not have to impede or disrupt your physical activity. Here, we look at five tips to allow people with vision correction to get on with their physical activities.
Contact lenses rest on your eyes directly and may be used for vision correction or cosmetic purposes. For the most part, contacts are practical, and you won’t feel them in your eyes. They offer good peripheral vision and an obstructed field of view. They don’t get fogged in bad weather and provide highly stable vision. However, contact lenses require daily cleaning and can put wearers at risk of infection and vision loss if not cleaned properly. People who play sports with contact lenses may be at higher risk of infection as sweat and dirt from their activities can contaminate their lenses and get into their eyes.
The risk of infection from playing sports with contacts can be reduced by opting for daily contact lenses. Daily disposable contacts are contacts that you use and dispose of at the end of each day. There is less chance of buildup of harmful deposits and bacteria since you discard the contacts once you take them out. Using a fresh pair of contacts each time you want to play a game or partake in some physical activity is an effective way to play sports without your visual impairment causing a problem.
Regular glass lenses may break and injure your eyes if you use them for intense physical activities. You may use your regular glasses for non-contact sports like table tennis, cycling, or non-vigorous physical activity. Sport-friendly glasses allow you to enjoy an active physical life even if you have vision problems. These glasses have durable lenses, typically made from impact-resistant polycarbonate material. The frames of sport-friendly glasses are also sturdy and have a string that makes them stay fixed to the head. Speak with your eye doctor about your sporting needs when you get fitted for glasses.
Orthokeratology is a vision correction method that involves wearing overnight lenses that reshape the cornea to provide clear vision during the day. This technique is also known as corneal reshaping therapy (CRT) and is a safe, reversible option for correcting refractive errors. Ortho-K lenses are rigid gas permeable and custom-fitted to the individual’s cornea. You wear the lens at night, and it gently reshapes your cornea leaving you with crystal clear vision when you take them off in the morning. Ortho-K lets you avoid some drawbacks of glasses and contacts like fogging, dry eyes, irritation, allergies, and dislodged contacts. Ortho-K does not permanently reshape the cornea, so it slowly returns to its original curvature by the following evening. Consult your optometrist to determine whether you are a fit candidate for Ortho-K.
A permanent solution to your vision problems allows you to perform physical activity without restrictions. Surgical intervention will eliminate the need for glasses, contact lenses, and orthokeratology and their potential side effects when you play sports. Available surgical procedures for vision correction include:
Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is the most common laser surgery for vision correction. LASIK reshapes the cornea to allow light that enters the eye to focus correctly on the retina for clearer vision. It is a simple surgical procedure that lasts about 30 minutes with an instantly improved vision that continues to get better and stabilizes over a few days. LASIK involves creating a very thin flap in the cornea with a laser, folding the hinged flap backward to access the cornea, and removing corneal tissue with an excimer laser. The idea is to flatten the cornea in nearsighted people or create a steeper cornea in those with farsightedness. LASIK can also correct astigmatism by giving the cornea a more even shape using a laser.
Like all surgeries, undergoing LASIK comes with risks such as dry eyes, overcorrection, under-correction, flap problems, and vision loss.
Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) corrects vision by changing the cornea’s shape. It alters the contours of the cornea to allow it to bend light correctly. PRK may be a better option than LASIK for people who have active lifestyles, as the procedure does not require the creation of a flap. The flap from LASIK can move out of place if the eye gets hit during physical activity, even after healing.
LASEK surgery combines elements of LASIK and PRK to correct vision. The procedure involves reshaping the cornea using an excimer laser, allowing light to correctly focus on the retina for sharper vision.
You will need to undergo a comprehensive eye exam to determine your suitability for corrective surgery.
A simple way of living an active life without vision correction is to go without a vision correction aid. This is possible if your vision impairment is not severe and you can cope with the demands of the sport or activity without vision correction. Other elements of sports like a sense of positioning and spatial awareness can compensate for diminished eyesight and allow you to deliver an excellent performance.
Vision problems should not restrict you from playing the sport you love or engaging in your favorite pastime. Speak to your doctor about getting suitable eyewear options for you. If you are playing consistently or have plans to go pro, you should consider solving the problem permanently by getting vision correction surgery.