View Full Version : Contact Lenses vs Glasses

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05-11-2005, 01:13 AM
I'm new to Aikido and was wondering about other people's experiences about the different types of contact lenses and glasses (spectacles). Does anyone use hard lenses and if so have they fallen out on the mat? Do people wear glasses on the mat? Any Aikido opticians out there?
Many thanks,

05-11-2005, 02:08 AM

I've tried everything. Hard lenses, soft, daily disposables and glasses. With lenses, I never had any particular problems except with irimi nage, which seemed remarkably good for whipping out one lense (only happened a few times though).

As for glasses, I purposefully bought expensive 'memory-metal' ones to train in. They were supposed to be very tough - almost indestructible if you believe the hype.

However, after breaking two very expensive pairs of glasses on the mat I got my eyes lasered and haven't looked back since (no pun intended).

05-11-2005, 02:15 AM
Hey Ben!
from my experience, most people have found glasses to be a problem on occasion during rigorous training and ukemi. they fall off and may get stood on. i know a number of people who use contact lenses as its less restrictive on hard training, not too sure about hard lenses though, the soft disposables are probably less dangerous if stood on. Good luck with your training you've really got some awesome teachers up there, really great people, see ya next year when i move up there for university!

05-11-2005, 02:23 AM
Hi Ben -

I started training without glasses, which was fine initially, but after a while got tired because of depth perception problems (I'm near-sighted). I then discovered the joys of racquetball / sports glasses - you can get them at almost eye glass shop - puts a prescription lens (non-glass based, scratch resistant) into thick rubber framing, with a headband to keep them on for more vigorous falls. Took a couple days to get used to them, but I love them - never worry about them falling off, or the frame breaking, or a lens popping out. And they aren't expensive frames either.

Only downside is look dorky, but hey, it's for seeing, so it's worth it!

05-11-2005, 03:29 AM
I've found wearing my glasses while practicing technique is just a non starter. My eyes aren't too bad (short sight, about -3.5), so I generally just take my glasses off and leave them at the side of the mat while I'm practicing techniques, I find being able to see the overall shape of my partner is enough, no need for details.
Lately I've been using daily disposable (soft) contacts for other things, and I've found they're pretty good for aikido. Once or twice a contact has been knocked out and lost, but they're disposable so thats not a problem.


05-11-2005, 03:43 AM
I train in glasses and so do several of my classmates including the shodan-to-be. One student likes to take his off before a particularly intense technique. I've come to feel quite apprehensive when he does this; it's like rolling up your sleeves before plunging into a fight....

The acting Head Instructor wears contacts; I never noticed before tonight, when she got a bit of grit under one of them.

Tried doing without the glasses (I'm very nearsighted) and it's okay for technique but makes following the instructor's demo nearly impossible. Plus, blurry vision makes me feel stupid, and I'm stupid enough already without that. I have springy frames and haven't broken a pair yet, though a screw did come loose (a few hours after training, oddly). But our style is fairly soft.

Mary Kaye

Michael Meister
05-11-2005, 04:14 AM
I'm training with glasses, though I'm considering contact lenses for some time. Training without my glasses is definitely an experience, but even my Uke is no much than a fuzzy white blurr then, following an instructor is just impossible. Except for irimi nage, I didn't have major problems with my glasses sofar.

05-11-2005, 05:13 AM
I don't wear my glasses on the mat, but then my eyesight isn't too bad. I think if you can get away with it, ie see what the instructor is doing well enough, and avoid throwing your partner into walls / other people, then training without eyesight correction is fine. If necessary I ask the instructor to show me the technique again at close quarters so I don't miss anything.

Glasses tend to get broken - one of my friends had a pair that got separated by a well-aimed shomen-uchi. However, she carried on with the technique (Iriminage IIRC) and uke landed on the mat at the same time as the two halves of her specs :)

Contact lenses are safer, but the soft kind arther than the hard kind, which will hurt of you accidentally get hit in the eye!


