Summer 2016 was a busy one for sport; Euro 2016, followed by Wimbledon, the Tour de France, then the Olympics and finally, the Paralympics. At the College we launched a campaign to encourage spectators to consider their vision when enjoying their favourite sports. 

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Sam Rolph, footballer

The patient 

Sam is a 15 year old from Methwold in Norfolk. He is longsighted and is a keen footballer and runner.  He plays football for King’s Lynn Elite football squad. As part of a standard check-up with his optometrist, Parth Shah, Director of Scotts Opticians in Norfolk, Parth suggested that Sam try contact lenses so that he wouldn’t have to wear spectacles while on the pitch. Sam, who previously wore sports goggles when playing, agreed to try contact lenses although he was a bit worried about them at first. Sam says: “I was a bit unsure about trying contact lenses at the beginning and it took me a while to get used to putting them in and taking them out.However I knew that they would probably improve my experience on the pitch. Glasses can be a nuisance when you’re running at speed and when it’s raining they get wet! But the initial time to adapt is definitely worth it. When I first stepped onto the pitch wearing my contact lenses, I wondered why I didn’t do it sooner!”

The optometrist

Parth Shah MCOptom,optometrist, director of Scotts Opticians and member of the College of Optometrists says: “Sam comes to me for regular eye examinations. He has a high hyperopic prescription with astigmatism, meaning he has difficulty focusing on objects, especially up close, unless he is wearing corrective eye wear. I knew he was dedicated to his sports and felt he would benefit from wearing contact lenses while on the pitch. I always ask patients about their lifestyle to determine what type of eye wear will best suit them. 

"Typically I will arrange an appointment with a patient to talk them through their requirements, whether it’s for sports, social or occupational use, and thereafter discuss the most suitable option. Sometimes it can take a while for patients to get used to using contact lenses regularly and Sam did take a few attempts, but for a patient like Sam it’s certainly worth persevering”. 


Madaline Rolph, athlete and swimmer

The patient 

Madaline Rolph is a longsighted athlete and swimmer, whose favourite event is the 100 metre sprint. She is 13 and runs with Thetford Athletics Club. She started wearing contact lenses for sports when she was 11, following advice from her optometrist, Parth Shah, MCOptom and Director of Scotts Opticians in Norfolk. She has found that they are very comfortable and convenient for her when competing.

Madaline says: “My brother had been using contact lenses when playing football for a while, so when I turned 11, my optometrist suggested to my parents that I try them for running. I had seen my brother use them so was happy to give them a go and it was very successful. I’m a sprinter, so don’t have the time to push my glasses up when I’m in a very short race. With my contacts I can see so clearly and it doesn’t affect my performance.”

The optometrist 

Parth Shah MCOptom, optometrist, director of Scotts Opticians and member of the College of Optometrists says:

"Madaline is a sprinter and has a long-sighted prescription so I recommended to her parents that she try contact lenses when she turned 11. She mentioned that her glasses interfered with her sport, one of the most common reasons why parents request contact lenses for their children, in my experience. Contact lenses have really advanced in the last five years and they are now far more comfortable and, more importantly, breathable,which is much better for the overall health of the eye.

"Whilst not suitable for everyone, there are very few people nowadays who cannot be fitted for contact lenses, including children. I would certainly recommend considering them if you are involved in sport and need corrective eye wear.”

Images to use in articles

We launched a series of comparison photos to emphasise the importance of good vision in enjoying sport, and spoke with some sports enthusiasts about how the correct their vision while playing sports. The images show summer sports as seen with normal vision and through the eyes of someone with myopia. If you’re a member or a journalist and would like to use these pictures, please feel free to do so.

Athletics image 
Athletics image - myopia 


Football crowd
Football crowd - myopia
Cycling image 
Cycling image - myopia 
Tennis image
Tennis image- myopia


Other resources of interest