I am short sighted. Not borderline blind mind you, but I do have trouble seeing without my glasses. I am not allowed to drive without them, let´s put it that way. On top of that i have what is called nystagmus. It´s kind of hard to explain (check out the link) but in essence it causes my eyes to move around the place when I am tired, hungry or otherwise low on energy (hangovers were a real pain).
Every now and then I get a student who is also short sighted. Unsurprisingly I get asked how good of an idea it is to go windsurfing with glasses. Usually my answer is divided in one of the following categories.
Personally I don´t wear any visual enhancing aide. My sight is good enough to acknowledge the presence of other windsurfers, kitesurfers, surfers and, most importantly, swimmers around me. I may not be able to recognise the person but I know that they are there. This has led to some fun conversations on the beach where I would tell a friend how awesome the conditions were at the harbour wall of El M’edano only for them to tell me that they were also there… and they had waved at me … and I had waved back. What can I say? If someone waves at me, I think it would be rude not to wave back, even if I am not sure who it is…
So, if you are able to distinguish between a person and water at 50 metres away, I think you can get away with windsurfing without glasses. If you have trouble beyond that you should use one of the following.
The next best solution in my eyes (pun intended) are contact lenses. There is pretty much no restriction on your windsurfing other than that when you go underwater you have to keep your eyes shut or they will fall out. However, this should not be a problem because there is no moment in which you need to open your eyes underwater, not even when you are “trapped” under the sail
The only thing that might be a limiting factor for wearing contact lenses is if the sand is flying. getting sand in your eye while wearing contact lenses is really uncomfortable and can lead to eye injuries. That said, one of my colleagues at the Surf Center has been using daily contact lenses for years and never had a problem.
Wear the glasses with safety cord
My least favourite option is to actually use glasses for windsurfing by tying them fast with a string,cord, rubber band, etc. around the back of the head. It is a good enough solution for a one off but personally i see a few drawbacks to this.
They can fall off
No matter how tight you tie them around the back of your head, there will always be the possibility of them getting knocked off, be it through a knock or by the water when you fall in.
They can break
The worst thing that can happen to you is that they break through a hit by the mast or a collision and that you get injured. Naturally this is not likely if you are not sailing radical but once you go for more advanced manoeuvres it becomes more probable. i have had a few hit to the face over the years which would have broken a pair of glasses had I been wearing them.
The droplet on the lens
Even if you don´t manage to lose or break them, sailing with glasses ends up being exhausting on the eyes because there will always be drops clinging to the glass. It is a bit like watching a video where there is a water droplet on the lens that is distracting from the shot. I teach wearing sunglasses and it is always annoying when some water spray from a wave gets on the glasses.
There are plenty of people windsurfing with sunglasses. Due to their shape, they are less likely to fall off and since they are made of plastic they danger of getting cut is reduced. Sure, the droplet on the lens is still a problem but there are worse things to worry about.
The main downside to this is that getting a pair of sunnies graded can get expensive depending on your level of shortsightedness. For this reason this is only really an option for those planning on windsurfing frequently.
If you have any other solutions or stories related to this I would love to hear them in the comments.