Contact lenses are not created equally. There is no one-type-fits-all when it comes to using them in sports. Here’s how to find the right contact lenses for the workout that you do.
Contact lenses need to sit on a film of tears in order to be worn safely and comfortably, so sports that dry out the eyes, like cycling, skiing and hiking, can pose a problem and makes it hard to find the perfect workout contact lenses. If you struggle with dry eyes while doing these activities, Graham Erickson, an optometrist and Professor at the Pacific University College of Optometry in the US, recommends asking about gas-permeable contacts. They’re made from a more rigid plastic and don’t absorb moisture, which can ease dry eyes. If you prefer softer lenses, Graham suggests trying a moisture-retaining type which stays wetter longer.
All water, whether from the pool, ocean, or shower, potentially contains acanthamoeba, a parasite that can transfer from your lenses to your eyes and eat through the corneas, leading to blindness, warns Dr Thomas Steinemann, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. A quick squirt with lens cleaner may not remove the harmful organisms, so if you play water sports, wear goggles and opt for single-use lenses as your workout contact lenses, advises Dr Steinemann. After your swim, replace the pair you had with a fresh set.
If you take part in a hands-on sport like kickboxing or Krav Maga, opt for soft lenses, says Dr Christopher Rapuano, chief of cornea services at the Wills Eye Hospital in the US. Opt for daily-use lenses instead of extended-wear ones as your workout contact lenses. “Soft lenses are less likely than other types to fall out. If you do get hit in the eye, it’s going to be much less damaging than a harder one.” A second option is orthokeratology (overnight vision correction), which is the fitting of specially designed gas-permeable contact lenses that temporarily reshape your corneas while you sleep, so you can see clearly the following day. A caveat: Such lenses may increase the risk of infection, so be sure to discuss proper care techniques with your eye care professional.