Keratoconus and sports: tips for athletes

Published on
January 8, 2023

Athletes with keratoconus may face challenges in participating in sports, as their vision may be impaired. However, with proper management and the right protective eyewear, individuals with keratoconus can continue to play sports and lead active lifestyles.

According to the National Eye Institute, it is estimated that keratoconus affects approximately 1 in every 2,000 people in the United States.

Keratoconus is a progressive eye condition in which the normally round cornea becomes thin 

and cone-shaped. This can cause distorted vision and may require the use of special contact lenses or glasses to correct it. Keratoconus is more common in individuals with certain genetic and environmental risk factors, such as a family history of the condition and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Tips for playing sports with keratoconus 

Here are some tips for athletes with keratoconus:

Wear protective eyewear

It is important for all athletes, but especially those with keratoconus, to wear appropriate protective eyewear during sports activities. If you are using specialty contact lenses such as RGP or scleral lenses, make sure to wear protective goggles during contact sports to prevent eye injuries. This can help prevent eye injuries and further vision loss.

Use specialized contact lenses

If you have keratoconus, you may need to use specialized contact lenses to correct your vision. One of the best options for athletes is scleral lenses. These are custom designed hard contact lenses that vault over your eye creating a new optical surface, which leads to a dramatic improvement in vision for athletes with keratoconus. In addition to the improved vision, these medically necessary contact lenses have a distinct advantage for athletes. Due to their extremely large design they don’t move around or fall out during sports, which makes them a great option for athletes.  It is important to discuss your options with our eye doctor and find the best solution for your needs.

Have regular eye exams

It is important for athletes with keratoconus to have regular eye exams to monitor the progression of the condition and ensure that their vision correction is up to date.

Communicate with your coach and teammates

It is important to let your coach and teammates know about your keratoconus and any limitations it may cause. This can help ensure that accommodations are made and that you are able to safely participate in sports activities.

Do any famous athletes have keratoconus? 

There are many professional and amateur athletes that have adapted to living and thriving with keratoconus. 

Defensive tackle Brandon Williams received FDA approved corneal crosslinking in 2018 and played for the Baltimore Ravens until 2021 before moving to the Kansas City Chiefs. Even with Keratoconus he shined on the field, signing a $54 million dollar 5 year contract with the Ravens in 2017.

NBA star Steph Curry is considered one of the all time best basketball stars in the NBA. Among his many achievements, he is an eight-time NBA All-Star and eight-time All-NBA selection, two-time NBA MVP, a four-time NBA championship winner, and NBA Finals MVP. Steph was able to continue as a superstar using customized scleral lens contacts to improve his vision which was impacted by Keratoconus. 

MLB star Tommy Pham is well known as an outspoken ambassador for patients with Keratoconus. He successfully underwent corneal cross linking which stabilized his vision, and has had the most success with rigid gas permeable contact lenses to correct his vision. 

Can keratoconus be cured?

Currently, there is no cure for keratoconus. However, there are several treatment options available to manage the condition and improve vision. These may include the use of specialized contact lenses such as scleral lenses or RGP lenses, non-surgical procedures such as crosslinking, or surgical options such as corneal transplantation. It is important to discuss your treatment options with our eye doctor to determine the best course of action for your specific needs.

Schedule an eye exam for keratoconus near you at American Family Vision Clinic

If you don’t already have a trusted optometrist, you might begin your search online by entering “eye doctor for keratoconus near me”. Alternatively you can visit our specialty contact lens center in  Olympia. Our team of experienced eye doctors and staff are dedicated to providing top-quality care for patients with keratoconus and other eye conditions. Patients with keratoconus visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of medically necessary contact lenses for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

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I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

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Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

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Amy Fagerness
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