By Michael Hutton 

Contact lenses for sport  have become a key weapon for Akaash Bhatia, Southern Area Champion and sixth ranked featherweight boxer in the UK as he seeks to build on an impressive professional record of 15 wins and only one defeat. Having trained with the likes of Olympic medallists and now leading professionals Amir Khan and James DeGale, Akaash is focused on winning the British title but his path to the top was threatened by his short-sightedness which - at -3.50 diopters - was bad enough to threaten his career. Only laser surgery seemed to offer a solution until he learnt about a unique new treatment called Overnight Vision Correction (OVC).

OVC uses special small corrective contact lenses which are custom-designed for each person's eyes but which are only worn while sleeping then removed the following morning. The lenses gently reshape the surface of the eye during the night to correct the person's focusing distance and after removal in the morning the wearer enjoys clear natural vision all day long. For Akaash , this has meant that he can spar and do his full training routines but, most importantly, his vision is 20/20 on fight nights. He points out "I used to walk past my parents on the way to the ring without seeing them but now I can see 100% - it's absolutely brilliant for me."

By comparison, a potential new featherweight rival John Quigley, who is the youngest of three Liverpudlian brothers fighting professionally, chose to undergo laser eye surgery to correct vision which would have prevented him from fighting under British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) rules. Set for his professional debut last September, Quigley failed his medical because of his eyesight. He explains "the Board said I had the second worst eyesight they had ever seen," which led to him deciding to opt for laser surgery. "It was a risk but well worth it because it now means I can box." Had he spoken to Akaash, he might have chosen the OVC contact lenses for sport  instead.

Yet Quigley is not alone amongst professional boxers who have failed to satisfy the BBBC's eyesight test and then opted for laser surgery on the basis that it appears to be the only option to enable them to correct their short-sightedness given that boxers cannot wear contact lenses in the ring. Back in 2008, Jamie Coyle, the Bannockburn-based light middleweight fought for the British title against Ryan Rhodes losing only on points after a bruising encounter. After an impressive amateur career, Jamie looked set to make it as a professional boxer but, like Quigley, he failed the BBBC eyesight test. He then worked as a slaughterman to save enough money to afford laser surgery and finally get his chance in the professional ranks.

Professional boxers - like all top sportsmen and women - need perfect eyesight to perform at their best yet many continue to fight without 100% visual acuity providing they can satisfy the BBBC eyesight test which does not require 20/20 vision. Many other sports participants wear conventional contact lenses or special prescription eyewear for their chosen activity yet run the risk of loss or damage or simply discomfort especially in contact and water sports. It appears that for reasons of cost or nervousness about the procedure, laser surgery is not chosen by many sports participants so it could be that Akaash Bhatia has found a new solution with his special contact lenses for sport  which many other sports participants can now consider.

If you want to try the new contact lenses for sport, check out if you are suitable online .

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