Karen Wolek
05-11-2005, 05:53 AM
I am extremely near-sighted (20/700). When I started aikido, I wore glasses. I couldn't take them off because my sight is so bad, so they'd get knocked around. Also, I'd end up turning my head a lot to protect them from getting hit. Not a good thing. So, about three months into training, I got disposable soft contact lenses. They are awesome! I wear them all the time now, not just in class. 2 1/2 years later, I have never had any problems with them at all...and I study a fairly "hard" style.

05-11-2005, 06:00 AM
I've worn disposable contacts with no problems for over 5 years. Good luck.

05-11-2005, 06:04 AM
I wear glasses. When I first started they used to fly off all the time...it is now a rare occurence.

Thinking about getting some of these PERFORMANCE ENHANCING CONTACTS (http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/3559064?GT1=6444) though :D


05-11-2005, 08:40 AM
I still wear glassses they never use to fall off! Now however they've started every now and again to fly off during randori. I generally take them off when we do a technique requiring a head pin. I think they just need some tigthening.

Larry Feldman
05-11-2005, 08:55 AM
I'm with Tim, the goggles come with a lifetime guarantee, and manage to protect your eyes. Not expensive either.

Jeremy Young
05-11-2005, 09:04 AM
just a a quick note:
I wear glasses during trainging and as Bronson-sensei said when i started they were always falling off. Even the glasses i use now are not the same pair as i started with. Now they almost never come off, which is really a surprise to most people. As i got more of a feel for the training, i have started just taking them off ( and i have VERY bad vision). My thinking was that if i were in a real confrontation they would probably come off at some point in the fight anyways so maybe i could get to go learn the techniques without relying on perfect vision. (this is just an idea of mine, and should not be taken as advice!) I have noticed people sometimes lose their contacts while taking ukemi. And while i have never tried wearing the goggles, my instructor has recommended it several times and it may be a good idea. Anyways, just some scattered thoughts.

Rupert Atkinson
05-11-2005, 09:12 AM
I wore contacts for my frst 14 years of training with no problems. Korea, however, is just too dusty so I switched to glasses and must have had them bent a zillion times over the last ten years. Recently, I got some trendy-bendy glasses (a friend who got lasered gave them me) - they just bend right back even if bent double and they rarely come off as the ends curl back around my ears. They are perfect.

05-11-2005, 11:15 AM
My thinking was that if i were in a real confrontation they would probably come off at some point in the fight anyways so maybe i could get to go learn the techniques without relying on perfect vision. (this is just an idea of mine, and should not be taken as advice!)

Amen! I kept waiting for someone to say this... a bump in the face and your glasses are gone in a real altercation. Also taking a punch in the eyes with glasses on will not be fun. I wear glasses during the day but take them off to train. I have told myself that if I have time I will take off my glasses in a fight.

05-11-2005, 11:25 AM
wishing I could get laser surgery...Sadly, It doesn't work for stigmatisms (sp?). I must wear my glasses because if I don't my eyes will get worse and worse (but then, whose won't?). It's hard to roll in them at first, but after a while you get used to it. Our uchi-deshi got contacts and a few days ago, during rondori one got kocked out. He also hit his head on the mat (a very dense part of the mat) and can't remember the contact flying out...I'm worried about that...

Pauliina Lievonen
05-11-2005, 11:26 AM
I trained with glasses for the first 5 years or so but in the last year I'm almost completely switched to training without. I guess intensity has just gone up a bit and it feels safer not to wear them.

It felt scary at first to not see completely clearly (to read without glasses I have to hold a book a palm-width away, that's how short-sighted I am) but after a while I started to pay more attention to what I could see and discovered that it was quite a lot actually! Only problem is if sensei demonstrates an intricate wrist lock or something like that. Nowadays I find training without perfect vision is no big deal really. It even feels relaxing for my eyes.


