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16 March, 2012

Wearing Eyewear

I am that kooky looking guy you see in the surf wearing sunglasses.

I can’t help it. Years of surf coaching and surfing the tropics has given me pterygiums which according to Wikipedia is ‘Surfer’s Eye, a benign growth of the conjunctiva often caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet-light.’ Yep – that’s me.

The interesting thing is that the growth that occurs on my eye today is the result of glare incurred ten years ago. So that means if I protect my eyes starting today, it will likely worsen for the next ten years before it stabilizes. It catches up with you eventually.

My pterygiums got quite painful for a while but once I started wearing protective eyewear in the surf, they settled right down.

Lots of surfers ask me about the glasses. How do they work? Are they helpful? Are they difficult to surf in?

So in the interests of preserving your health, I thought I’d share a few tips:-

– You can use cheap brand surfing eyewear but they tend to fog easily and water sits on the lens readily. Perhaps if you’re going on a one-week vacation to the tropics, a cheaper pair can get you by.

– Because I spend a lot of time on the water, I’ve invested in the best kind – Oakley Waterjackets. They cost about the same as a deposit on your second home. However the difference is worth it. Less fogging. Less water droplets. Comfortable fit. For me it’s the difference between actually
wearing the things or giving up on them in frustration. They are a quality product.

– Your visibility and wave judgement while surfing in eyewear is definitely reduced. However this improves with practice. A simple solution is to drop them around your neck as you paddle into a wave and put them back on at the end of your ride. This way you are wearing them for 95% of the time (ie: paddling out, sitting, waiting etc…) but enjoying your rides with un-compromised vision.

– Ensure you have a back-up strap that is ideally tied to your rashguard or wetsuit. You won’t lose them when you fall cross-ways or head first. But when you fall downwards, feet first, they can slip over your head, despite the head strap being tight. So ensure you have a secure cord.

– You may wish to wear them just when the surf is extra glary or strong. Depending on where you live, this could be early morning, late afternoon or middle of the day. If the sun is mild or overcast etc… these are the days your eyeballs can go naked.

No I’m not on commission from Oakley…and no I’m not trying to sell the things. I’m just giving you a few tips on how to wear them practically should you be one of those people who gets sore eyes.

You only get one set and the laser operation to remove them apparently is extremely painful.


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