Are you the parent of a young athlete that struggles with their eye-sight? Vision challenges like nearsightedness, or myopia, are a common obstacle in the way of a child excelling at their favorite sport. How do you address these challenges to help your child succeed on the field?
When it comes to vision correction, there are multiple options for nearsighted patients. Each option has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, so it is up to you and your child to decide which is the right fit.
“Clear vision is not only important for improving and developing skills in sports, it is critical from a safety perspective as well. Many sports involve contact and, in order to prevent injury, we need to see clearly to help avoid collisions and even fall correctly.”
- Richard Ruth, BSc Optom, BComm, MCOptom
Prescription Sports Glasses:
A common choice is sports glasses because they are easy for children to use. These are prescription glasses with rigid frames and a hardened polymer lens to reduce the chance of injury upon collision. However, in a survey of young athlete’s parents, 30% felt their child was restricted from playing sports or performing in sports to the best of his/her ability when wearing glasses.1
- Ease of use – This is important for a lot of families. Prescription glasses are simple. No complicated application process and no necessary cleaning rituals. Just put them on and go.
- Protection from dust – It definitely serves as a benefit that these glasses keep dirt from getting into your child’s eyes. This is especially useful for athletes playing baseball, where sliding in the dirt is quite common.
- Sweating – glasses can be hot and sweaty. Not only is it uncomfortable for your child to play with sweat in their eyes, it can also obscure their vision through the glasses.
- Reduced peripheral vision – These glasses often come with a small, flat, centered lens resulting in obscured peripheral vision that is imperative for most athletic activities.
- Smudging and Fogging– As with normal glasses, when sports glasses get splattered with mud, fogged or wet they will significantly obscure vision until cleaned.
- Reduced compatibility with safety equipment – in many sports, such as baseball and football, protective headgear must be worn. Sports glasses often interfere with the fit and comfort of these safety devices.
Daily Disposable Soft Contacts
These are commonly recommended for athletes and they address many of the concerns posed by sports glasses. Daily disposable lenses are usually thought to be a better choice for sports than monthly or GP lenses. In fact, 86% of children athletes who participated in a research poll say that they feel better about their ability to participate in sports when wearing contact lenses vs. glasses2. But despite their advantages over glasses, they can still come with some game-breaking drawbacks:
- Low maintenance – because these lenses are disposable, your child does not need to develop a routine of cleaning and caring for their lenses.
- Unrestricted peripheral vision – soft contact lenses fit directly over the eye, this allows complete peripheral vision
- No obstructive frames - glasses frames can get in the way and can shift or slide around with quick movements. With soft contacts this is not a concern.
- Dry-eyes – Many doctors will agree that this is the most common complaint from wearers of daytime contacts. The discomfort can be distracting, especially among athletes that may be running around outdoors or in a situation where wind is blowing over the eye.
- Incompatible with water sports – engaging in water-based activities while wearing contacts presents significant risks of serious eye infections to your child. For more information see “KEEP YOUR CONTACT LENSES OUT OF THE SWIMMING POOL”.
- Dust/dirt in your eye – Getting dust in your eyes is common for all outdoor sports, and though it can be distracting, the blink cycle and natural tear flushing can clean out your eye in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, as contact lens wearers will note, dust can easily become trapped under a contact lens causing vision impairment, significant discomfort, and even abrasions to the eye.
- Lost or dislodged lens – In many sports, especially impact sports like football, basketball and soccer, the possibility of losing a contact lens is high. Make sure you are ready on the sidelines for frequent replacements or adjustments to your child’s contacts if you are planning to go this route.
Orthokeratology Lenses like Paragon CRT®
Overnight contacts like Paragon CRT® are growing in popularity among athletes for several reasons. The main one being that they offer complete freedom from the on-field restraints of any other daytime vision corrective treatment.
Paragon CRT® lenses are different from traditional contacts in that they are worn overnight and gently correct a child’s vision while they sleep. In the morning, the lens is removed allowing young athletes the benefit of clear vision throughout the day without the need of glasses or daytime lenses.
Because the contacts are only worn at night, there are no downsides to athletes during the day. There are a few things that parents should keep in mind when choosing this vision treatment option.
- Freedom from daytime vision corrective lenses – Your child does not have to wear anything during the day and will benefit from clear vision through their natural eye-sight.
- No dry eyes – Your child is not wearing corrective lenses during the day, so the dry-eyes that are usually associated with contact lenses are not a concern for CRT patients.
- No obstructive frames – Your child will have no need for corrective frames on the field, so you don’t need to worry about obstructed peripheral vision or broken glasses.
- No lost contacts on the field – Since Paragon® CRT lenses are worn at night and removed during the day, there is no risk that your child will lose their contacts while playing sports.
- Consistency – A child needs to develop a routine of applying the lenses every night before bed if they want to benefit from crisp vision the next day.
- A progressive adaptation - Treatment for higher prescriptions can take up to a week of overnight wear before stable vision correction is achieved all day.
- Proper care needed – Children need to remember to properly clean and disinfect their lens every morning and night.
- Limited to Nearsightedness – Glasses and most soft contacts can fit children of a very wide variety of prescriptions. Paragon CRT® is only FDA approved for prescriptions up to -6.00 D. Your eye care professional can tell you if your child is a Paragon CRT® candidate.
Each vision treatment comes with its own set of benefits and disadvantages, but after weighing the benefits and disadvantages many parents agree that Orthokeratology lenses like Paragon CRT® seem to be the best option for most athletes that are candidates.
“My son Lucas has worn glasses since 1st grade. Glasses, even recreation glasses became a huge problem when he started playing tackle football. Helmets are just not made for glasses and we suffered through discomfort, fogging lenses and broken glasses, until we found Paragon CRT® lenses. Lucas was fit with CRT lenses when he was 11 and it was a game changer, literally! He has great vision during the day without the need for glasses or soft contact lenses and can be as active with whatever sports he chooses.”
- Amber, Mother of a 12-year-old athlete
Paragon CRT® has none of the drawbacks that traditional vision treatments present to athletes. In addition to crisp, clear vision, Paragon CRT® offers complete freedom from daytime contacts and glasses.
Find a certified eye care professional near you and ask about Paragon CRT®
- Parent’s & Children’s Views & Attitudes About Vision Correction, online survey conducted 15 April – 12 May, 2013 by Mumsnet on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care (n= 1,014)
- Are Contact Lenses A Good Choice For Kids? Gary Heiting, OD, April 2017, AllAboutVision.com