Euan Speirits – Surgeon
Night lenses changed my life | Euan Speirits
Dr Euan Speirits is a Scottish surgeon with a specialist interest in Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine and Biomechanical Research. An Orthopaedic Research Fellow, Registrar and Phd student he is passionate about Sports Medicine with an active role in Strength/ Conditioning training and Athlete Wellbeing. In his spare time, racing under the name “Rossi”, he is an Elite 4X and Downhill Mountain Bike Racer (Scottish Mountain Biking ‘Hero of the Year’ 2017 no less!) and Owner/ Co-Ordinator of #4XWEDNESDAYS charity. On top of that he competed at International Tennis and British Premiere Basketball level. He is currently on secondment in New Zealand to his ‘speiritual’ home (see what we did there) for mountain biking and the great outdoors. An advocate for night lenses, we booked a Zoom call with the world’s busiest man to find out more…
Q: So, Dr Euan – we googled you – amazing doctor – specialist in Orthopaedics, sports medicine and Biomechanical Research – top class mountain biker, handy at tennis and basketball too – anything you can’t do!?! Is it all about living life to the max for you?
A: I’d like to think that people can be good at anything they have a passion for. I’m passionate about a lot of things. Sport and academia have been important to me – I picked up a tennis racquet at the same time as a book. Working my passion and playing my passion has been a big thing all my life. I think people tend to pidgeon hole themselves into what should be doing. There’s an expression that says “the world was invented by someone no smarter than you” – why can’t you do surgery and sport at a good level? So I try and do both to the highest level.
Q: How long have you been wearing night lenses for and how did you get into them?
A: I’ve been wearing them for 3-4 years. I was put onto them by Scott Brown, a fellow MTB who is an optician. I was wearing monthly lenses at the time. The problem with MTB and monthlies is they dry out and when mud hits them it compromises them. I was getting tired of how frequently they dried out and how uncomfortable that was. Daily lenses dried out quicker, so they were no better. At work when I operated on people my eyes were getting very dry in theatre. Scott told me about night lenses, which I’d never heard of, which was odd given my profession and also the amount of sports I did. I had entertained the idea of laser eye surgery, but was worried about the cost and permanence of it, so never thought it merited doing. Night lenses sounded like a pretty good resolution without permanence.
Q: What difference have night lenses made to your sporting life?
A: It has genuinely revolutionised it. It means I can go for a day of competition with zero distraction of dry eye and have a normal life with no need to consider using contacts or wondering whether they will dry out. Recreationally I do a lot of paddleboarding and don’t have to worry about the option of seeing or falling in and losing my contact lens. They have completely normalised life for me.
Q: And are they helpful to your work life too?
A: Very much so. They’ve allowed me to approach things without the need to consider whether my eyes are dry or will dry out. Especially in surgery in a sterile environment for 3-4 hours, with the operating lights, pressure in the room – it’s one less thing to think about. Even if I have a busy overnight and I get them in for a couple of hours, it still keeps my vision at a good enough level not need to wear anything during day. When I’m on shifts it’s not difficult to pop in and out for a couple of hours.
Q: So, have they genuinely been life changing for you?
A: They’ve given me freedom. Genuinely freed me from having to think about contact lenses and considering my vision all the time. Same with not having to carry a set of glasses with me all the time. I have a very outdoorsy lifestyle. I’m often invited to the beach, lakes, ocean – I don‘t have to think about seeing clearly or going in water – I no longer have to make that choice. The only time of day need to consider my eyesight is just before bed and waking up.
Q: Would you ever go back to day lenses?
A: Definitely not. I had one week when I forget them … and it was terrible! I instantly remembered why I hated them – drying out, thinking about how long to have them in, when to give my eyes a rest, protecting my eyes when riding. I was very thankful when I got them back.
Q: To ask the obvious question at the end – would you recommend them to other professional and amateur sports people… and why?
A: I couldn’t recommend them enough. Everyone at some point wearing daytime lenses has had them move in their eye and felt the ‘grate’. The knowledge that you don’t have that in high performance sport is a huge difference. No difference between what you can see and what you interpret. No compromise. Your vision is your own. I’m surprised more people don’t wear them, but that’s mainly because so few people have heard of them yet.
Q. Could night lenses revolutionise sports for glasses and day lens wearers?
A: No ‘could’ about it. They ‘will’ absolutely revolutionise sports, and life, for glasses and day lens wearers who are able to use them. When people ask me about them and understand how they changed my sports life, you can see that they instantly understand how it would benefit them not have contact lenses in or glasses on while they compete. The biggest problem is that they sound ‘too good to be true’ and they are misunderstood. It works by orthokeratology, with is a natural process. Your cornea sheds its outer cells every night anyway. All this does is re-form them harmlessly into the shape of the lens while you sleep so you can see perfectly. One cell thick. Simple! And then it naturally re-forms over 24 hours so you repeat the process. People need to look into it. The bottom line is that my life would not be in the position it would be if I had continue wearing contact lenses. I would never have achieved so much in mountain biking without the freedom that night lenses give me. Full stop. Seriously – check them out!
[Editor’s note – you know when you meet someone really inspriring and they make you feel completely inadequate!?! Man, Euan has lived life to the full… really enjoyed this interview, he’s as cool in real life as he comes across. His thoughts on how the freedom of night lenses have enabled him to achieve more in his sports career are echoed by Catriona Morrison MBE, World Duathlon Champion – CLICK HERE to read what she had to say about how night lenses revolutionised her sports career]