As cycling continues to soar in popularity, safety concerns arise. Due to the lack of awareness of eye safety, eye specialists and professional cyclists are seeing more injuries related to cycling in the community and races.
Cycling is good for stamina and strength, as it aids in aerobic fitness, improving blood circulation, heart health, and muscle toning. Protection of your functioning eye, especially when cycling is very important. At any age, proper eye protection should be worn at all time in avoiding unnecessary risks.
Eye specialists, professional athletes, and coaches, therefore, play an important role in making sure cyclists protect their eyes and properly gear up for sports. Protective eyewear should be part of any uniform because it also plays a significant role in reducing sports-related eye injury.
We caught up with Dr. Miswan Muiz, a consultant ophthalmologist from Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital, as well as Josiah Ng, a retired professional track cyclist, three-time Olympian, and a cycling coach to give us insights into the importance of protecting eyes at cycling.
What is your background?
Dr. Muiz: By profession, I am a consultant ophthalmologist at Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital. My expertise is mainly LASIK. I am also a cyclist, most of the time, a mountain biker. I have been training with Josiah for quite some time now.
Is cycling considered as a high-risk sport?
Dr. Muiz: Cycling is a high-risk sport, especially in the Malaysian environment due to the moving vehicles including big buses and heavy trucks that some of the drivers are oblivious to the cyclists on the road.
Therefore, cyclists need to take as many precautions as they can. Being an eye specialist, my passion is eye safety. Being a mountain biker as well, I have seen several accidents in the trail. A cycling enthusiast would not want to give up a hobby because of injuries.
How can cyclists protect their eyes?
Dr. Muiz: Many people buy spectacles without understanding the functions. If you buy the wrong pair of spectacles, it can be dangerous to your eyes. In general, choosing the appropriate performance sunglasses is important.
What have you been up to recently?
Josiah: I coached the Thailand National Team for the Asian Games 2018, and decided to return to the Malaysian cycling scene. I came back to Malaysia in February.
As a former professional track cyclist, tell us more about eye safety in a velodrome.
Josiah: Track cycling is mostly indoor, so you are in control. When you are going in 60, 70, or 80 kilometers per hour, you get tired, your eyes get dry with tears coming out, sometimes, these factors would affect your vision. When you are riding really fast in a velodrome, you could possibly crash. The performance of your race also depends on the quality of eyewear you use. The benefit of high-quality eyewear is that it is built and designed to suit the specific activity.
Will the lighting in a velodrome affect the vision?
Josiah: Lighting in a velodrome is normally not too bright. However, it sometimes can be bright outdoors because there are other elements, for instance, sunlight. In fact, it is against the law to use tinted eyewear indoors. Eyewear that is used in a velodrome has to be clear, which is based on UCI rules and safety issues.
I have always liked clear, although there are a lot of cyclists who don’t like clear. In a race, there is a lot of psychology. The cyclists do not like being poked and intimidated. I have always liked to use track cycling helmet with mirror visor.
In my opinion, you can use the transition lenses that change according to the lighting.
Dr. Muiz: The transition lenses are very ideal for mountain bikers in Malaysia. Unlike mountain trails in the foreign countries where they are mostly wide open spaces, mountain bikers in Malaysia, most of the time, ride in the jungle where it gets bright in the noon and dark in the evening. I would suggest transition lenses.
What are the common eye injuries in cycling?
Dr. Muiz: There are all kinds of cycling events in Malaysia, such as fun rides and jamborees. Cyclists are often exposed to UV light and diagnosed cataracts. Most of the cyclists, except the professional cyclists, do not know how to protect their eyes. This is when eyewear comes into play.
What is the correct eyewear?
Dr. Muiz: You can find many spectacles that are good enough for a cyclist. For instance, PRIZM is an Oakley lens technology designed to enhance color and contrast so you can see more detail, and increase depth perception and highlight features in the surrounding.
Is protection needed even when the sun is not out?
Dr. Muiz: Some cyclists like to ride in the dark, therefore PRIZM lenses are made to amplify what you’re seeing for a better visual experience. In mountain biking, it is very important to get your gears correct. When you are riding in rocky and steep terrains, the chances of crashing and falling are very high. In addition to protecting your eyes from being hit by rocks, trees, sands, or insects in the trail, you definitely need eyewear or helmet with visor during your ride.
Are fake sunglasses bad for our eyes?
Dr. Muiz: Fake sunglasses are cheap. Buying a cheap brand is more reasonable than buying a fake product. That is my advice. When buying fake sunglasses, you might not know the material or quality of the product. When you crash, the fake sunglasses might break and hurt your eyes.
Most fake sunglasses would not have UVA/UVB protection. Your pupils will naturally dilate when wearing them, making it feel like your eyes are being protected. Additionally, the UV rays will enter your dilated pupils at a much higher rate than if you weren’t wearing any sunglasses causing cataract.
What is the food that is good for the eyes?
Dr. Muiz: Fish oil.
How often should cyclists go for eye test?
Dr. Muiz: Everyone should go for an eye test, at least after 40 years old. In general, young people do not develop age-related eye diseases and conditions. Even though young people usually don’t need to visit the ophthalmologist so often, they also need to take care of their vision and occasionally have their eyes examined.
How to prevent eye injuries?