Great Sport And 20/20 Vision See Eye To Eye

Hikers, runners, sailing enthusiasts, skiers, white water rafters and swimmers are all among London Vision Clinic patients. The risks of using contact lenses in the water are well chronicled; and goggles fitted with lenses – while adding a humorous scene in the film Notting Hill – in reality offer only extremely limited help in the swimming pool. London Vision Clinic surgeon, Glenn Carp a keen swimmer recalls, before having his own sight problems corrected, the awkwardness of not being able to see the pool clock and being unable to check his length timings. (He had to peer at a special clock positioned specially at the end of his lane).

A passion for any ball sport – football, rugby, cricket and tennis – is also frequently quoted as a top reason to have Laser Eye Surgery.  So rare are the professional sportsmen and women who wear glasses that they don’t even feature as a Google category – it is considerably easier to find the names of sporting heroes who smoke than those who have sight problems. Even my sports crazy partner was only able to come up with three names.

With his dreadlocks and distinctive goggles, the Dutch footballer Edgar Davids was a memorable and aggressive midfielder who was known as the Pit Bull because of his aggressive play and stocky build.  However it was the protective goggles which he wore due to glaucoma which made him one of the most recognisable players of his generation.

In the world of tennis there is Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, who in April this year reached the career high ranking of number eight in the world. He has played impressively at various Grand Slams – once even beating the world number one and fellow compatriot Novak Djokovic – despite wearing tinted prescription glasses on court. Presumably he has grown accustomed to playing in glasses and prefers them to being troubled by contacts on court. Tennis players often complain about their contacts not staying in place during a match and of getting dirt behind their lenses when playing on clay and in windy conditions.

Wearing a protective helmet and with a hard cricket ball heading your way at about 90 mph, one would not expect to see a batsman wearing glasses on the cricket pitches of today. However, back in the gentler 1960s, bespectacled cricketer Mike Smith was one of England’s most popular captains who also played rugby union – but probably without his glasses.

It is also crucial that umpires, linesmen, referees and all those making crucial decisions in today’s sporting arenas have excellent eye sight.  Thirty years ago frustrated John McEnroe’s “You cannot be serious”, scream at the Wimbledon umpire remains one of the most recognisable sporting quotes of all time.  Thankfully in 2005 the Hawk-Eye line-calling system changed professional tennis for ever.  “I don’t need to go to bed now not knowing whether that serve really was in or out. I looked up. It’s in”, said James Blake at the time.

The professional tennis game is won and lost on the smallest of margins and today television audiences expect Hawk-Eye’s verdict on close line-calling decisions – and they get it.

It does seem remarkable that a football equivalent has not yet been introduced. On the pitch referees need more than 20/20 vision to do their job properly – they literally need eyes in the back of their head together with the instant rewind of televised footage. It seems wrong on many levels that from our sofas we can, for instance, clearly see that Chelsea’s “goal” in the FA Cup semi-finals against Tottenham did not go over the line while at Wembley the Blues were celebrating.

We are living in an era where such “ghost goals” should not be counted and – thanks to the expertise and technologically advanced equipment available at the London Vision Clinic – no sportsman or sportswoman need be hampered by poor eyesight.