The New Year will soon be upon us, and many resolutions will be made. Market analysts Drive Research found that in 2022, 39% of New Year’s resolutions involved improving fitness, and another 37% made losing weight a goal. Meanwhile, 81% of respondents said they’d look to improve their mental health, and as we know, endorphins can go a long way to lightening the dark European winters.
This will no doubt include many folks with eyesight issues who’d normally wear glasses. Around 48% of Europeans wear glasses, with that figure rising past 60% in ten countries and topping 70% in Belgium and North Macedonia. While it’s fairly obvious one shouldn’t wear glasses in a swimming pool (although prescription goggles are available should one need them) or in combat sports, where the extreme risk of breakage would make them actively dangerous to the wearer, gym training is a little different.
Experienced lifters will have their own eyesight regimens. Some will leave their glasses in the locker, and some will wear an elasticated strap to secure them to their head lest they get slippy and fall off due to sweat. Nobody wants to lose an expensive pair of glasses under a passerby’s foot, or even worse, a weight! Some will wear contact lenses when training. Let’s take a minute to work out the pros and cons of doing so.
There’s a school of thought that surmises contacts are a safer option for training, even outside of the obvious physical aspects of breaking glasses. Glasses limit your peripheral vision via the frames and legs getting in the way of your line of sight – think like the pillars in a car, where modern vehicles have many more blind spots than those of twenty years ago.
Contacts move with the eye and give you the full picture. Contacts don’t fog up in the heat of a sweaty gym. They don’t get in the way of wearing headphones or earbuds if you’re using music to focus or zone out. They mean you don’t have to downshift your pace or intensity on the treadmill for fear of them bouncing off. Contacts don’t suffer from the glare one can get under lights from glasses, which can cause eyestrain and headaches in the medium term. While anti-reflective coatings can be applied to spectacle lenses, they can scratch, and some people can even be allergic to them.
Not all contacts are suitable to exercise in. They can fall out, and if a monthly-wear lens gets lost, that’s a significant financial hit as well as a big inconvenience. Sweat running down the forehead into the eyes can displace a lens and irritate the eye. European rates of contact lens wear are quite low, with 11 countries surveyed last year showing a take-up rate of only 6.6% of the 15-64 demographic most likely to be found in gyms. However, that number is rising, which is good news. New technology in contact lenses includes lenses made with a wetting agent, which lets more oxygen into the eye – important in an air-conditioned gym with little fresh air, certainly during winter – and avoids infection.
Wearing weekly or monthly lenses will involve having a little more kit in your bag than usual. You should never attempt to put a contact lens back in that’s fallen onto a floor or even a sweaty training top. A saline cleaning solution and a carrying case are essential to ensure that the lens doesn’t go back into the eye until it’s free of contaminants. However, daily disposable lenses are now made for most prescriptions and often retail for less than €2 a pair, meaning you can throw a few spare sets in the kit bag in case of such instances.
A big part of working out is feeling comfortable enough to perform the task. If someone does wear corrective lenses for every other facet of life, having impaired vision isn’t going to make them feel any easier about strenuous activity, particularly if they’re a newbie. Contacts are considered safe to train in, and many pro athletes take to the field in contact lenses when glasses wouldn’t be practical. If you’re a seasoned gym-goer, it might be time to take a look. For those of us who are considering a lifestyle change, contacts are an easy win along the way to new challenges.