Eye Health Central

Can I Play Rugby in Contact Lenses

What Are The Best Contact Lenses For Rugby?

When playing rugby, clear and focused vision is absolutely critical. Because so much body coordination begins with what the eyes see, it's vital to make sure your eyesight is as good as it can possibly be. Any improvements that can be made to your eyesight will have a direct improvement on your performance on the field.

For rough sports like rugby contact lenses are a clearly superior alternative to eyeglasses. However there are several factors that need to be understood before choosing the right lenses. Because of how different contact lenses are from eyeglasses, there are several features and functions unfamiliar to eyeglass wearers that need to be considered. There isn't one single contact lens for rugby players that's better than the rest. But because each lens and each person is different, you can narrow down your options and find the best lens for you based on your preferences and requirements.


What To Consider When Choosing Contact Lenses For Playing Rugby

The first thing to consider is wettability, the amount of tears on the surfaces of both the eyes and contact lenses. Each needs to be kept at an ideal level of wetness to remain comfortable and functional. Different contacts require different levels of moisture, and different environments can affect how moist your eyes are at any given time. Discuss with your eye doctor which options available to you will keep your eyes hydrated best.

Replacement schedule and cleaning regimen are also important. Some lenses are designed to be used every day for several weeks or months before being disposed of. They will require daily cleaning, and delicate care when not being worn. Unfortunately, even the best cleaning solutions can't remove all of the proteins and lipids that accumulate on the surface of the lens, and over time they may impede vision. For rugby players, daily disposable lenses are ideal. They are thrown out after a single use, and there's no need to clean or maintain them.

Unlike past contact lenses, modern contacts are very well suited for correcting astigmatism. They are designed to be slightly off balance, so they will naturally settle on your eye in the correct position to counter the astigmatism. Very precise fittings are required, with extra care taken to ensure they maintain proper orientation for all directions the eye can move. Rugby players move their heads and eyes quite a bit during a game, and lenses that move too much can cause vision problems at inconvenient moments.

It's very important to make sure that contact lenses remain comfortable at all times. Uncomfortable contacts will be a distraction, and can affect an athlete’s performance. They could even cause damage to your eyes. Certain environments are more likely to cause discomfort for contact lens wearers, like dusty outdoor conditions, or indoor air conditioning. Lenses that have lower levels of surface friction, and are more wettable are much more likely to remain comfortable while in action.

Like most other types of sporting equipment, contacts need to fit well to perform well. The fit of a contact lens will affect comfort, vision, and even eye health. A poor fitting lens can cause irritation, and blurred vision. Lenses shouldn't be too tight, or too loose. According to the BCLA (British Contact Lens Association) soft contact lenses are ideal for sport as they move less than RGP lenses and are less likely to be dislodged. If a lens moves too much on the eye, it can also cause light scatter, which is most notable in brightly lit environments.

Daily contact lenses are a great choice for rugby players, as there is no big concern over dirt build up, after a game you can simply use a fresh pair, and should you lose a lens during a game it's not as painful on the wallet to replace a daily lens as a monthly lens. We should mention here, it's always good to have a spare pair of lenses on standby during a game. It is not uncommon for monthly contact lens wearers to use daily contacts just for sport.

Ortho-Keratology Another Great Option For Rugby Players

Another option for Rugby players or sports players in general is Ortho-K this is where specially designed and fitted rigid gas-permeable (RGP) contact lenses is worn re shape the cornea in order to reduce or correct myopia, the contact lens is normally worn overnight so the eye is free of contact lenses during the day.

Female Rugby players

Women's International rugby player Laura Keates uses the Ortho- K method to correct her short-sightedness she recently told The Rugby Paper "It really works for me and I have 20/20 vision".

Although not suitable for everyone, it is painless and a great option for low myopes. For those people who have up to -4.00 dioptres of myopia and -2.00 dioptres of astigmatism, it can take a few visits to your optical practice to get it right, but if you fall within, or just outside these parameters it's definitely discussing this option with your Optometrist. 

If you play rugby or any physical sport regularly it is worth discussing your options with your Optometrist who will take a full history and help you choose the right lens and fit for you. The right contact lens may help improve your game. 

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 11 Sep 2016, Last modified: 15 Feb 2024