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Orienteering vision
By Christo Peters - Thu 3 Nov 2022 12:14am

Good vision is crucial in orienteering, so you want to optimise it to make competing easier. In this article I will go through several ways you can assist your eyes in reading maps more clearly.

Glasses are most people’s go to solution to see, which is great, but they have limitations in orienteering. The lenses can fog up, get wet in the rain and fall off your face if not fitted properly. A well fitted frame or sports specific frame designed for running can make all the difference and anti fog sprays can really help.

If you are presbyopic ie need glasses for reading, then traditional bifocal lenses, the ones with the half-moon segment, can work great as they give you a wide area of reading and distance vision but no intermediate vision. A better option is a progressive lens as they let you see an intermediate distance, about 1 metre, as well as the distance and reading. You can get prescription sports specific frames with a slight wrap/curvature on them to give your eyes more protection.

You should wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV radiation. Some people find certain sunglass tint colours better than others. Grey tints are dark and give true colour rendition, so a red object still looks like red. Brown tints give everything a warmer colour. A rose colour will increase contrast which is great in low light. Often choosing the best tint colour is down to personal preference. Polarised lenses are always an option if you want to reduce glare. In prescription glasses you can get transition or photochromatic lenses which go dark in full sunlight and are clear in low light making them very versatile in changing light conditions. It’s important you see and get accustomed to how the tint you choose affects the colours on your maps.

Contact lenses can often be the best option for orienteering. Daily disposable contacts are very comfortable and are great for occasional use like for sport. Multifocal contact lenses act like progressive glasses to help read with contacts. With these lenses there is often a compromise, where the near vision might be okay, but the distance could be a bit softer in focus.

There is another way to see and read with contact lenses, this is called monovision. Basically, it is making the dominant eye (the one you would keep open if you were shooting a gun) the distance vision eye and the non-dominant eye the reading eye. Most people can see with this, but it takes away your binocularity. This can cause some people to not feel sure footed when running. If you are interested in this contact lens option you need to see an Optometrist and trial it out by going for a training run on a known route to make sure you are okay with judging distances, tree roots etc. One of my patients who is well known in the orienteering community has been using monovision contacts successfully for several years.

If you are night racing or under dark tree cover a really bright headlamp will help a lot for map reading, this is because the eyes need more contrast in low light conditions. Contrast being the difference between white and black, this needs to be made very obvious for the brain and eyes to interpret and read easily, so more light helps.

We are keen on providing orienteers with options to see better and so Gates Eyewear are offering Orienteering NZ members 10% off any sports specific eyewear purchase for a limited time.

by Jeremy Wong   |  Auckland based Optometrist specialising in sports vision  |  jeremy@gateseyewear.co.nz  | Read more about Jeremy here
📷 Image supplied

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