By Malcolm Hughes

Contact lenses for sport  which are designed using the long established optical science of Orthokeratology - or orthok for short - offer a better alternative than prescription goggles for short-sighted sports participants who enjoy games involving physical contact like rugby. The orthok lenses are only worn at night whilst sleeping before being removed each morning and correct short-sight by using the gentle pressure of closed eyelids to flatten the surface of the eyes. This flattening effect lasts for over 24 hours and ensures that light entering the eyes lands directly on the retina rather than in front of it. So orthok lens wearers enjoy the same benefits of clear daytime vision as people who have undergone laser treatment - but without the surgery.

This has become a topical issue following the controversy last August when the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) banned seven year old Ryan Totten from playing rugby in prescription goggles given a restriction which applies to all ages. Unsurprisingly, this story of how a rugby-mad youngster was being prevented from playing the game he loved made headlines everywhere and painted the IRFU in a very unflattering light. Now the IRFU has responded by agreeing to participate in a World Rugby trial which is assessing new designs of prescription goggles which are better suited to rugby. However, the alternative option of wearing the overnight orthok contact lenses for sport  could provide an even better solution.

Jo McGilchrist  was one of the stars of the England Women's Rugby World Cup winning team in 2014 and retired following the tournament after a glittering career in which she played more than 50 times for her country. She is clear that being able to wear orthok contact lenses for sport  made a huge difference to her career given that goggles were not an option and normal daytime contact lenses are a real problem for rugby players: "I was able to play knowing that my vision was 100% and not worrying that a contact lens would come out during a tackle or a scrum." So whilst the IRFU await the outcome of the World Rugby trial, short-sighted players can now try out orthok lenses for themselves.

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