Posted by: Joe | December 14, 2006

Nike MaxSight

I was at my optometrist last week for a checkup and to get a new pair of glasses. He’s an avid golfer as well, and something he said reminded me of the new Nike MaxSight sport-tinted contact lenses that I had read about some time ago. It turns out that he has them. I was wondering if they would be applicable to a curling environment, so he gave me a trial pair in exchange for some feedback.

Everybody I told about the contacts had one initial reaction: “um, Nike makes contacts? Whaa?” If that’s what you’re thinking too, you can relax. The lenses have been developed in partnership with Bausch and Lomb, who are among the world leaders in optical technology.

The lenses are daily wear, intended to be used for 30 days. There are two tints available, grey-green and amber, designed to block out specific wavelengths of light for different sports environments. I was trying out the grey-green lenses, which are intended to enhance green and red portions of the visual spectrum, blocking glare and enhancing contour recognition.

After putting them in, I can see immediately how they would benefit golfers. Our curling club has a greenish colored carpet in the lounge, and with the contacts in I could see every wrinkle and imperfection. These contacts would be fantastic for putting–reading greens would be greatly enhanced.

For indoor use, I found the lenses to be highly dependent on the lighting used in the environment. I curled 5 games wearing them, in two different clubs. At my home club, they were less effective than I would have hoped. While there was a slight reduction in the glare and the light reflected off the ice, the improvement was minimal. However, at Mississauga , I found them very effective–the lighting on the playing area is very different. The contacts enhanced areas of high contrast and I could really focus on my target. So, as far as indoor use goes, your mileage may vary.

One interesting surprise–I left the Nike contacts in to drive home after one night game and found that they worked extremely well for night driving. Areas of high contrast were enhanced, and the bright blue-white glare from opposing headlights is removed, without darkening the entire visual scene the way sunglasses would. If I needed to drive at night for any extended period of time, I would definitely look at these.

Verdict: I’ll definitely buy some of these once golf season rolls around, but their usefulness in an indoor environment is limited. I’m not sure that the amber lenses would be any better, but I’d like to give them a try as well. Ideally, I’d love to see another tint of lens specifically tailored for indoors–a contact lens specifically marketed to hockey players would probably be a winner in Canada, and I suspect that it would work well in a curling arena as well.

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