Are glasses affecting your physical activity? Contact lenses might suit your lifestyle better. Here’s how to find the best fit for your sport.

Australians love their sport, and there’s no reason vision problems should get in the way of being active. But are contact lenses as safe as eyeglasses for sports? Yes – in fact, they’re probably better. For active people who need vision correction, contact lenses allow greater freedom and performance than glasses.

The benefits of wearing contact lenses when you’re playing sport include:

  • Better peripheral vision, meaning you can see the ball and competitors alongside you without turning your head.
  • A clear field of view without obstruction from glasses frames – plus, since contact lenses cover more of your field of vision than glasses, Bupa optometrist Karen Makin says you might actually perform better.
  • Avoiding fog or splatter – glasses tend to fog up when you’re raising your body temperature in cold weather, and if you’re playing in muddy conditions, splatter is a risk.
  • No risk of glasses constantly slipping down your nose – this is especially useful in sports requiring fast movements where adjusting your glasses could distract you.
  • The ability to wear sunglasses or safety equipment, meaning you can protect your eyes from the sun while playing cricket, for example, or from impact in activities such as squash. 

For active kids and teenagers in particular, contact lenses can be a blessing. Lenses allow sporty kids to participate without the inconvenience of dealing with glasses (and potentially losing their specs). More information about contact lenses for kids and teens is available here.

What type of contact lenses are best?

To a large extent, this will depend on the type of sport you play. As a general rule, “soft contact lenses are usually the preferred lens for sport, because hard lenses are more rigid and can pop out of the eyes more easily”, says Makin.

Transitions contact lenses, which darken in the sun and lighten when you’re indoors, can be a convenient option for outdoor activities such as cycling or running. For more information, click here

“If you don't like Transitions lenses or they’re not suitable for you, ask your optometrist about a contact lens that has a UV blocker,” Makin says. However, you’ll still need to wear sunglasses or sunscreen to protect the area around your eyes, she adds.

For sports involving dirty or muddy conditions, such as football, daily wear contact lenses might be the best option, as you can simply dispose of the lenses after the game, avoiding hygiene risks from wearing dirty lenses. In endurance sports where handling can be inconvenient, such as mountain climbing or hiking, extended wear lenses are a great choice.

What about water sports?

Optometrists are often asked: is it safe to wear contact lenses while swimming? Whether you’re swimming in the ocean or a swimming pool, Makin recommends either wearing goggles or removing your lenses.

“There is a small risk of picking up an infection from the water,” she says.

However, it’s okay to leave your lenses in for water sports such as surfing and sailing where your eyes are shut during any water exposure.

We are here to help, ask your optometrist if you have any questions about contact lenses or book a contact lens fit or refresh appointment today.