How An Optometrist Can Improve Your Golf Handicap.

I’m often asked by my golfing patients “Can you improve my game?” and I have to be honest – if I had a magic bullet to guarantee I could shave five strokes off every golfer’s game I’d be the richest optometrist on Earth!

However I can certainly offer advice and suggestions that can make golfing easier for people with vision- related issues. Here are a few things that your optometrist can explore with you that may improve your game:

1. Correcting a focusing error

Many people have vision that is not as good as they think. If you are slightly myopic (short-sighted) or you have some astigmatism (oval shaped cornea) then your ability to see the ball clearly, judge distances and line up putts can be drastically affected.

Solutions include: A pair of corrective spectacles or contact lenses – pretty basic and easy!

2. Treating glare issues

Glare can be extremely debilitating to a golfer, given it is an outdoor sport and weather conditions / light levels can vary so much. Appropriate sunglasses are available in a wide variety of tint colours and degrees of darkening. Transitions lenses that self adjust the level of tint in reaction to the level of UV light may be your best option.

A good hat with a wide brim or low peak may give you your optimum level of visual comfort and glare reduction.

Early cataract changes in older golfers can also exacerbate glare problems – this may mean the cataracts need to be removed sooner in a keen golfer (or anyone who has outdoor pursuits).

3. Managing watery eyes

Watering or weeping eyes can make playing golf a nightmare. For many people wind, glare, hot or very cold conditions can lead to epiphora (water eyes). A visit to your optometrist can help determine the underlying cause of the watering. Issues with lids, dry eyes, sensitive eyes and allergies can usually be controlled with appropriate diagnosis and management.

You need to have the right golf clubs for the right shot.  So to it’s important to have the right eye equipment!  It might be glasses, contact lenses or surgery might be the best option. So how do you choose? Which glasses are best for your golf game?

Vision Correction Options

  1. Spectacles

Often golfers have a lot of vision correcting options that they are unaware of.  For example there are distance spectacles, contact lenses, sunglasses, different tinting levels, Multifocals, Bifocals to name a few.  There is also eye drops for dry eyes or allergies and laser surgery or cataract surgery. For golfers it is important to be able to see longer distances as well as seeing the score card close up.  An optometrist can help you explore all the different options and to develop the right solution for your eyes and your game.  

  • Contact Lenses       

Contact lenses  are a great solution to people who play golf. It provides an alternative to wiping your specs every few minutes due to fog or rain, as you make your way around the course. Varied weather does not affect contact lenses – they don’t fog up and rain doesn’t leave spots and streaks in your vision. They also provide full peripheral vision. They are cheap and easy as well as comfortable. A simple and quick trial in your local optometrist may see you converted and your game revolutionised overnight!

  • Refractive surgery

This is not as extreme as it sounds. Laser corrective surgery is very safe and effective. It has been performed in Australia since 1991 and can make you “spectacle free” which can make golf much easier. Famous golfers who have had this surgery are Ian Baker-Finch and Tiger Woods. A laser is used to re-shape the cornea (front surface of the eye) to correct focus errors like myopia and astigmatism.

Another form of refractive surgery is lens replacement. This can be done if you have cataracts (cloudy lens), but also if the lens is clear (clear lens extraction). The surgeon calculates the appropriate artificial intra-ocular lens to implant so you are left with excellent spectacle-free vision.

So, there are many ways your optometrist can help improve your golf game. It is well worth a visit to your local practitioner to discuss the myriad of possibilities available to you that can help you achieve your golfing goals.

By Dr. Ian Clemens – Optometrist and Director at Kosmac & Clemens Optometrists