Game face

Health and wellbeing are on the minds of many as sport takes over our screens this summer

Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

With day-by-day guides released, headlines reminding us of the ‘ones to watch,’ and the Queen’s Baton Relay completing its final leg, it can only mean one thing: the Commonwealth Games are upon us.

Held in Birmingham this year, the Commonwealth Games are set to welcome over 4500 athletes from 72 nations and territories in a celebration of sport.

The hosts of Birmingham 2022 aren’t stopping there, however, with a multi-pronged mission to bring people together, help the region to grow, and catalyse change in local communities.

A core mission of the Games is also to improve health and wellbeing, organisers have said, aiming to “inspire, engage and connect communities and athletes to realise their full potential and live happier, healthier lives.”

Youth programmes have sought to connect young people with the festival of sport, while a Hometown Heroes project has highlighted the champions of grassroots sports across the region, and organisers have also pledged to become the first ever carbon neutral Commonwealth Games.

Even the Queen’s Baton brought together art, science, technology and engineering to make the baton a hive of data for wellbeing and connection, including:

  • A 360-degree camera to record stories and events from Commonwealth communities
  • A heart rate sensor connected with LEDs to glow in time with the heartbeats of Batonbearers
  • Atmospheric sensors to capture air quality data along the relay route, which will be analysed by environmental scientists.

A true holistic picture of health, community, and positive impact.

Behind the scenes, a number of polyclinics, presented by Canon Medical Systems, have been established to provide specialist care for the athletes and members of the Birmingham 2022 community.

The School of Optometry at Aston University loaned equipment to set up the eye health polyclinics, with a number of academic and clinical staff also volunteering to provide emergency eye care.

According to Aston University, data from Glasgow 2014 suggests that demand for the clinics could reach over 500 eye health encounters. Meanwhile, data from previous multi-sport games found that eye clinic services account for 10% of medical interactions. 

Leon Davies, professor of optometry and physiological optics at Aston University, who led the clinic set up and has also been volunteering in the polyclinics, shared that two years of planning and preparation has gone into providing the support for the games. 

Reflecting on how the clinic will support the Birmingham 2022 community, Davies noted that athletes may be from countries or regions where access to eye care is not as widespread as in the UK, meaning the volunteers could see conditions not typically seen in the UK.

“We appreciate some may have travelled long distances so on arrival might need to seek advice regarding a range of eye health issues,” he explained, and when it comes to the Games themselves, there could be a variety of signs and symptoms associated with eye injuries sustained during the sports. 

In the meantime, OT has a raft of fantastic interviews for you to peruse, all putting eye health into the spotlight. This includes a fantastic opportunity to peek inside Central Vision Opticians in North London as one family documents the beginnings of their myopia management journey.

Discussing the options of ortho-k, football-loving Lily told us that her glasses are often at risk of being broken, “so having contact lenses would mean that I can do more things, that I couldn’t do without my glasses.”

It is a brilliant example of how optical interventions can support children in doing the things they love, and especially timely, as we wait with bated breath to see whether the Lionesses bring football home this weekend in the Euros 2022 final

Elsewhere on the site, Oliver Gunning, the youngest para triathlete to compete at the 2021 World Championships in Abu Dhabi, told OT about his congenital glaucoma and the competitive spirit driving his success.

Now, if I’m not mistaken, there’s an opening ceremony to prepare for…