Night lenses are contact lenses you put in when you go to sleep, wake up, pop out for perfect sight – no need for glasses or day lenses during the day, or permanent laser eye surgery. Your eyes are corrected while you sleep by a harmless and non-permanent process called orthokeratology (medically these are a.k.a ‘ortho-k lenses’). Complete freedom with nothing in your eye or on your face all day is a game changer for those in jobs like the police, where dusty loft searches, shift work, violent struggles, CS gas, CBRN equipment etc can be problematic with day lenses or glasses.
We spoke to “John” (anonymous), aged 47, who spent 13 years on the front line with TSG in Northern Ireland. John has recently been fitted with night lenses and they have changed his life. He wishes he had had them earlier, for his work and home life. His observation is that he believes police work is better/safer with night lenses than with day lenses. Below is a transcript of his interview which can be watched HERE.
So you’re 3 months’ in, so tell me, what’s it been like with night lenses? Do you like them? Do you love them? What’s the story?
I want to start by saying I wish I’d known about these years and years ago! When I found about them I couldn’t believe it was something I could get. No optician ever told me about them. Since I’ve had them, you sort of forget you have bad eye sight as there’s no time of the day when you can’t see properly. When I have day lenses in there are times I have to take them out and can’t see. Now at all points of the day I can see. It’s nice not to be aware of them – where with day lenses I was constantly away of them, if I was on my bike, in the rain, with the kids swimming, on the beach – anything like that – I was constantly aware of them and trying to careful that I wouldn’t knock them out or something like that.
Are you feeling free now? Any difference to your life? I know you mentioned going swimming and it was a whole different world?
That’s the biggest change. I’ve been reluctant to go swimming purely because I can’t see properly. It’s very, very annoying. Anyone who needs specs knows what I mean, that you’re not wearing anything. It’s annoying that you can’t see clearly. I’ve been swimming more over the past 3 months that any time in the last 10 years probably. The best way to put it was the first time I put specs on and was amazed at how clear everything, was just the same as when I went into the pool after starting with night lenses and could see everything with my goggles underwater, it was like a whole new world!
What was the role with the police?
Until recently I was in TSG for 13 years in Northern Ireland.
So an active role, what’s the difference looking back? What sort of things were you involved in where day lenses could be a problem and if you had your time again with night lenses, you wouldn’t have?
TSG is a font line role, early and late shifts. Involved in that is public order, riots, saturday night in the city, searching houses, buildings, things like that. One of my aspects was CBRN which is wearing the big suits. One of the big things when searching, which was most of the work, if you were in anywhere dusty or in a loft, especially a loft with felt in, is was very easy to get stuff in your eye, in your contact lenses. You were always aware of it, even wearing the goggles they provide wasn’t enough to keep the grit, dust particles etc out your eye – you wanted to wipe your eye and then you felt a discomfort in your lens. Sometimes, a common thing, was wiping your eye when you were tired and knocking your lens into side of your eye which was awful! For the soft lens I used to wear it was the most awful pain, and when you’re in the middle of operational job, you can’t afford to do that. It happened when I was driving a couple of times at night when I was tired – my eyes got dry, I wiped them and I knocked them out when I was driving – that’s the worst time for it to happen.
What about when times got violent? Did you have any concerns about your day lenses on the job and, looking back now, what would have been the difference had you have had night lenses and had nothing in your eyes at the time?
The peace of mind. I was constantly aware that I had lenses in, even after 25 year of wearing them, I was always aware that I had them in. I was always desperately hoping not to get them knocked out, whether getting punched or even just a scuffle … or even in the rain you worry about them. If I had had these night lenses it would be peace of mind, you just forget that you wear lenses as you have nothing in your eyes. Just that peace of mind when you’re going out.
I know you keep fit and are active. Are you finding that these lenses work for your active lifestyle? Rugby players say they are fantastic for rubbing their face in the dirt, we’ve mentioned swimming, they’re great for watersports – is there a bonus in your personal life?
Yes, since I’ve had night lenses I’ve been out cycling. It’s been wet recently so the first time I went out I got splashed by the guy in front of me in the face and the first thing I thought was ‘I don’t want to get water in my eyes’ because anyone with soft lenses knows its dangerous to get water in your eyes. And then I realised I didn’t have to worry about that anymore – it was such a relief!
You mentioned when we talked before this interview that you were out on your bike and you saw a bird in the sky, a hawk…?
I’ve noticed that my prescription hasn’t changed but my long distance sight seems to have improved. As I told you earlier, I saw a peregrine falcon from miles away with a clarity I’ve not had probably since I was 10!
The idea of this interview in particular is to get it out to advise other police officers and emergency workers – why would you recommend that they consider night lenses?
It just gives you peace of mind that you’re not worrying about a lens being knocked out. You’re not worrying about CS or PAVA or whatever your force uses getting in your eyes, which has happened to me in the past with CS. With the CBRN thing, you’re not allowed to wear soft lenses so you have to have these little vision correction equipment things which are a pain. You don’t worry about being assaulted – in relation to your eye obviously. It’s just a peace of mind and you can just get on with your job better without worrying about it. How people wear specs when they’re in my job, I have no idea. But if you can wear these, they are much much better,
After a while night lens wearers think back and the concept of putting a lens into their eye when they wake up is a weird concept – are you there yet?
Oh yeah. I’d never ever go back to day lensess. It’s a no brainer, it’s better in every way you can think of.
ASK YOUR OPTICIAN ABOUT NIGHT LENSES
Night lenses can only be fitted onto patients with short sight (myopia) <-5.00D. If you’d like to find out more, simply ask your optician about night lenses an they will take you through your options. If you don’t have an optician then click on the ‘Find your nearest fitter’ image below to find your nearest fitter.