Lawn bowls are all about judging the distance to the jack and delivering the wood at the required “weight.” Good vision and depth perception would obviously be important elements. In order to have depth perception, you must have binocular vision, also known as stereopsis. Indeed, depth perception is the ability to perceive the world in three dimensions and to judge the distance of objects. The most important aspect of binocular vision is having two eyes; people relying on the vision from only one eye have to rely on other visual cues to gauge depth, and their depth perception is generally less accurate. How do lawn bowlers control their weight (distance to the jack)? I am not a bowler, but my bowling friends tell me, they feel it. They do it exactly the same way that golfers, basketball players, and rugby players do. Natural athletes in any sport automatically gravitate towards automatically using feel to gauge distance and weight. Having said that, comfortable, functional vision on the bowling green is essential. Here is the thing: no single optical correction can ever fulfill all visual functions. What is prescribed for office work is not going to work so well on the bowling green. For the best performance, you need to have your visual correction set up with the visual demands on the bowling green in mind.
In this article, I will identify some of the common eye problems bowlers will encounter on the green and show what can be done to eliminate them.
1. The spectacle of sunglass frames
The way frames are generally designed and fitted for everyday use, do not suit the bowling action of bending forward, combined with an upward gaze. The top rim of the frames invariably gets in the way. The best possible solution to remedy this is to have bowling spectacles. Select frames that provide a field of view in the top part of the spectacles. The best advice when trying out frames is to embark on your bowling action with them on and see for yourself how that works. The anatomical position of one’s nose compared to the position of the ears, as well as the design of the nose bridge of the frames, will determine how the frame rides on the face. For those with an unusually low nose bridge, the better option may be contact lenses. The problem is that the cosmetic appeal and the functionality for bowls are often in conflict. That is why most people need to have specs made up for bowls to get the best result.
2. Contact Lenses
If contact lenses were problematic for you in the past, it is time for a revisit, because great strides have been made with new designs and materials. It is quite feasible to have contact lenses just for bowls. Nowadays, you can get daily disposable lenses, which are thrown away after one wearing session. This eliminates the hassle of cleaning and storing the lenses. The beauty of playing bowls with contact lenses is that you enjoy an unrestricted field of view while delivering a wood. Some may find it difficult to insert and remove the lenses, but it would be quite possible to train your partner to do that for you since this will only be on bowling days. You can even sleep with the contact lenses for one night if circumstances dictate. Wearing dailies just for bowls can be a very affordable option. Moreover, you now have a free choice of over-the-counter sunglasses.
3. Ultraviolet protection
Bowlers are exposed to harmful sun rays for long periods of time. The danger of high energy ultraviolet rays is real, especially in the older age groups and even on overcast days. Always ensure that you are wearing a UV400 protection coating on your sunglasses or on your regular spectacles. Ultraviolet exposure can cause serious eye problems.
4. Seeing far and near
Bowlers find themselves with a unique dilemma as far as functional vision is concerned. There is obviously a clear distance vision requirement, but also the scoreboard situation at an elevated position on the bank, which is not at a normal reading distance. This can easily be overcome by giving your optometrist the measurement of the required reading distance (a photo will also be helpful). For most sports, multifocals or bifocals can be made a lot more comfortable by dropping the reading portion lower, which provides the near vision to read a menu still or see the cell phone. Obviously, this set-up won’t be ideal for the computer or office work.
Just about everybody develops cataracts as they get older. It is part of the normal aging process. The development of cataracts is usually insidious and may be more advanced in one eye than the other. This could easily undermine performance on the bowling green, without one realising it. It is therefore advisable to have at least annual eye check-ups. Several ocular pathologies are asymptomatic, and early diagnosis is vital for a good prognosis.
6. Dry eye disease (DED)
DED is very common in the older age groups and exacerbated by dry, windy conditions one would expect to find on the bowling green. There are several very good over the counter lubricant eye drops to bring relief. In severe cases of DED it, may be advisable to wear wraparound sunglasses to keep the wind out.