Specs and Sport – the latest innovations and advice from the experts

Most sports require strong vision. So for anyone with an eye condition, such as short sightedness where a prescription corrective lens is required, they will be looking for the best options to correct their vision. 

Many people opt for practical contact lenses or laser eye surgery, but there are thousands of people – including professional sports personalities – whose condition means their only option is to wear prescription glasses. One of the most prevalent conditions where glasses are best is Dry Eye Syndrome – which affects around one in four people in the UK and has increased in the past 12 months. Most eye infections also mean contact lenses must be avoided.


Glasses and playing sport might not naturally go hand-in-hand, but footballer Edgar Davids, cricketer Daniel Vettori, tennis player Martina Navratilova and F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve are amongst a number of highly successful sports people who became synonymous with wearing glasses whilst competing. Proving that the right lenses can be essential for performance right up to a professional level.

Prescription lens development is an area of ongoing innovation, not only on the types of frames that cater for sports people – from those playing football and cycling – but to the type of lenses that can give a competitive advantage, and there are a range of lens solutions optimally designed for sporting environments. This includes outdoors, where sports are frequently played. 

Optical expert Dr Andy Hepworth from Essilor.co.uk explains why specialist glasses should be an essential part of your sports kit, and focuses in on the latest lenses that can transform your game. 

“If you’re first foray back on the golf course, tennis court or cricket pitch has left you feeling that your eyesight is hindering your game, choosing the right lenses for your sport can make all the difference.

“It’s easy to think of a pair of glasses as an inconvenience whilst playing sport, but they can in fact help enhance performance by making vision sharper, clearer and reactions quicker, as well as reducing risk of injury and providing vital UV protection.

Here are some essential things to consider when choosing your lenses for sport.

Is glare impacting your game?

“Many summer sports are enjoyed outdoors but bright light and glare from the sun can make it difficult for you to see clearly, especially if you’re playing on or near water.

Polarised lenses are specifically designed to reduce glare, by filtering out the bright horizontal light that reflects off a flat surface – only letting vertical light flow through the lens. They also offer a high level of UV protection and can improve colour perception – which can be very helpful when trying to identify other players or the ball in bright light conditions. The majority of International Cricketers are often seen wearing sunglasses.

Are you struggling to see clearly near and far?

“If being able to see different distances causes you problems, you might require specialist  varifocal glasses for sport. Varilux X lenses provide sharp, comfortable vision when looking near, far or in between. This will really enhance your vision if you need to see players at the other end of the field, as well as your opponent stood close to you – or if you’re zoning in on that tennis ball or shuttlecock. Varilux lenses can also be optimised for wrap-around Xperio sports sunglasses which are ideal for running, rowing and cycling.

Are changing light conditions hindering your performance?

“A day on the golf course, cricket pitch or even a few rounds of tennis could leave you experiencing constantly changing light conditions if the sun keeps going in and out. Rather than squinting or constantly changing between sunglasses and glasses, choose lenses which automatically adapt to the light. Transitions lenses are ideal for sports in changing light conditions as they will only allow the optimal amount of light to reach your eyes, whether in bright sunlight, cloudy conditions or anything in between.

Are you constantly squinting?

“Many people have neglected their eye sight over the past 12 months and missed regular check ups and appointments. It’s probably been a good few months since you last played your favourite sport, so if you are finding yourself squinting, or struggling to see clearly then it could be time to get your eyes tested. Squinting and straining your eyes can lead to vision fatigue and dry eye syndrome so it is important to get your eye sight checked out. Your optician will be able to provide advice on the right glasses and lenses for your sport so take that into account when choosing new frames.

Don’t forget to protect your glasses from wear and tear

“If you’re wearing glasses for sport regularly then they could be subject to wear and tear so consider a lens enhancements to help prolong their life. Crizal’s scratch resistant coating is ideal if you’re particularly sporty and active. Not only will it protect against scratches, smudges and dust; its hydrophobic technology repels water keeping the lenses clear when playing or working out, outdoors.”

For more information on Essilor’s range or specialist lenses and for eyecare advice visit www.essilor.co.uk

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