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    Prescribing contact lenses for athletes

    Atlanta—Athletes have many vision challenges, but contact lenses can meet many of their needs on the court, field, or pitch, says Niall Farnon, MCOptom, when he presented at SECO 2016.

    Athletes are not just limited to those of the collegiate or professional variety. This demographic can include everything from the teenage baseball player to the retired golf enthusiast. Discovering these athletes among your patients may open up a whole new avenue for your contact lens practice. 

    “This is a different market than your regular patients,” says Dr. Farnon of athletes’ vision needs. “But hopefully, you’ll see that it’s not too different—it’s just a matter of listening to the patient, his requirements, and what he needs, because nowadays, we certainly have the tools.”

    Check out all the latest contact lens and lens care advice in our resource center

    The advantages of contact lenses in sports

    Dr. Farnon says there are a number of advantages to wearing contact lenses vs. glasses for athletes:

    • Increased peripheral field (“Particularly in ball sports, it is vital that you be able to see who is around you—is it a competitor coming up toward me or is it a teammate?” says Dr. Farnon.)

    • No visual distortions (“With high-powered lenses, you may not get the image that the patient wants with glasses. Think of archery, shooting—he needs to see that target perfectly,” he says.)

    • Not affected by dirt or rain (“You can’t stop the game so you can wipe your spectacles,” he says.)

    • Fewer aberrations/fewer reflections (“A lot of sports are played under stadium lights, which can be quite harsh on the eyes, but if you take away that spectacle lens, you won’t have that problem,” says Dr. Farnon.)

    • Can offer UV protection

    • Reduces the risk of facial trauma due to lens fragments/frame edges

    • Allow for a full range of eyewear protection to be used

    • Disposability

    Related: Sports vision for the real world

    These advantages are something you need to keep in mind when you’re discussing contact lenses with your patients, says Dr. Farnon.

    “When it comes to athletes, even the small prescriptions should be corrected,” says Dr. Farnon. “Compared to your regular patients, you’ll need to fit athletes a lot sooner.”

    Next: What makes a happy contact lens patient

    Colleen E. McCarthy
    Colleen McCarthy is a freelance writer based in the Cleveland area and a former editor of Optometry Times. She is a 2010 graduate of the ...


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