05-11-2005, 01:06 PM
I wear glasses during trainging and as Bronson-sensei said when i started they were always falling off.

Hey Jeremy...Bronson will do just fine :D

I take them off for randori and since Seidokan doesn't have any "official" head control techniques we don't do them very often. I've learned to kind of ukemi around my glasses...turning my head slightly and what not to avoid having them smashed into my face.

When I as fencing the glasses I had would touch my fencing mask, drove me crazy. Not to mention they would fog up and I couldn't see anyway. I started fencing without them and I learned a lot about not focusing on the opponents weapon (because I couldn't). I had to base my attack/defense on the large body movements of shouder, arm, and center. Seemed to work ok.


05-11-2005, 01:13 PM
I take my glasses off if I am going to do a technique which interferes with them. Otherwise I leave them on so I can see what Shihan is actually doing when hes showing us something and then take them off again for the particular technique. Yeah its a pain. I also perform techniques with my eyes closed on occasion, and sometimes I find it easier to do techniques without site. Just make sure there is nobody around that you are going to throw anyone onto.

Michael Hackett
05-11-2005, 04:25 PM
I have "old guy's eyes" and need reading glasses. I can count the feathers on an eagle's tail from two miles away, but couldn't tell you if it was a duck or an eagle sitting on my chest without reading lens. I started wearing one soft contact for close work and train with it in routinely without problem.

On the issue of losing your glasses in a fight....my first training officer was a huge guy; 6-5 and 275. He wore clear lens glasses on duty and would remove them when things started to get testy. It was a non-verbal suggestion that he was ready to fight if necessary, but would still give the other guy a graceful out. I just had to get a pair myself and it worked wonderfully to keep things from getting real western.

Janet Rosen
05-11-2005, 04:33 PM
I started wearing glasses at age 4 and so considered it "normal"--never considered alternatives--until almost 40 yrs later when I was several months into aikido training and as my rolls got bigger, my glasses would go one way and me another! Another student recommended contacts and I love them. I use the soft ones that you take out every night and can use for 14 days (less in allergy season...).

05-12-2005, 02:32 AM
Thanks for all the replies. I have been using soft contact lenses, but with my eyes the best option is hard lenses. Apparently these are more likely to fly out, I just wondered what other people had found.
Anyway, time to go and train :)

05-12-2005, 03:10 AM
wishing I could get laser surgery...Sadly, It doesn't work for stigmatisms (sp?).

How bad is your astigmatism? I had a very mild astigmatism (about -0.25 diopters) and the laser surgery took care of it.


Jeremy Young
05-12-2005, 07:58 AM

Do you know if that surgery works for near-sighted people. Like VERY near-sighted people?

05-12-2005, 11:03 AM
How bad is your astigmatism? I had a very mild astigmatism (about -0.25 diopters) and the laser surgery took care of it.

I have to check. Is laser surgery expensive?

Michael Meister
05-12-2005, 03:43 PM

Do you know if that surgery works for near-sighted people. Like VERY near-sighted people?

As far as I know, the best chances are at 3-5 diopters, but this information is at least 3 years old, so it might be a bit out of date. Basically the cornea is thinned out, so there is a limit at the very near-sighted site.
As for the price, I heard numbers around 6000-10000 here in Germany, but I don't know if that is correct.

Ed Stansfield
05-12-2005, 04:09 PM
. . . but with my eyes the best option is hard lenses. Apparently these are more likely to fly out . . .

I used to wear hard lenses and I don't think I ever had one come out on the mat (plenty of other places though; swimming pools, buses, roman bath museums . . .) but I did start to have lots of problems with getting dust in my eyes.

I've got daily disposable lenses now and they're fantastic; no cleaning, more comfortable and a bigger lens so I have fewer problems with dust.

Opticians have always been keen to tell me that a hard lens is the best option for me but my sight was actually better with the disposables. They're definately right for me.



