Game, Set, Match

An optometrist pairs a tennis-playing family with their best eyewear options.

Patient’s Perspective

Game, Set, Match

An optometrist pairs a tennis-playing family with their best eyewear options.

By Rich Andersen, as told to Erin Murphy

At my daughter’s high school tennis match, one of her teammates ran up to a woman seated near me.

“Mom, I left my sunglasses in the locker room,” she said. Her mother pulled a pair out of her purse.

As she returned to the court, I said, “My daughter is always losing or scratching her sports sunglasses, and the expense adds up pretty quickly because they’re prescription.”

“Did you ever think of getter her contact lenses?” the woman asked. “Then she can wear any decent-quality cheap sunglasses.”

I’d never considered contact lenses because my daughter never asked for them. She thinks glasses are cool and she’s happy wearing them, so why change?

Her prescription sports sunglasses were part of our family’s DIY approach to picking the right glasses for work, school and sports. (All five of us play tennis, and we all wear glasses.) We’d spend 10 minutes at the optometrist’s office, walk out with a new prescription, and buy glasses or sunglasses at the mall or from the Internet.

Dropping the Ball

For tennis, my wife and I have gone a number of routes, although neither of us is interested in contact lenses. An elastic strap would keep our glasses on, but glaring sunshine was tough to contend with. We have prescription sunglasses and even sports sunglasses, which are more comfortable for playing and give us better peripheral vision. Sport sunglasses had been working out fine, and we’d just switch between those and our regular glasses for indoor play.

The kids…well, I thought there was no way I’d spend a lot of money on prescription sunglasses my kids could break or lose in an instant. But we were worried about UV protection, so we bought them sunglasses that they used for everything and guarded them with our lives. When my oldest became more competitive in tennis, we bought prescription sport sunglasses for her, as well.

But the costs were adding up. If she dropped her sunglasses a few times or shoved them in an overloaded backpack, they got scratched and lost their clear view, defeating the purpose of having specialty sport sunglasses in the first place.

New Instructor

I talked some more with the player’s mother and learned she’s an optometrist. She explained about sports contact lenses with sun protection, and how we could protect my daughter’s eyes and provide her with clear vision on the court at a reasonable price. She even recommended that the next time my wife and I needed new sport sunglasses, we might want to try Transitions lenses (Transitions Optical) so we could use them for indoor and outdoor play.

When we visited her office, we had a completely different experience than with our old optometrist. The medical history form asked about our sports and hobbies. Instead of breezing through the practice, we talked to the staff about different options. We ended up getting my daughter contact lenses with sun protection, and she likes buying lots of different sunglasses at the store (with her own money).

Even though we were experienced with buying glasses, we didn’t know about all of the options for sports and how to put them together in a way that worked best for our family. In just a short amount of time, our new optometrist and her staff used their expertise to do just that. nOD

Editor’s note: Periodically, new OD will explore eye care from the patient’s perspective. Whether you have a special interest in contact lenses, low vision or pediatric care, you’ll find out from real patients what attracts them to a practice and keeps them coming back.