Myopia Management for Athletes

Editor: Dr. Russel Lazarus, Published January 11, 2021

Rarely do you think about your eyes when preparing for a big game… until your glasses slip off your face or your contact lenses pop out the moment you plan to execute that jaw dropping game-winning move.

If you’d like to prevent future “eyewear accidents”, you may want to consider ortho-k lenses. Ortho-k contact lenses gently reshape the curvature of the eye to improve near vision and control myopia progression. 

Eyeglasses can get foggy while you sweat, slide down your nose, and may even obstruct your peripheral vision.

Contact lenses are less of a physical hindrance when compared to glasses, but they too can cause problems while you are trying to focus on your game. Contact lenses can dry out and cause blurred vision, move out of place and cause discomfort, and even dislodge from your eye when you least expect it.

Moreover, if you have eye allergies, wearing contact lenses can make your allergy symptoms worse, and even make contact lens wear impossible.

Ortho-k can provide clear, comfortable and stable vision throughout the day, without the need for daytime eyewear— and may just be the perfect solution if sports are an important part of your day. 

What is ortho-k?

Ortho-k lenses are gas-permeable contact lenses that are worn while you sleep, and removed in the morning.

Ortho-k lenses are designed to float on top of the eye’s tear film and apply gentle, water-based (hydraulic) pressure to the front layer of the cornea, called the epithelium.

The hydraulic pressure causes the epithelial cells to move away from the center of the cornea to the periphery, leading to a temporary reshaping of the cornea and correction of the refractive error.

How can you benefit from Ortho-k?

Ortho-k provides clear, stable vision throughout the day, without the need for daytime optical correction.

Ortho-k lenses enable you to focus on your sports performance without having to think about your glasses falling off your face, getting lost or broken or your contact lenses remaining comfortably in your eyes.

Ortho-k is especially beneficial for swimmers who are limited to their goggles, and are not able to wear glasses or contact lenses in the pool.

Ortho-k is not only an option for vision correction, but is also used to control myopia progression in children and teenagers. Therefore, wearing ortho-k lenses will not only help you to be free of daytime eyewear, but can also slow down or even prevent your myopia from worsening— a problem that can lead to serious eye diseases in the future.

Ortho-k vs. LASIK surgery

Many athletes choose LASIK surgery to permanently correct their refractive error and free themselves of fulltime eyewear.

LASIK delivers a permanent change to your eyes, however with ortho-k the effects are temporary and risks are minimal.

Certain complications can also arise following LASIK surgery, such as chronic dry eye, light sensitivity, glare, astigmatism, poor corneal healing and corneal thinning.

These potential complications can cause long term or even permanent vision changes and could even mark the end of an athlete’s career.

Moreover, LASIK surgery is not an option until age 21, after the eyes have completely developed. Therefore, ortho-k has become the most preferred method of vision correction for budding teenage athletes.

Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor who has experience with ortho-k to learn more about ortho-k and find out if these lenses are right for you.