Swimming With Contact Lenses

by Rebecca

I was wondering if you would be able to comment on us near-sighted athletes, who need contacts to see anything as far as the swimming portion.

I am worried that if I were to get my goggle knocked or lose suction, I will either have to put up with frustrating eye irritation the rest of the competition, or lose my contact altogether (which means I can't read the signs or see people or things in general).

Do you know anyone who has had to deal with this? If so, what are some helpful tips and solutions to dealing with being severely nearsighted but still wanting to do well at triathlon?

Thanks so much!
~Basically Blind Becky

Intelligent Triathlon Training (Massively Myopic Mark!) replies:

As someone who has the same problems I can sympathise totally!

Racing with contacts in is generally perfectly safe, as long as you don't lose one.

Losing one means you lose your depth perspective and makes it very hard to judge distances effectively - trust me this is from experience!

For those who use contacts to top up their vision, and would have the option of removing a remaining contact and still be able to see enough, then the problem may be more of an inconvenience and possibly expense.

For those who can't read the top line of the eye test chart (or as in my case, have to ask where the chart is), vision is a serious problem, and removing the one good one is not an option.

Better to have limited depth perception than to not see corners or other athletes!

Cycling and running pose limited problems to contact users, many people use contacts for them without problems. Swimming is a different issue.

As you say, if no water gets in then all is fine, and if you are of the mildly inconvenienced category, it's not a problem to remove the other, but if you need help to see then it's a big risk.

My personal solution is that in a pool I don't use contacts.

I can't see a set written on a board, so have to ask for it to be repeated or write it down close to the waters edge.

For open water training you can use prescription goggles, and you can use them in the race. There are a few brands which make good models and good opticians will see sorting this for you as a nice challenge.

I don't use these goggles in the pool as I don't want to damage them, and want them to last a long time - keeping the anti-fog coating means limited use.
This obviously means you need prescription glasses for the bike and run, and there are also many brands which can do this.

This is the direction I have taken. I have a set of Oakleys with a set of dark lenses and a set of light sensitive ones. Dark when it's obviously going to be sunny, reactive when it's overcast, for early starts or if it is raining.

The risk with this is leaving them in Transition! I've known other people who have had their prize Oakleys 'borrowed' from transiton which is a real inconvenience to the owner.

However this is the best solution for me with my eyesight and needs. Hope that helps a bit?

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