05-12-2005, 05:04 PM

Do you know if that surgery works for near-sighted people. Like VERY near-sighted people?

YES -- my wife was legally blind without her glasses, prior to LASIK ---- now she has 20/20 in both eyes, and sees better than I do!

(I'm slightly nearsighted - contacts help, but I'm fully-functional without them during seminars, if I'm in the first few rows for the demos)

05-12-2005, 05:31 PM
One of my coworkers was extremely near-sighted until she got her eyes lasered in January. She's 20/20 now.

When I started aikido I wore glasses and when they weren't coming off my face the edges of the lens was scratching my cheek. Then I started wearing soft contacts. I've had the contacts for ten years and never lost one on the mat. They've come out while sitting in class, cooking, cleaning, working (I just love it when I'm all gloved up, got a test tube in one hand and a pipet in the other and one of my lenses pops out), snowboarding, drving, biking, and climbing but never while training. Just watch, I'll lose a lens in class tonight...

My brother, for a variety of reasons, doesn't wear contacts. He takes his glasses off if he thinks he'll lose them. He had the memory metal frames, and maybe he still does, but he takes his glasses off anyways. A lot of people in our dojo seem to have good luck with that approach.

In Shotokan karate we weren't allowed to have any metal on any part of our bodies in the sparring ring. So the extremely near-sighted who didn't wear contacts learned how to fight blind. Good training for a street confrontation, but it made life tough for some people in competitions. Then again, since we were allowed to punch (but no open hand strikes or gouges) to the head it probably saved a lot of people their glasses.

Jeremy Young
05-13-2005, 10:45 AM
Arigatougozaimasu! That was what i was hoping to hear!! I was told as a child that i am legally blind at a distance. I think it was 20/200 the last i remember. I may really need to go and see about this then! Thanks again!

05-14-2005, 10:19 AM
i have glasses and i just remove them when i train..... I dont have bad nearsightedness (big word huh?)
:ai: :ki: :do:

Red Beetle
06-02-2005, 12:26 AM
I am not practicing a lot of Aikido right now, but I have pretty bad vision.
I do a lot of randori in Judo and Jiu-jitsu right now, and it doesn't really matter that much that I don't have glasses on...or contact lenses.

Not being able to see the guy that well kind of depersonalizes him in a way. And, as some of you may know, depersonalizing your opponent makes it easier for us to hurt him! :D

Just kidding.

Don't wear your glasses.
If you really were to see how large the guy is who is about to swing at you, then you will certainly wish that you had left them off.

That line about how you never saw it coming is over-rated.

Red Beetle


06-02-2005, 01:17 AM
I just switched to one day contacts for Aikido training. Just got tired of taking the glasses on and off between watching the teacher and doing the practice. Should have done this long ago.

In situations where there is little instruction I don't need to wear either.

06-02-2005, 09:47 AM
I do not wear either so my opinion may be invalid but from observance, I would wear glasses with a strap if glasses is your thing since alot of practice sessions in your local dojo are not too vigorous, or perhaps they are. If they are, wear contact lenses. In the cases you cisit a seminar, you may not want to wear either.

I vividly remember Toyoda-shihan slapping the glasses off his uke on several occassions and they would go flying across the dojo. With a slap like that, even your contact may lose its position. Just a thought.

06-02-2005, 05:43 PM
I do a lot of randori in Judo and Jiu-jitsu right now, and it doesn't really matter that much that I don't have glasses on...or contact lenses.
Its a little different in judo randori though, you maintain a grip throughout and you're too close really to see much anyway. I used to find my randori would improve sometimes if I shut my eyes and went by feel alone - if you've never tried it, give it a go, you might surprise yourself how much information isn't coming in through your eyes anyway.


06-02-2005, 07:50 PM
I prefer to train with contacts, but when I first started wearing them I kept getting dust in my eyes. This meant taking out the contacts, cleaning them, and putting them back in. It turned out that I was blowing the dust into my eyes when I was on the ground in a pin and I tapped out. The only solution I've found is to close my eyes when I tap.

