Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that relies on accuracy and timing. Strong eyesight is crucial to success in the sport.
Suppose you’re participating in Mixed Martial Arts while having impaired vision could lead to potentially serious injuries. If you have previously dealt with impaired vision, you may be concerned about whether that disqualifies you from participating in the sport.
So can you do MMA with glasses? Here’s the short answer:
You can train and compete in MMA if you need glasses. You’ll need to wear prescription contacts. But in light training with a coach, on pad work, or the heavy bag, you may be able to keep wearing your glasses though it isn’t ideal for safety reasons.
Keep reading to learn more about the solutions available to glasses-wearers like you!
How To Do MMA If You Need Glasses
You can do MMA if you need to wear glasses. You’ll have to wear contacts that fit your prescription for your eyes.
If you have concerns about whether vision issues may impact your MMA career, you can still pursue the sport if your vision isn’t perfect.
While you cannot wear glasses in professional MMA fights, you can wear contacts. You also can get LASIK surgery which could remove the need for contacts.
You can still have a successful career if you have a less-than-perfect vision. For example, Charles Oliveira is a high-level MMA fighter in the UFC who wears glasses outside of the octagon, so don’t give up on your dreams of pursuing MMA glory.
If you choose to compete, you will have to get used to wearing contacts on the night of the fight. You are not permitted to wear glasses during the fight because they are delicate. They could easily break, which would cause potentially severe injuries to both you and your opponent.
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Fighters in MMA competition can (and should) also wear a protective cup with their fight shorts, hand wraps with gloves, and they are also permitted to wear ankle wraps. Anything else isn’t allowed.
I’ve seen some people wear their glasses during light training, like on pad work or on the heavy bag (where you do not have to avoid strikes at you), but it’s still pretty risky to do this, so only do it carefully.
Can You Do MMA With Contacts?
You can do MMA with contacts as wearing contacts allows you to see clearly, which is a significant positive versus not wearing them because your vision is not impaired. This helps you stay competitive in the fight and allows you to perform at your best.
Other benefits of wearing contacts are not having to worry about straining your eyes or squinting to focus.
During an MMA fight, you will get hit in the face. If you take a particularly powerful shot, you may lose one of your contacts, reducing your vision and jeopardizing your chances of winning the fight.
There’s also a chance that a strong punch could damage your contacts or jam them into your eye. This can cause severe swelling, making it impossible to remove the contacts until your eye heals. Wearing soft contact lenses is recommended.
While training for an MMA fight, your eyesight will be tested by the governing body that sanctions the fight. Most states will not sanction a fighter to compete unless they have a 20-40 vision.
You are allowed to wear contacts in professionally sanctioned fights. However, if your opponent knocks a contact lens loose, you will not be able to retrieve it if it falls out. The referee will not stop the fight.
Best Contact Lens Options
So if you’re planning to use contacts to overcome your vision impairment for fighting, then let’s take a look at a few of your options.
Soft contact lenses are recommended for combat sports. The contact lenses are made with silicone hydrogel material. The lenses are generally more comfortable than other types of contact lenses.
Soft contact lenses are convenient because they are easier to replace if something happens, and there isn’t a long adjustment period. Soft contact lenses perfectly fit the shape of eyeballs, so they’ll only fall out on rare occasions.
Disposable Contact Lenses
As an MMA fighter, you should also consider wearing disposable lenses. You can get rid of them after each appearance, so they are suitable for short-term situations, such as fight night.
Disposable contact lenses don’t require any maintenance, as you can remove them at night once you are finished training, and you can put in a fresh set in the morning.
Ortho-K contact lenses are similar to Rigid Gas Permeable ones. These types of lenses will reshape your cornea and improve your vision.
The Ortho-K lenses are designed to help correct your vision while you sleep. You wear the lenses during the night, and they stimulate your eyes while you sleep. You can remove the lenses in the morning.
These types of lenses only work if you wear them regularly. Once you take the lenses out, your eyes will return to their original shape, and then you can wear another set of Ortho-k lenses to fix your eyesight again temporarily.
Ortho-K lenses are seen as somewhat convenient for MMA fighters because you can wear them the night before the fight, remove them in the morning, and then you can head into the fight without thinking about your eyes.
You won’t have to wear contacts during the fight, so you can focus on strategy.
Do MMA Fighters Get LASIK?
Having corrective surgery is another alternative that many MMA fighters choose. Corrective surgery improves your eyesight, so you don’t have to worry about wearing glasses or contacts. LASIK surgery is a popular option for sports athletes.
Generally, LASIK surgery occurs when the surgeon creates a thin flap from the cornea’s outer layer. The flap is peeled back so that the surgeon can work on the tissue around the cornea.
Once the LASIK surgery is complete, the flap is repositioned with the cornea stabilized. There was some risk that the flap may be damaged after surgery; however, there is a minimal chance of that happening during an MMA fight. Enhanced LASIK surgeries provide greater flap protection.
Effective Strategies If Your Vision Is Impaired
If you have impaired vision in a fight, stay close to your opponent. Use body clinch. This helps disrupt your opponent’s rhythm. Use your feet to block their power. You can feel your opponent load up their weight to throw a power punch and get inside before they connect. Practice these techniques during sparring.
Focus on the ground game as this is where vision is limited for both fighters, and the energy output becomes more about the feel and timing of your opponent’s movements. If you stay in the guard position, you can control your opponent. You gain control of their limbs, giving you the advantage.
Make sure that you are aware of the cage at all times.
If your eyesight is hindered, you can still use the ground and pound strategy. In training, practice drills from a little out of your sight range.
Punching paddles can help you develop muscle memory to adapt to changes by your opponent, even if you have poor vision. The repetition is necessary because you can do these drills with your eyes closed and still succeed.
So now you should know if you can do MMA with glasses and some of your options if you have some uncertainty about it. Don’t let it hold you back. One of the great things about learning to fight is that most good coaches will help you adjust around any limitation you might have to keep training and improving.
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Joe Bloom is the lead author and editor of MMA Hive. Joe has been a passionate mixed martial artist in training since 2019, having studied Boxing and Muay Thai at BaliMMA and Soma Fight Club, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with RitualsJJ.