Football players' contrast sensitivity comparison when wearing amber sport-tinted or clear contact lenses.

Research paper by Eric E Porisch

Indexed on: 05 May '07Published on: 05 May '07Published in: Optometry (St. Louis, Mo.)


Many experiments are conducted each year in the sporting world to try and improve the existing technology and equipment in an effort to positively influence athletic outcomes. These studies, at times, are concerned about vision and how athletes can improve their visual inputs to respond most advantageously. Sports vision aids are becoming a more integral part of an athlete's equipment. Recently, sport-tinted contact lenses have become available to athletes of various sports. The purpose of this study was to compare football players' contrast sensitivity when wearing specially designed sport-tinted contact lenses to that when wearing clear contact lenses or no contact lenses in the case of an emmetropic athlete.Participants were fitted with either clear contact lenses or sport-tinted contact lenses. Spherical equivalent refractions were used because sport-tinted contact lenses are not currently available for astigmatic prescriptions. Contrast sensitivity was measured monocularly on a sine-wave grating chart of 4 spatial frequencies, each with decreasing contrast. Testing then was repeated with the other contact lens. Comparison was made to determine if statistically or clinically significant data would support the claim of increased contrast enhancement for the athletes while wearing the sport-tinted contact lenses.Thirty-five subjects participated (35 left eyes), ranging in age from 18 to 32 years. All subjects were professional or collegiate football players. Testing done at 3, 6, 12, and 18 cycles per degree (cpd) of spatial frequency found statistically significant improvement with the sport-tinted contact lenses where P < 0.05. With an examination of the emmetropic-only subgroup, these same results were confirmed at 3 and 6 cpd. Although most of the results were statistically significant, it is questionable whether there is any clinically significant improvement in contrast enhancement while wearing these lenses.Sport-tinted contact lenses appear to have a statistically significant effect on contrast sensitivity when worn by a relatively low astigmatic or spherically refracted patient. These results also hold true for enhancing sensitivity in the emmetropic athlete. This information is dampened, however, when considering clinical significance. Overall, there does not appear to be overwhelming evidence that the sport-tinted lenses provide any clinically significant difference when considering contrast enhancement. There are always exceptions to any study; therefore, each case would have to be evaluated by the individual practitioner and the athlete.