SynergEyes Duette lenses offer the athlete stability and ease of use.
Alcon’s DAILIES TOTAL1 are great lenses for athletes that require simple spherical correction.
CooperVision’s clarity 1 day toric can improve acuity without compromising stability of vision.
1-DAY ACUVUE TruEye from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care provide high Dk along with excellent fit and comfort.

Yes, your active patients can wear contact lenses. Here’s what you both need to know.

Fitting contact lenses is a routine part of any optometrist’s daily patient care. We are lucky to have the opportunity to work with a wide variety of athletes in our practice. For these patients, there are several factors that come into play, which can make the difference between giving our athletic patients contact lenses that “do the job” vs. contact lenses that give them peak visual performance to enhance their game.

Contact lens companies are concerned with more than good vision, comfort and health. They design lenses that meet athletes’ unique demands. Our colleagues can use our experience fitting various athletes as a model to easily find contact lenses that may take their athletic patients to the next level.

The gold standard for sports vision is that whenever possible a daily disposable lens is always best. For ocular health reasons, our athletes are taught that if a lens feels uncomfortable or is unclear during play, throw the lens away, put in a drop of artificial tears (see page 20 for some recommendations), and start with a fresh lens. This is the quickest route back to clear, comfortable vision and can prevent further irritation or infections.

Silicone hydrogel daily disposables such as ACUVUE OASYS 1 Day Brand Contact Lenses from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care or DAILIES TOTAL1 from Alcon are great lenses for athletes who require simple spherical correction. Si-Hy lenses provide patients with the least chance of losing clarity in situations that cause dryness, such as windy environments, running back and forth or prolonged concentration (less blinking). Football, track, skiing and basketball are all sports for which we very often fit our athletic patients in these daily disposable lenses.

How and when should you pull the trigger on cylinder correction? There is no easy answer because every athlete will have a unique Rx and situation. Here are some basic rules to consider:

1. In small (less than 1.25D) amounts of astigmatism, can you improve acuity without compromising stability of vision? Athletes who may have a tilted head posture (such as a baseball player at bat, a shooter or a tennis player) are among those who require the most discrete acuity. But you must test vision with the head positioned as it would be during play. CooperVision’s clariti 1 day toric is one such daily Si-Hy toric currently available.

2. If rotation is an issue or the vision is not stable, it may be necessary to try hybrid lenses. We prefer to use SynergEyes Duette lenses due to their stability and ease of use.

3. Don’t shy away from correcting the cylinder if it provides clear and stable vision. However, consider testing dynamic or contrast acuity in addition to just static Snellen acuity to demonstrate the impact it has made on vision.

Swimmers are contact lens patients who technically shouldn’t be wearing contact lenses. These athletes should always be informed about the option of goggles that correct refractive error. In the event that they insist on contact lenses, educate them on proper care:

1. If water gets in their eyes, swimmers must use artificial tears to stabilize pH as much as possible.

2. Instill artificial tears post-swim, then wait five minutes to remove lenses to prevent damage from a “stuck-on” lens.

3. Throw lenses away. These athletes will be in a daily disposable modality. Due to the risk of not properly lubricating the lens prior to removal, avoid prescribing a lens with a high water content. 1-DAY ACUVUE TruEye from Johnson & Johnson and MyDay contact lenses from CooperVision are easily removed in this environment.

On the rare chance you get to work with a synchronized swimmer, consider the fact that they are not permitted to wear goggles during performances. We recently educated a junior Olympic level swimmer and her coaching facility that flushing the eye with milk is not the best way to get rid of redness and there are no such things as “swimming lenses.” Make sure to ask your athletes about their normal eyecare routines. Sometimes their answers will surprise you.

X-Chrom lenses from Art Optical can be used for more than color deficiencies. The lens is used monocularly on the non-dominant eye in order to intensify the color of red and green objects. Although golf comes to mind, other sports to consider are ones that require an athlete to discriminate between two different color jerseys quickly, such as football.

Fun fact: one color-deficient quarterback, Vinny Testaverde, challenged this argument. He pointed out that he did just fine winning his Heisman Trophy prior to being introduced to the X-Chrom lens. (But, we wonder if that had anything to do with the Bucs wearing white instead of orange for home games.)

Are there any specific recommendations for lenses to use or avoid in contact sports? Not exactly. SynergEyes points out that its lenses are less likely to pop out of the eye compared to RGP lenses due to the soft skirt of hybrid lens design. This is a great point and one of the reasons we have used them for some of our football players. The reality is that in almost any sport, eye injuries can occur. Prioritize education about when to remove lenses if an injury occurs and how to prevent injuries with protective gear when available. Did you know that male lacrosse players wear helmets and women often don’t? My female lacrosse patient knows to see me if she gets cross-checked in the face.

No matter which contact lens you choose for your athletes, connect the dots for them. Explain why you are choosing a specific lens option for them and how it directly relates to their game. Think of a golfer reading the greens or a baseball player looking for seams on a ball.  Consider even doing a local depth-perception test before and after your correction. Make sure they know you are giving them the MVP treatment, and they may turn out to be your best source of referrals. OO

Robert A. Davis, OD, and Amanda Nanasy, OD, are team doctors for the Miami Dolphins and in private practice at The Eye Center in Pembroke Pines, FL.


Alcon Laboratories
800.451.3937 |
Art Optical Contact Lens, Inc.
800.253.9364 |
CooperVision, Inc.
800.341.2020 |
Johnson and Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
800.843.2020 |
SynergEyes, Inc.
877.733.2012 |


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