Contact lenses and sport

  • Martin Cardall

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Contact lenses seem to be the ideal method of vision correction for ametropic
people who participate in sporting activities.
This thesis sets out to evaluate the viewpoint of the optometric professional and that of the patient on the use of contact lenses in sport and to establish if education is needed within this area. It also aims to provide some scientific evidence on the effect of exercise on the physiology of the cornea with and without contact lenses.
Silicone hydrogel contact lenses have previously been suggested to impede heat
dissipation from the cornea compared to mid water hydrogels. This was further
demonstrated with exercise.
The physiological integrity of the cornea is dependant on the amount of oxygen
available to its surfaces. Contact lenses can disrupt the diffusion of oxygen to the
cornea. Previous methods of measuring the oxygen consumption of the cornea have been limited by their invasive nature and assessment of only a small surface area of the cornea. They are not suitable to measure corneal oxygen consumption during exercise with and without contact lenses. A new method needed to be established. This was achieved by designing a novel method by the use of an oxygen sensor inside an airtight goggle using dynamic quenching of luminescence method. This
established a non-contact way of measuring the effect oxygen uptake with and
without contact lenses in vivo, allowing the contact lens to be undisturbed in their
natural environment.
The new method differentiated between the closed-eye and the open-eye condition with a good within-visit repeatability. It also illustrated that the cornea utilises oxygen at a faster rate during controlled aerobic exercise at moderate intensity.
New contact lenses are available specifically for sport, these claim to reduce glare
and increase contrast for daylight outdoor sports. However, visual benefits of these types of contact lenses cannot be measured easily in an indoor clinical environment, such as the optometric practice. To demonstrate any potential benefits of these lenses emulation of them should be conducted outdoors.
Date of AwardMar 2008
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorShehzad Naroo (Supervisor) & James Wolffsohn (Supervisor)


  • corneal
  • oxygen
  • temperature
  • exercise
  • ocular

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