Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

Navigating the world of sports when you’re blind as a bat is nothing short of baffling. Trust me, from my early years in kiddie soccer through my time playing varsity field hockey and lacrosse, dealing with my atrocious eyesight has been a constant annoyance. In the carefree days of elementary school sports, I could get away with wearing glasses just fine, but once I hit the high school level, they reached a new level of cumbersome. It got to the point where I really had no choice but to toss them aside in favor of contacts.

Now, I get it: glasses are comfortable, they’re cheaper and easier to care for than contact lenses, and nowadays, you can get frames that are pretty darn adorable. But hear me out.

Beth’s Top Ten Reasons Why Glasses are Pretty Much the Greatest Inhibitors of Athletic Awesomeness of All Time:

  1. If you are unlucky enough to get hit in the face, especially by a baseball moving faster than a speeding bullet, those sharp little plastic nose pads will injure you in ways I’d rather not describe. As in, get thee to an emergency room. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
  2. Also, your glasses will probably be in pieces.
  3. Whenever you have to play or practice in a humid environment, the amount of fog you’ll have to see through is pretty massive. It’s a bit like taking a stroll through a Scottish moor… only with a bunch of shouting people decked out in Nike Pro Combat barreling towards you.
  4. When it rains, everything in your field of view will be reduced to a quasi-impressionist painting. Impressionist paintings are great and all, but not super convenient during a conference championship.
  5. If you live anywhere outside the Pacific Northwest, you’ll probably be working out in at least a little bit of sun. And a little bit of sun means a lot of glasses glare.
  6. With glasses, your field of view is limited to what your lenses can cover, and for most of the bespectacled masses, this doesn’t include peripheral vision.
  7. Let’s face it: there is nothing more awkward and frustrating than having your glasses knocked off in the middle of a play and trying to find them after they’ve tumbled to the ground.
  8. If you smudge your glasses mid-game, no ref on this planet is going to give you a time-out to get them in functional order.
  9. When you have the tiniest bit of sweat on your face, your nose turns into a glasses Slip ‘n Slide.
  10. High school athletes are known for their judgmental attitudes and, as much as this sucks, they might not take you seriously if you’re sporting spectacles. Apparently, it’s a 20/20 world and we’re just living in it.

Also, it’s important to note that some sports, such as field hockey and women’s lacrosse, generally require some sort of eye protection in high school. You think sunglasses-over-glasses is tough? Try hockey goggles-over-glasses. It’s physically impossible with most frames.

Now that we’re all aware of my obvious preference of contacts over glasses for field and court sports, we can venture over the wonderful world of aquatic athletics. This should be simple enough; you just strap on goggles after putting in your contacts and you’re good to go, right?

I’m afraid that I’m going to have to deny this one, because wearing contacts under goggles is an extremely bad idea. Mark my words, your goggles will get ripped off during a dive or flip turn, those lenses with be soaked with chlorine, and your eyes will burn with the intensity of a thousand suns. Even if this doesn’t happen to you (which would be nothing short of a miraculous), the fact is that contacts growing bacteria is a very real occurrence, and exposing them to all the chemicals present in a pool house is something you should probably avoid.

Not being able to wear contacts in the water makes things a bit tricky, as no swim goggles worth using can cover glasses. However, all is not lost; prescription goggles have emerged as the savior of visually impaired swimmers everywhere. One word of caution: don’t spend loads of money buying goggles specially made to your prescription. I almost went down that road, and that road is plastered with hundred-dollar bills. The glorious people at Speedo have their Vanquisher goggles (which, as I recall, the vast majority of swimmers I knew used for both practices and races) available in a range of prescriptions for around $22, which is a fab deal. Drop by your local swim shop and see if they have them so that you can try them on in person.

If your prescription isn’t the same for both eyes, buy your goggles for the less intense prescription. Example: my right eye prescription is -3.5 diopters and my left eye prescription is -2.0 diopters, so I bought my goggles in -2.0. Protip: make sure you remove the protective film off these bad boys before trying them on for visibility. I must have returned three pairs when I realized that the reason my vision through them was so foggy was because the film was kind of textured.

Ultimately, how you handle your less-than-perfect vision is up to you and what you think works best for your situation. I recommend chatting with your coaches, parents, and optometrist to determine your best course of action.

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the author

Elizabeth Watson (just call her Beth) is a senior at an itty-bitty private Catholic high school in Virginia. In addition to writing for The Prospect, she writes and performs sketch comedy with her improv troupe, rehearses like mad for school theatre productions, suits up for forensics competitions, and writes poetry for her school’s literary magazine. A brief rundown of Beth’s favorite people and things ever to exist in no particular order: hole-in-the-wall bookshops, sweaters, Jane Eyre, peppermint tea (in a Troy and Abed mug, of course), Broadway musicals, British period dramas, Neil Patrick Harris, and Hugh Jackman. Beth’s long-term goal in life to is to become Julie Andrews, but for now she’s focusing on surviving the final stretch of high school and getting into college–hopefully as an English major

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