AccuVision interview with Stuart Bithell, Olympic Sailing Champion

Stuart Bithell competed in the London Olympic Games and has been sailing professionally since he was 18. He has 10 years of elite sailing under his belt. Here he explains his motivation for Laser Eye Surgery and how it has changed his life, personally and professionally.

‘Some of the challenges we face in sailing? We are out on the water, we often have to deal with a lot of sunlight and glare, and we mostly race on the sea. We have the effects of saltwater going into our eyes, and hindering our sight. In the British Sailing Team, we develop techniques as to how best to deal with all that. The 470, the boat I race, is a very ‘wet’ boat! You get a lot of spray from the water, and quite a lot of people wear sunglasses but then you get salt crystallising on the lens.

‘For the job I do, which is tactics, you have to be constantly looking around at the wind and the wind shapes. I would avoid wearing sunglasses because of the problem of salt on the lenses, you just can’t see as much.

‘As a team we work to try and overcome these difficulties, with each position on the boat having its own demands and challenges. We had a specialist come and test the British Sailing Team’s eyes, and my feedback was that my eyesight wasn’t a million miles out, but I could have better vision. I’m at the elite level of sailing, and every single bit of help matters when it comes to winning the best medal you can.

‘I chose to have my eyes lasered. It’s something controllable and helps me see the racecourse. The specialist who tested me said my movement around the boat would be easier, which would be subconscious but better. These small gains made it a no-brainer for me.
‘Having had the eye surgery about a month ago, the effects have been brilliant. I now see things from further away, and spot sail numbers which I couldn’t have done before. I would absolutely recommend surgery. My prescription wasn’t that bad, it was an astigmatism, but having done it, it has helped more than just sailing. My golf has come on. Life is more practical and easy now, I don’t have to worry about cleaning my glasses, or finding them for driving.

‘It’s just better!’.

© AccuVision 2016

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