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Thread: Contact Lenses

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Brighton
    Posts
    4,774

    Default Contact Lenses

    This is going to seem a daft question for some, but any advice on contact lenses and sailing? I wear glasses for distance but always been too squeamish for contacts, but my eyes have deteriorated such that sailing without correction in bad weather with loads of spray and green water is no longer an option.

    The optician suggested "monovision", which is apparently correcting one eye much less than the other so that you can still see up close. Is this a good idea, or should I stick with correcting both eyes and using reading glasses if I have to nip down and do some chart work? What do others do?

    I have a significant astigmatism and am waiting for the optician to order in the appropriate lenses for a trial but would be nice to hear the advice of others who wear contacts for sailing in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Posts
    236

    Default Re: Contact Lenses

    I wear contacts for dinghy sailing and skiing, but am a habitual glasses wearer. I am not really astigmatic and have a common contact prescription across both eyes; I am myopic only, and do not use reading glasses.

    I have never yet encountered weather in a yacht that I deem too severe to wear spectacles; if anything they offer some protection from spray. One will of course have salt caking them, and if it is possible to do so then it helps to rinse them under the galley tap to remove salt before wiping dry, to avoid scratching the lenses. I have a dedicated pair of old spectacles for sailing, which do the job admirably; when are you finding yourself unable to wear glasses? Has this actually happened recently?

    A relative has had some difficulty putting his contacts in while stationary in a yacht with the engine running, due to vibration—I don't know how easy it would be to do it at sea, even under sail, but probably doable. One can get lenses you can keep in for days at a time (and wear overnight), which might be worth investigating, if you are convinced you can't manage with glasses.

    The one place I admit specs are totally out of favour is in racing—I did a weekend as bow on a F40 last year, and forgot my contacts. It was a very unfortunate weekend in some respects—I had to wear my glasses to help call the start, then dash down below and stow them in the cabin before dashing back to help with kite hoists, gybes, and drops. Being able to see beyond the boat would probably have made the experience less stressful!

    Regards
    William

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    12,127

    Default Re: Contact Lenses

    I have used contacts for sailing very successfully for quite a few years now. Before I tried them for the first time, the idea of putting anything in my eye would have horrified me, but the modern daily disposable lenses are very comfortable and I don't think twice about putting them in now. It does take some practice and the forst few times may leave you wondering if you will ever learn, but it soon comes naturally. Do keep them very moist with drops while you have them in - it will make them far easier to remove later.

    I use multifocal lenses which are very successful - for me. They give me close to perfect vision at all distances - no need for reading glasses unless I am sitting down to read a book for an hour or two. Your astigmatism is probably going to make that impossible for you - you can either have torric lenses for astigmatism or multifocal lenses, but I don't think anyone makes torric multifocals. I know people who are very happy with monovision. It is not generally recommended for drivers because it tends to harm your depth perception - but that probably does not matter too much for the helmsman of a boat.

    Do be aware of the risk of an eye infection and take appropriate precautions. The standard instructions to contact lens users is "no swimming" - and I'm sure that your optician would also tell you to avoid spray in your face. It is certainly true that the lens can trap bacteria against the eyeball and that can lead to nasty infections. After several years of lens use, I got a bit careless with lens hygiene and developed an infection which took months to clear - the problem is that there is virtually no blood supply to the front of the eyeball which makes infections very difficult to treat. The key is to change the lenses frequently if they become exposed to non-sterile water. I wear daily disposable lenses and am a keen surfer - on a day of serious surfing, I may get through three or four sets of lenses - I spend an hour in the water, come out, remove and throw away the lenses, give my eye a thorough flushing with Optrex and put another set in. I'm sure that there will be some that say that I am paranoid, but several months of near blindness in one eye following my earlier experience makes me consider it preferrable to throw away three or four sets of lenses costing a couple of pounds each.

    Be very suspicious of the extended wear lenses - I discussed them with my optician and he refused to sell them to me. There are two problems with them - one is the risk of infection since they are there for longer and can pick up a lot more bacteria. But the more worrying is the risk of neovascularization. You are not supposed to have any blood vessels across the front of your eye - they would get in the way of the incoming light! The front of the eye gets most of the oxygen it requires directly from the air - and the contact lens reduces the flow of oxygen - effectively suffocating the eye. Lens manufacturers have put a lot of effort into making them breathable but they all reduce the oxygen flow to some extent. Standard lenses are only intended to be worn for a maximum of something like eight to ten hours - then you take them out and let the eyes breathe. If you leave them in too long, your eyes begin to grow new blood vessels - neovascularization - that extend across the pupil and will ultimately reduce your vision. At my last contact lens inspection, the optician noted a few new veins approaching the front of my eye - I had been pushing my luck a bit!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Firth of Forth
    Posts
    2,583

    Default Re: Contact Lenses

    I use contacts with this sort of correction on a daily basis and am very happy with them. I accept that contacts are not for everyone nor is correcting one eye for distance and the other for closer work. I can only suggest that you give it a try but be prepared to change to having both eyes corrected for distance and using reading glasses for chart work.

