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Dealing with Contacts During a Match

Q. I’ve been trying to wear contact lenses over the winter in preparation for those warm and humid days in the Northeast that are just around the corner. Many of the newer high H2O contacts are comfortable to wear around the house, but on the tennis court it takes me a moment or two to regain focus after blinking, which, of course, is not a good thing when an 80-plus mph serve is flying at you. I’d appreciate hearing about any good or bad experiences with contact lenses on the court. (By the way, I’m not at all interested in the LASIK solution).

From Al C. of Tucson, AZ

I had similar problems with contacts, especially with lobs. The answer that has worked well for me is Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT). This a relatively new non-surgical treatment for myopia with or without mild astigmatism. It involves wearing special gas permeable lenses while you sleep. This reshapes your cornea and allows you to see clearly without contact lenses during the day. The only problem is that you need to continue wearing the lenses (at night) as the correction diminishes with time. There was an initial few nights of mild discomfort as I got used to the lenses and several weeks where there were some ‘halos’ around lights at night, but this is now resolved.

From Michelle B. of Pittsburgh, PA

If you have astigmatism, the soft lenses may not sit properly on your eyes. I had the same problem as you with the movement of the lenses. However, gas permeable lenses work beautifully for me. They are smaller, easier to insert and remove and improve my vision more than the soft lenses. I highly recommend the gas permeable lenses. They are worth the maintenance.

From Stan R. of Tampa, FL

I have the same problem, but mostly my contacts (soft lenses) blur when I am running when it’s cold outside. I am a healthcare professional and have worn contact lenses for over 30 years. I started with hard lenses and switched to several different brands of soft lenses over the years. When I first started wearing soft lenses, I had trouble with them slipping around on my eyes. This problem had nothing to do with tennis but was due to a bad fit. The lenses would “float” up and down with each blink.

Only through trial and error did I finally get the proper fit. A lens with a steeper curve did the trick. At least, that solved problems with routine daily wear. I still have problems with my eyes getting blurry if I run when it is cold outside. But, I don’t know if any contact lens can overcome this, at least for me. This problem seems to be related to the function of the eye itself, not improper fit of the contact lenses.

You didn’t say how long you have been wearing contact lenses. If you just started, my suggestion to you is to first make sure you have the proper fit, since you said the problem was related to blinking, not running. FYI, I recently switched from ACUVUE to Proclear by CooperVision because I was having trouble with dry eyes.

From Keith K. of Simi Valley, CA

I dealt with contact lens problems for six years and never found a solution. My recommendation is to stop fighting the LASIK solution. I had it done in January and it made an immediate difference in my return of serve. Also, I’m now able to sustain (visual) focus through extended volley exchanges. I’m just sorry that I didn’t do it sooner.

From Jackie S. of Woodridge, IL

I, too, have contact lens issues (eyes OK at home, dry on the court). I have very dry eyes and my doctor recommended Systane Lubricant Eye Drops to use when I’m not wearing my contacts. It’s available over-the-counter, but it’s more viscous than typical eye drops, so you can’t use this when you have your contacts in. I’m not sure if you wear your contacts all the time–I only wear mine for sports–so I use Systane all the time when I don’t have my contacts in. They have made a big difference on the court. My eyes seem more hydrated and my contacts are much more comfortable. My doctor also recommended Blink eye drops to use with my contacts. They seem to hydrate my contacts for a longer period of time than other eye drops for contacts. Good luck!

From Robert Garrucho of San Leandro, CA, USPTA

I used to wear glasses until it became difficult to play because they move quite a bit, especially if you hit a shot on the run. I then switched to contacts. They would have worked if my eyes didn’t dry up too quickly. I considered LASIK at one point but got scared because of some horror stories I’ve heard, not to mention the prohibitive cost if you want to go to a reputable doctor. After researching, I found Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT). This is a special gas permeable lens that you only wear when you go to sleep. When you wake up in the morning, you take them off like any contact lens. Throughout the day you’ll have the clear vision you want. At the end of the day, before going to sleep, you put them on again. I’ve worn these for two years now, and they’ve been working for me so far. Check with your eye doctor, or look for a doctor in your area at www.paragoncrt.com.

From Stacey of Olympia, WA

I have been wearing contacts for several years. My eye doctor recommended switching to the new contacts this year. I tried them and had the same focusing problem you described. I went back to my ACUVUE 2 lenses and do not have focusing problems any longer. Ask your eye doctor for sample pairs and try to find the lenses that work best for you. There are many options.

From Janet S. of Americus, GA

One of the problems I had with contacts (before my LASIK surgery, sorry!) was having them fog up in warm weather. I also used to have problems playing at night. I would see auras around the lights, which caused problems when I tried to serve and hit overheads.

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