Football is one of the world's most famously intense sports , requiring players to have laser-sharp vision throughout their game. The sport is played in an open field where players make split-second decisions and tackle challenges with extreme precision. Hence, vision becomes very important. Beyond simply throwing the ball or shooting it in goal posts, players also have to interact cohesively with each other on the field.
As per the International Football Association Board (IFAB) laws of the game, FIFA does not allow football players to wear equipment or jewellery on the field. This makes wearing regular glasses impossible for players, but wearing corrective equipment like contact lenses while playing the sport is permitted and quite common.
We thought we would list out some of the top players in football who wear contact lenses and are at the peak of their game. Let’s find out more!
The impact of clear vision on performance
According to medical professionals, the eyes contribute up to 80% of perceptual input in sports . In athletic activities, vision significantly impacts an athlete's performance, encompassing aspects like visual clarity, motor performance, and information processing. The overall ability to process and respond to visual stimuli greatly enhances an athlete's eye-hand coordination. Football players, for instance, often face rapidly changing game situations that necessitate quick reactions in tracking the ball and assessing teammates and the positions of their opponents. Good visual acuity and peripheral vision play a crucial role in ensuring a competitive edge on the field.
Footballers and contact lens usage
Manchester United hired a vision specialist to understand the importance of players’ vision on the field. They found out that players take time to adjust to the game’s speed and certain adjustments like bright colours aid vision on the pitch.
Overcoming vision challenges
David de Gea, the famous goalkeeper of Manchester United requires contact lenses for hyperopia. A goalkeeper’s vision is particularly important on the field compared to any other skill set of a player in another position. Contact lenses have been nothing but a boon in his pursuit of becoming one of the best goalkeepers in every league he has been a part of.
Some professional players wear lenses for a great level of concentration and others do it to improve minor eye refractive issues such as astigmatism which is an imperfection in the curvature of your eye’s cornea. This hinders your eye’s ability to focus light onto your retina, resulting in blurred and distorted vision. Fortunately, astigmatism is minor and can be corrected easily with Toric contact lenses.
Customisation and performance enhancements
In the past few years, contact lens technology has made huge leaps that are very helpful for football players. There are now sports-specific contact lenses that are made to fit each player's needs to improve ability on the pitch.
Mario Balotelli, an Italian soccer player, had laser eye surgery to fix his near-sightedness, but he still wears his bright blue contacts as a fashion statement.
Multifocal lenses have also revolutionised sports vision, addressed presbyopia concerns, and allowed players to maintain clarity for both near and distant vision.
Moreover, contact lenses can be tailored to meet specific requirements, offering customisable vision correction. The advancements in lens technology and designs provide superior stability, ensuring lenses stay in place during rigorous movements while eliminating distractions.
Contact lens care and maintenance
While contact lenses provide footballers with the ability to chase attackers, avoid defenders and keep an eye on the players and the ball with greater accuracy, it is challenging to continue playing in cases of minor accidents - like the lenses coming off, being dirty, irritability, etc. Hence, proper care for your contact lenses is essential to ensure clear vision and eye health during intense training and matches.
Some important tips to follow are:
- Hygiene before handling contact lenses
- Regular and appropriate lens replacement to reduce the risk of infection
- Stick to wearing schedules to avoid harmful bacteria and discomfort
- Carry protective eyewear and lens case along with solution
- Avoid touching your eyes during the game as you may encounter sweat and dirt
- Do not share contact lenses with others
- Get regular eye examinations to ensure that your prescription lenses are up to date
Inspiring stories and testimonials
There are several inspiring stories revolving around footballers who struggled with vision problems but are now legendary players in their respective teams.
Taking a look at some of them we have Edgar Davids, a former Dutch footballer who initially started his career with perfect vision but was later diagnosed with Glaucoma during his stint at Juventus. Edgar is one such example of a player who did not loose hope and accomplished his sports goals with the help of contact lenses.
David De Gea is a player who struggled with long-sightedness. Initially he struggled a lot in his training at Manchester United FC. He refused to have an eye surgery to correct his vision and instead started wearing disposable contact lenses on the training pitch as well as the gym, and today he is considered a world-class goalkeeper who is respected by his teammates and opponents alike.
Expert insights and advice
Contact lenses hold significant value for footballers, greatly impacting performance. Here's why:
- Enhanced visual acuity: contact lenses provide the ability to determine shapes and details of any object from a distance.
- Improved peripheral vision: Compared to glasses, lenses provide a wider field of view. This is crucial in team sports, where player positioning awareness is paramount to success.
- Fewer distractions: Contact lenses don't fog or collect dust like glasses, allowing more focus in play.
- Superior depth perception: Athletes wearing lenses can judge distances better due to their ultra-thin design, directly resting on the eye.
Our advice on contact lenses
Switch to daily disposable lenses for ease of use, negating the need for cleaning and storage. Treat contact lenses as vital sporting equipment, considering their positive impact on performance and eye health.
Anyone who is considering using contact lenses, must seek professional guidance and support before buying the most suitable lens. A professional can help you address concerns related to dry eyes, give proper information on maintenance and eye care along prescribe tailored solutions. Moreover, opticians can advise on protective eyewear, offering added safety during intense play.
The future of contact lenses in sports
Contact lenses play a pivotal role for footballers in the World Cup. They can elevate performance and can improve overall success on the field. Clear vision has a profound impact on decision-making, precise execution of skills, and adaptability in rapidly changing game situations. These hidden heroes enable footballers to spot teammates, anticipate opponents, and deliver exceptional performances.
It is safe to say that footballers perform with world-class vigour whilst wearing contact lenses. Although sports goggles and glasses can be considered to be more comfortable, they do not provide the freedom and safety you require while playing an intensive sport like football.