By Malcolm Hughes

Overnight contact lenses  worn only while sleeping could become the new ‘go-to' treatment for short-sighted sports participants, especially those playing contact sports like rugby. When the annual 6 Nations tournament puts rugby on the newspaper front pages, it is worth noting that many enthusiastic players struggle with short-sightedness. Typically, they find conventional daytime contact lenses a source of problems given how easily they are displaced or lost during matches or even when just training. Even for top level players, short-sightedness is a problem. Jo McGilchrist was a member of the triumphant England Women's World Cup winning team last year and champions overnight contact lenses after years of struggling with daily disposables.

Richard Beck is a back row forward with Yorkshire Carnegie from the Rugby Championship and, like Jo, is another enthusiastic supporter of overnight contact lenses - he even recommended that his sister be fitted with them. He attributes some of his success as a professional rugby player to the switch he made to overnight contact lenses : "Overnight lenses have had a massive effect on my career, allowing me to play without worrying about losing a lens and knowing I will have perfect vision for the whole game. They also have a big effect on daily life. I used to have to wear glasses to drive and watch TV but with the lenses I no longer need the glasses."

The small, custom-designed lenses correct short-sightedness by gently flattening the surface of the eye using just the mild pressure of closed eyelids during sleep. Short-sightedness develops when the eyeball lengthens over time due to genetic or environmental reasons or a combination of both. Then when light from distant objects enters the eye, it focuses in front of the retina rather than directly on it meaning that the objects appear blurred. Overnight contact lenses  reverse this elongation thus correcting the short-sightedness. The effect lasts for over 24 hours until the lenses are reinserted at night so the effect is the same as for the main benefit proposed in favour of laser surgery - natural daytime vision - except that no surgery is required.

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