    I have had a small number of infections and was strongly recommended to go for fortnightly lenses instead of monthly. I've not had any problems since but have recently been advised to stick to fortnightly lenses for day-to-day use and to use daily lenses for sailing where contaminated water could enter the eye. It seems sensible advice.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Plymouth
    Posts
    8,280

    Default Re: Contact Lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by laika View Post
    This is going to seem a daft question for some, but any advice on contact lenses and sailing? I wear glasses for distance but always been too squeamish for contacts, but my eyes have deteriorated such that sailing without correction in bad weather with loads of spray and green water is no longer an option.

    The optician suggested "monovision", which is apparently correcting one eye much less than the other so that you can still see up close. Is this a good idea, or should I stick with correcting both eyes and using reading glasses if I have to nip down and do some chart work? What do others do?

    I have a significant astigmatism and am waiting for the optician to order in the appropriate lenses for a trial but would be nice to hear the advice of others who wear contacts for sailing in advance.

    Lenses are magic for sailing but, as a new user, I think you should get yourself a standard pair and use reading glasses maybe for the first year.
    If that suits, then you are in a good position to assess the reading correction options.

    I tend to wear sunglasses when sailing rather more then average as I find it restful and it protects your eyes from the breeze. It's a good idea in any case. I intend to get myself a pair with side protection to keep the wind from whistling in from there.
    This makes it sound as if lenses are a bit iffy but as the wearer of 1/2 think bottle end glasses they are one of the best, very best things.

    Everyone is different but I have found hard lenses work well for me. I wear them every day, from getting up to going to bed and have done for almost 50 years.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Sail on the Medway, Kent from Chatham Maritime Marina
    Posts
    1,800

    Default Re: Contact Lenses

    I have been wearing contact lenses for 40 years. Initially I was worried about putting something in my eyes, but it did not take more than a few weeks before that ceased. The first lenses were a high water content and thicker than those produced today. Overtime I have tried many different lenses including rxtended 6 day wear, but now have bi-focal lenses that I wear daily for 6 days and then have a day without lenses. Keeping the lenses clean is important and I have only had 2 eye infections in 40 years.

    My advice to the OP is to give contact lenses a trial. You may come to love them and wonder why you never tried them before. My daughter said she could never use contact lenses but now wears them and love them.
    If my foresight was as good as my hindsight, I would be a multi-millionaire.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Brighton
    Posts
    4,774

    Default Re: Contact Lenses

    Thanks folks. This hasn't been an issue to date: In my 9 years of boat ownership I choose when to go out, we have decent forecasts and I don't choose to go out in hideous conditions. However I'm well aware that in my "delivery years" glasses simply didn't work when I was getting hit in the face by green water, I can't escape the fact that I can't see much uncorrected, and I need to be able to cope with this. I've coped with foredeck work on other people's boats because someone else is looking out, but I'm not always comfortable with not being able to see more than a few metres.

    I guess I need to see whether I can cope with changing these on a pitching boat and obviously factor in a new pair at each watch change. No plans to make a permanent switch from glasses / prescription sunglasses: this is just to cope with times when those don't work. The disposable dailies seem to be the top choice at the moment.
    Last edited by laika; 07-04-19 at 20:45.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    12,127

    Default Re: Contact Lenses

    Quote Originally Posted by laika View Post

    .....

    I guess I need to see whether I can cope with changing these on a pitching boat and obviously factor in a new pair at each watch change....
    Changing lenses on a pitching boat is certainly going to be a bit of a challenge and I would recommend getting plenty of practice in on terra firma before trying it!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    3,409

    Default Re: Contact Lenses

    I’ve worn glasses since age 6 and lenses since around 20. I am short-sighted - uncorrected, I focus at around 6” - and have recently started needing reading glasses if I keep the optimal lenses for long sight. I have tried a variety of lens combinations.

    Personally, I would not go for the ‘monovision’ ‘solution’: decent 3D perception relies on acuity on both eyes at a long focal distance. If you can read the instruments without additional reading glasses, you can use the glasses at the chart table and spray needn’t be an issue.

    Yes, highly oxygen-permeable daily disposables. The technology is amazing now; mine even correct some astigmatism. Don’t worry about the squeamishness: your own finger is usually under your own control.

    A good optician will give you a week or two’s supply of each of 2-3 lens solutions (the manufacturer pays for the samples anyway) to let you try them out and see how you feel about the alternative lifestyles.

    BTW, I have no idea whether these would work for your reading correction, but I have found Nooz reading glasses very convenient: Google them. Good luck.
    Last edited by BelleSerene; 07-04-19 at 22:07.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Northern summers aboard Ningaloo otherwise Perth WA
    Posts
    120

    Default Re: Contact Lenses

    I have been short sighted all my life. 55years wearing glasses with a -6 correction. In my 20s and 30s I wore contact lenses full time but gradually reverted to glasses, retaining contacts for sailing and diving.
    However my sight deteriorated significantly over the last couple of years due to cataracts in both eyes. At 58 I thought I was too young for that!
    I have just had my natural lenses replaced with tri-focal artificial lenses and no longer need and vision correction at all.
    NHS would have provided single focal length lenses to fix my distance vision but I went private to get the enhanced lenses and thus avoiding the need for reading glasses.
    I cannot recommend this operation enough! It only took 20 minutes to change my life.
    Ningaloo - Hanse 385

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