Article Date: 9/1/2006

contact lens management
Calling All Athletes

This lens provides increased contrast to enhance athletic performance.

.KELLY KERKSICK, O.D

Performance-enhancing contact lenses have been available for athletes for several years. But until Bausch & Lomb created the Nike Maxsight, they were only available in GP materials. Although GP lenses are less than optimal for some sporting applications, the technology was not available to produce the necessary tints in soft materials. With the Maxsight, however, our athlete-patients have a contact lens that delivers comfort as well as enhanced performance on the field.

Delivering sharper contrast

Maxsight contacts are task-specific lenses; they promote sharper vision in just a few, clearly-defined circumstances. The company achieves this with patented Light Architecture technology that selectively filters short wavelength visible light. Because it blocks the slightly out-of-focus blue wavelengths that the eye picks up just in front of the retina, it can eliminate blurring of images and darken a background to let a specific color, such as a white ball on a green field, stand out more sharply.

The contact lens works much like the familiar sport-tinted spectacles. Because it's a contact lens, not only does it avoid the comfort and safety issue associated with glasses, it covers the entire surface of the cornea, extending to and past the limbus. The result is a lens that significantly reduces light leakage from the periphery.

The effect depends on the color of the lens. The company offers two tints: grey-green and amber.

The Nike Maxsight

LENS POWERS: +4.00 to -6.00D (0.25D steps); -6.50D to -9.00D (0.50D steps); also in plano
BASE CURVES: 8.40mm to 9.00mm
DIAMETER: 14.3
MATERIAL: Polymacon
TINTS: Grey-green and amber
PRICE: $60 to $65 per box of six lenses
UVA AND UVB PROTECTION: More than 95%

Match the tint to the sport

The first step in fitting is to select the appropriate tint for the individual patient. The amber lens is designed for fast-moving ball sports played in variable light conditions (e.g., baseball, tennis, soccer, etc.). It allows more orange wavelengths through and filters green out, so that a white baseball or yellow tennis ball will stand out. Better contrast may help an athlete detect subtle variations on a playing field.

The grey-green tint is indicated to increase visual comfort at events held in sunny, glare-prone environments such as golf and running. It allows more green wavelengths through and creates a sunglass-like effect to ward off glare. It is recommended for athletes who play outdoors in bright light. 

Lens particulars

The lens is made from polymacon, a non-ionic, low-water content material that resists protein deposits. It blocks more than 95% of UVA and UVB radiation.

Most of my patients who request Maxsight lenses are already in hydrogel or silicone hydrogel soft lenses during the day. They report no difference in comfort with these new lenses.

Though indicated for monthly replacement, I advise two-week replacement for daily-wear patients. Part-time wearers should discard them at least monthly. Warn them not to store lenses in hydrogen peroxide disinfecting solution, because it has no antimicrobial activity once it's neutralized.

Play by the rules

While these lenses are a great help for sports, make sure patients understand that they must not wear them outside of athletic activities. This is especially true for driving. I have created a disclosure form that each of my patients must sign before they can receive their lenses. It states that the patient understands the lenses are only to be worn during competition or practice, and that driving in the lenses is a contraindication.

And with my younger patients and plano wearers, I emphasize the importance of not sharing their contact lenses with others.

Making your pitch

I present the benefits of the Maxsight with a simple sports analogy. I tell my patients that just as the right piece of equipment — the right bat or appropriate racket — can make a difference in a sport, so can the right kind of vision. It's been my experience that athletes understand the importance of vision to their performance and the place of performance-enhancing contact lenses within athletics.

Athletes of all ages have given me very positive feedback. The younger athletes are particularly excited. One high school senior told me, "This [lens] could make the difference between whether I get a scholarship to go to college next year." As a practitioner, that is great to hear. Incidentally, patient excitement is so great that once a player returns to his or her team, it spreads from player to player and generates referrals. I'd say I've gotten about four referrals for every one fit. Some athletes actually end up buying both tints; they use amber for one sport and grey-green for another.

A practice investment

This lens is the only product that I have ever offered in the practice for which patients don't even ask about fees. They just want the lens. I have fit approximately 40 patients without having marketed to them, so as you can see, their practice-building potential is remarkable.

KELLY KERKSICK, O.D., PRACTICES AT MIDWEST VISION CARE, IN COLUMBIA, ILL. CONTACT HER BY E-MAIL AT KERKSICKOD@YAHOO.COM



Optometric Management, Issue: September 2006