To enjoy sports, your eyes need to be as fit as your body. 

17. March 2016


Physical fitness for the eye is a concept that extends far beyond the traditional concepts of correcting eye defects through contact lenses or spectacles.  Enhanced visual skills can give an athlete a competitive edge. 

Studies carried out on professional athletes have found that they not only have superior body speed and coordination, but that they also have enhanced visual skills.

These skills include eye coordination, speed of focus and depth perception. What is also significant for all athletes, from school students to amateur sports participants, is that these skills can be taught.

The latest approach to sports vision is that if professional athletes have superior skills, then we know that members of the general public are able to improve their visual skills and therefore perform better on the sports field, golf course or tennis court. Visual skills aren't exclusive to top athletes.

80  % of all information processed by the brain when playing sport is processed through the visual system. Studies had shown that improved visual processing capability could engage an athlete's judgment and hence reaction times.

Special Vision Examinations

A typical examination covers issues such as eye mobility, depth perception, peripheral vision, eye coordination, speed of recognition and the ability to follow an object at speed with accuracy.

The good news is that these skills develop as we mature and if an optometrist finds that they haven't developed to the level that is needed then they can be improved through a visual enhancement program.

Sports Vision Eyewear

Sport vision optometrists would generally advise that contact lenses are preferable to glasses, particularly at the higher levels of sporting performance.  There are some circumstances though, when glasses can offer a higher degree of protection.

Contact Lenses 

Contact lenses give a greater field of vision, as peripheral vision is not obstructed as it can be with some spectacle frames. They also don't fog up, fall off or get coated with rain mud or dust.   For the majority of sports, they are the best option. 

Laser eye surgery 

This is the most simple option  and also the most cost effective in long perspective. Modern no-touch no-cut laser eye surgery allows return to even the most vigorous sport field within one week. 

Specialist Frames & Eyewear 

For people who prefer not to wear contact lenses, or go through laser eye surgery as Flow 2.0  there is a wide choice of specialist frames to cater for the majority of sports. These include swimming goggles to frames for rifle and pistol shooters. Swimming goggles can have an optical prescription ground into the lens. Rifle and pistol shooters can enjoy a lens that is positioned so that the shooter sights through the centre, rather than the edge of the lens as would be the case with conventional frames.

For high risk sports such as squash, where players are at risk of suffering eye injury from balls, racquets, hands and elbows, moulded polycarbonate frames and lenses that will not shatter or break are recommended. These can be fitted with comfort bridges and cushions to further minimise the risk of injury.