By Jacqui Mayhew
Contact lenses for sport worn only while sleeping offer short-sighted participants in contact sports such as rugby and boxing a new effective alternative to laser surgery. The new lenses work by gently flattening the surface of the eye overnight to ensure light focuses directly on the retina rather than in front of it. After the lenses are removed each morning, the wearer has clear natural vision throughout the day until the lenses are reinserted at night. The way the lenses work is known as orthokeratology or ortho-k and it is becoming a well-established treatment for people of all ages who are short-sighted and especially those who participate in contact sports.
Recently, Harlequins Director of Rugby Conor O'Shea underwent laser surgery after grappling with the problem of wearing conventional daytime contact lenses as a player. He says: "Wearing contact lenses you run the risk of losing one on the pitch. On many occasions I‘d have to try and get a lens back in place or wait while a spare was brought on for me." However, Jo McGilchrist, one of the leading players for England Women and a member of last year's World Cup Final team opted for overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses for sport rather than laser surgery. She says: "Overnight contact lenses provide me with better vision when I remove them in the morning than glasses or ordinary contact lenses previously have. I am now able to play a full rugby match knowing that my vision is 100% and not worrying that a lens might come out during a tackle or scrum."
Whilst LASIK - the most common laser eye surgery procedure - is a proven effective treatment for short-sightedness with low complication rates, the nature of the procedure still poses risks for contact sports participants. During surgery, a flap is created on the cornea which enables the laser to reshape the surface of the eye in order to correct the identified eyesight deficiency. Only after an extended break following surgery should post-LASIK individuals then return to contact sports such as rugby given the possible risk of dislodging the flap if it is not completely healed. As an alternative, overnight ortho-k contact lenses for sport carry no risk and enable rugby players or boxers to participate fully in their activity with clear natural vision.
Check if you are suitable for overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses for sport .