Contact Lenses

laika

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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.
 

weustace

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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
 

maby

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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!
 

Thistle

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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.
 

doug748

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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.
 

Concerto

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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.
 

laika

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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.
 
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maby

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.....

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!
 

BelleSerene

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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.
 
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Ningaloo

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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.
 

SiteSurfer

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If it helps any, I have astigmatism in both eyes, and have dual lenses, is: one short sighted and one long sighted (that’s the effect) in essence one eye reads closely and the other distance.

The brain works it out after a day or so. I couldn’t go back to glasses.
 

BrendanS

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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.
\
to be honest, you have to try to see how you get on. Don't go for a 1 or 3 month trial, it will take you longer than that to adapt.
I was a user for 30+ years.
 

langstonelayabout

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I had glasses from the age of about 8. Contacts from about 15. My eyes had astigmatism and both had about a -6.5 prescription.

I wore hard and then gas permeable (rigid) contact lenses for years until about 2002 when I had LASEK surgery in both eyes. I don't know why I waited so long... They could have fixed the astigmatism as well if i'd had LASIK surgery but I have thin corneas.

So to answer the question: Yes. Go for the contact lenses. You'll soon get used to inserting and removing them. They're comfortable and save catching your glasses on everything or having your glasses caked in salt from spray.

Unless you are a bit braver, in which case consider having your eyes fixed completely with LASIK.
 

mjcoon

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... and save catching your glasses on everything or having your glasses caked in salt from spray.

Which reminds me of having a quick flick from a main-sheet launch my specs and clip-on sunglasses over the side. Should have had them tied on but that might be worse.

Prompting me to comment about UV protection. Spectacles should provide that; do contact lenses? But in any case using the latter make wearing normal sunglasses much easier, I guess...

Mike.
 

vyv_cox

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I have worn soft contact lenses for about 40 years. For the past 10 years or so they have been monovision, my left half a dioptre lower than it should be. I find absolutely no problem with this. I had a trial with varifocals but found them less good than monovision. In the past I wore them for surf canoeing and lost two in about ten years, demonstrating the power of surface tension, as I always keep my eyes open under water, something that happens a lot in surf canoeing. I also have a pair of monovision specs that I wear briefly each day, mainly for reading in bed.

The best thing about contact lenses, although there are no negatives to my mind, is the ability to wear large, fully UV protecting sunglasses when in Greece. Large prescription sunglasses with my prescription are very heavy and uncomfortable.
 

Ingwe

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I would advise getting used to the lenses on land first, one issue with contact lenses and sailing is that the wind / salt air can really dry the lenses out which can make the removal of lenses a lot more difficult, so it's worth making sure that you are pretty good at removing lenses under normal conditions before doing any long sails in them, the last thing you want to do is be panicking that you can't get your lenses out half way across the channel!
 

UK-WOOZY

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i have bad astigmatism too with short sightedness but wear glasses all the time, opticians told me a few weeks ago i will need varifocals within the next two years. i use contact lenses for sailing as i then can wear sun glasses and matters less dropping sunglasses in the drink than prescription glasses. i use Clariti 1 a day Toric lenses from lense store. they have some UV protection and high water content. as soon as you get used to touching your eyeballs its fine.

im aged 43, my prescription is

left eye
Power: -2.75 Base Curve: 8.6 Diameter: 14.3 Cylinder: -1.25 Axis: 20
right eye
Power: -3.25 Base Curve: 8.6 Diameter: 14.3 Cylinder: -1.25 Axis: 160
 
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asteven221

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I have worn contact lenses for about 40 years as well an rely on them as I hate glasses. Daily lenses were a bit of a game changer and I recommend them highly. Having a brand new lens every day is much better, plus if you tear one (unlikely) or lose one then just grab another. I keep spares on the boat, even in the car and my office. As I said, I rely on them and it's rare I need a spare lens, but it can happen so it's good to have loads of spares. One thing to note that if you try a particular lenses and find them uncomfortable, don't give up as the same prescription from different manufacturers can make a significant difference to comfort. Also some solutions can be irritating as well, so try different ones. Even the solution the manufacturer stores the lens in can make a difference.

As for sailing you shouldn't have any issues. Sometimes lenses can dry a little under a combination of circumstance e.g. perhaps you are getting up really early and a bit tired and the wind is blowing constantly in your eyes. If that's the case they might become a little annoying and effect your vision very slightly, but it's really slight and not a showstopper.

Interesting Eastlands about the operation you had. Although I have never given that any serious consideration, my brother in law had to get an operation for cateracts and as you say it took about 20 mins and he could see perfectly and has never had any problems. He was very pleased!
 

maby

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Also, don't assume that the latest technology is necessarily the best for you. My optician was very keen for me to try his new generation of lenses last year, but they were a complete failure for me - the big selling point was that they were a lot thinner than the previous generation - should, intuitively be more comfortable - but in my prescription they were so thin around the edge that they tended to roll up every time I blinked - completely unusable for me!
 
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