- Mike

06-02-2005, 08:01 PM
Or clean the dojo - yuck.

06-03-2005, 03:28 AM
Or clean the dojo - yuck.

:D We sweep before every class, so I'm not sure where it comes from. A lot of other groups use the room (it's a university club) and I know some of them, at least, don't clean it.

I should also add that I have really sensitive eyes so it doesn't take much for my eyes to get irritated.

- Mike

Jonathan Punt
06-03-2005, 10:47 AM
At first I didnt wear my glasses and spent the lesson squiting to see what was going on.

The I used to wear my glasses on the mat, but got fed up with them flying off during iriminage.

Now I wear daily disposable contact lenses which I put in just before I get on the mat.

My dojo is very dusty, but I rarley find any problems of dust irritation in my eye. I have found these to be the best way for me to practice.

02-16-2007, 02:19 AM
i am a newby and after i read this thread decided to use daily disposable contact lenses.. seems users of them are happy generally

thank you very much all for information

Leslie Parks
02-16-2007, 11:09 AM
I've been practicing for 14 years as one of the "blind as a bat" club without glasses or contacts. I do generally wear contact lenses, rigid gas permeable. I have signicant astigmatism, but just shy of where Toric's would work. I get great vision with my gas perms, but they have flown out a few times, or gotten dust in them (OUCH). But overall, I prefer to practice with them in.
When rolling with glasses on, my whole world bobbles and my peripheral vision is not as good as with contacts. I can't see a thing of what is demonstrated without. I did try regular soft lenses without the astigmatism correction for a few weeks and dumped that after a weapons classes. Lack of astigmatism correction can impact your depth perception and when you are working with weapons, really, NOT a good to have to deal with that.

02-16-2007, 12:27 PM
Contacts definitely, and in lieu of that I train near blind instead of wearing glasses. Invariably, when I would train with glasses on, they would get bent all to heck, or fly off, which made them a danger to anyone who might fall on them.
Of course, training near blind is a challenge, especially when doing weapons, but it does seem to soften up my focus quite a bit! :D
Good luck,


Basia Halliop
02-16-2007, 12:49 PM
Disposable contact lenses. They are perfect and I have no problems. Since I don't wear them for most other things, I can use one 'daily' pair for a few classes and just wash them in between. The few times I've forgotten them and had to train in my glasses it was a pretty big frustration, as I had to keep taking them on and off and rushing to the back ledge where I'd lay them for safekeeping. No way I could see the demo without them, and no way I felt safe doing most techniques with them. I was partly afraid of damaging my glasses (even without major mishaps there's enough twisting to really lower the lifespan), and partly afraid of hurting myself on them (eg having them broken or pushed into my eyes). There are certain things that are OK in glasses, but many many things that aren't.

I have trained with people with glasses and they all always seem to be taking them on and off, but one guy who comes occasionally is dan ranked and apparently still hasn't found it necessary to get contacts, so I guess it can be done.

02-16-2007, 12:51 PM
I've been using sports goggles for a few years, and they work great. My eyes don't really do contacts too well.

02-16-2007, 01:28 PM
I've just learned to deal with being blind. Its not too bad for me though, I can see well enough to know if a punch is about to hit me.

Eddie Heinzelman
02-16-2007, 04:15 PM
I wear soft contacts and have no problems at all through all the breakfalls, etc.
My daughter wears glasses in class and so far she's been ok, but we're going to by her some prescrip sports goggles for class.

02-17-2007, 12:53 AM
I preferred lenses while training, gives you freedom :)
I had a laser surgery about 5 months ago, it costs (intralase) about 600-700 in Istanbul (World eye hospital), and I am happy with the result. As I know, the hospital also has a branch in Amsterdam. There are a lot of foreigners coming to Istanbul for surgery...soft lenses are ok, surgery also :)