Sergeant R is a Sergeant in Birmingham’s City Centre police team. He’s a long term night lens wearer and we thought we’d catch up to chat about how his career with the force has been different since he switched to night lenses – it’s a tale of mud, CS, IMAX and melted glasses frames! It’s meant to be a 60 second interview, but it was so good and useful to police officers, that we kept going ????
Q. How long have you been wearing night lenses?
About 12 years.
Q. What did you used to use before?
Originally, I lived in denial – but slowly had to accept I needed glasses at university. In my twenties, I started using monthly contact lenses.
Q. What difference generally do night lenses make to your job?
I’ve been front-line in one of the most challenging areas in the country and found glasses prone to falling off at the most awkward times. Once, after a knock, my glasses arms had actually deformed from melting due to how hot we were! Contact lenses were better, but also had their own issues. Dry eyes were especially annoying. Losing one, one slipping out of its correct place, just accidentally wiping one out. And the police isn’t the cleanest of jobs. Reinserting one on the fly, in some of the places we end up in? That’s just asking for trouble.
Q. On the job: are there any examples of fights / situations you’ve been in where you’re glad you had no contact lens in your eye?
Usually with the use of PAVA/CS.
Q. Tell us about deploying PAVA/CS – have you done it, or been next to someone doing it, whilst wearing contact lenses? Was there a concern about what it might do to your lenses?
I have and it’s a pretty miserable experience. To me, it seems to prolong and increase the effects of CS. Thankfully, by the time we transitioned to PAVA, I only used night lenses. I used to be able to battle through CS effects, but even now PAVA leaves me feeling very sorry for myself – and I’d imagine that would be much worse if I had contact lenses in.
Q. What situation do you remember (before lenses) where they would have been invaluable?
I remember being on a week-long exercise with the Territorial Army, sleeping in muddy ditches and having limited (read no) access to hygienic facilities. Contact lenses were very difficult to manage. Glasses were an inconvenience. It adds a layer to personal admin which really gets old fast.
Q. Home life: how has it helped to have no glasses or contact lenses in your life?
It’s great. In all honesty, it’s been so long I don’t even own a pair of glasses anymore and haven’t for years. It creates no barriers, swimming, working out, driving, anything at all. It’s as if you have no sight issues at all. Literally, the only inconvenience I’ve ever found is when going on holiday with handheld luggage and having to source appropriate solution at your destination. Even then most airport shops have compatible stuff. Without the lenses, I am above 20:20 vision, but wearing them it is even higher. On occasion, it is even of benefit to wear them, like going to an IMAX cinema. The screen really pops!
Q. What is easier and better in your life now because of night lenses?
As I say, it’s as if you don’t even wear glasses or contacts. Last thing before bed, I pop them in. First thing when I wake, I take them out, give them a wash in solution and that’s it. All told, about 60 seconds of my day is involved. Occasionally, I don’t wear them at all for a day or two, and never particularly note much loss of vision by the time I put them in again.
Q. Have you ever thought of laser eye surgery? Would you go through with it?
I have. In fact I discovered night lenses when I was exploring laser eye surgery options.
Q. Now you use night lenses, does that save you having to have laser surgery?
Never say never, but I simply don’t think it’s worth it. My partner had laser eye surgery and spent several months suffering from dry eye and other inconveniences.
Q. As a night lens wearer, do you find it odd that people put a lens in their eye during the day when they don’t need to! Is the concept of wearing a day lens now a bit weird to you?
I can’t see why people wouldn’t opt for night lenses.
Q. Are you amazed that people still don’t know about night lenses or they think they are some kind of voodoo magic! ????
I do get some looks of disbelief when I tell them about it, especially in my layman way!
Q. In your opinion, is it safer for officers to use night lenses than to wear day lenses or glasses?
Absolutely safer. What I would say as well is that I have six monthly eye appointments to ensure the lenses are correcting appropriately. This is very reassuring, as it ensures that my eyes are being checked regularly for any abnormalities. People go to the dentists every six months, so people should have their eyes checked similarly as well!
Q. Why would you recommend night lenses to other officers?
I’ll turn that around and say, ‘why wouldn’t I’?!?