3 expert ECPs weigh in on matching contact lens materials + modalities to the specific needs of sports and active pursuits

Competition is keen.

That’s true in sports as well as in the contact lens arena. To find out what sports vision solutions experts recommend to active contact lens patients, we spoke with three leading O.D.s:

  • Graham Erickson, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD, who teaches pediatric optometry, vision therapy, and sports vision at Pacific University College of Optometry.
  • Keith Smithson, O.D., pediatric and sports vision specialist at Northern Virginia Doctors of Optometry in Reston and Alexandria, VA, who works with several Washington, D.C., pro teams, including the Wizards, Nationals, and Redskins.
  • Fred Edmunds, O.D., current president of the AOA Sports Vision Section, who operates the XTREMESIGHT Performance Clinic in Victor, NY.

“Performance contact lens fitting is a balance between visual performance and comfort,” explains Dr. Edmunds. “You want to optimize visual acuity and contrast sensitivity. However, you don’t want patients blinking excessively at the wrong moments.”

Sound like that’s asking a lot? It is. Here’s what these sports vision stars say about meeting the needs of weekend warriors as well as pro athletes. »


“Environmental factors like humidity, wind, sun, et cetera, all come into play,” says Dr. Erickson. So does dehydration.

“Thicker low-to-medium water-content lenses or silicone hydrogel lenses should be used for athletes with dehydration problems,” Dr. Erickson adds.


For sports, experts agree that single-use daily contacts are preferable. “A few of my favorites are Alcon’s Total1, B+L’s Biotrue, and J&J’s Acuvue TruEye, as they are not likely to dehydrate on the eye,” says Dr. Edmunds.

Dr. Smithson agrees, saying that, in his experience, the Acuvue Oasys 1-Day with HydraLuxe is the premium lens for comfort and consistent visual performance in sports. “The Biotrue ONEday family also performs exceptionally well, especially for youth players who don’t experience dry eye or the demands of travel and multiple games,” he adds. “Plus, they’re significantly lower-cost.”

Dr. Erickson notes that single-use contacts can be particularly useful for water sports. “They offer an advantage over prescription masks or goggles with reduced lens fogging and less restriction on peripheral vision, but the main concerns are lens loss and risk of infection,” he says.

Our ECPs offer suggestions for making it work:


“Look for families of lenses that provide ultraviolet blocking—an important safety feature for outdoor sports.”
—Dr. Smithson


“Many athletes in a monthly lens have stories about trying to decide if they should change lenses for a big competition. Single-use lenses eliminate that, along with worries about protein buildup.”
— Dr. Erickson


“Encourage athletes to always carry spares. Few things are more frustrating than dropping out of a game because you lost a lens.”
—Dr. Edmunds


Michele Andrews, O.D., senior director of North America Professional and Academic Affairs at CooperVision, discusses some key considerations in selecting contact lenses for sports.


“Know the environment. A soccer, basketball, or softball player will regularly come into contact with dirt and sweat, which makes hygiene and lens care challenging, so a one-day silicone hydrogel lens should be an option.”


“For sports that involve greater impact, there’s higher potential of losing a lens, so consider affordable, high-quality, single-use lenses.”


“Athletes with low astigmatism are sometimes underserved with spherical soft lenses. One-day torics provide hygienic and cost-effective benefits that also boost visual acuity.”

Contact lenses are like sponges and will absorb whatever is in the water, including any chemicals or bacteria that may be present.
Source: American Optometric Association


For prolonged-wear situations when oxygen transmission is a crucial factor, Dr. Erickson says high water-content lens materials or silicone hydrogel lenses may be needed.

“Larger-diameter lenses are also recommended for better stability and hydration,”he says.

What about when cost is an issue? “The two-week disposable Acuvue Oasys lenses or one-month disposable B+L ULTRA lenses with their easy-to-remember monthly schedule are my go-to options,” says Dr. Smithson.


How do the experts help active patients who also have an astigmatism? “Aggressively fit torics for patients with astigmatism,” recommends Dr. Edmunds.

Dr. Smithson also notes that astigmatism can be a significant variable when assessing acuity demands of various sports. “Ignoring low amounts of cylinder could lead to less-than-optimal results,” he says. “I use the Acuvue Oasys 1-Day for Astigmatism when nighttime glare of stadium lights is reported.”

Overall, concludes Dr. Edmunds, ECPs need to consider multiple modalities for some patients. “Don’t hesitate to Rx different lens types, or even prescriptions (i.e., slight over-minus), for a patient,” he says. “Think of your optimized contacts as equipment they wear only for sports.”

Here’s what our ECPs recommend to keep wearers at the top of their game.

by Johnson & Johnson

  • OASYS 1-Day for challenging environments + highest level of UV protection.
  • 1-Day Acuvue MOIST for outdoor athletes, especially those prone to sensitivity, irritation, or allergies.


  • Alcon DAILIES TOTAL1 as all that touches the eye is a cushion of moisture, allowing the wearer to completely focus on competing.


  • ULTRA contact lenses with MoistureSeal Technology help prevent dehydration with reduced blink rates.
  • Biotrue ONEday daily disposables maintain 98% of their moisture for up to 16 hours.
  • Biotrue ONEday for Astigmatism—just launched nationwide in March.


  • Clariti 1-Day and MyDay one-day silicone hydrogels win the toss because of their cost-efficient ability to be replaced midgame, plus their easy care options when exposed to dust, sweat, and more.