LASIK Gains Popularity among Professional Baseball Players

Baseball and Lasik

In a game where a three-inch ball travels at 90mph, reaction time is key, and so is good vision. For this reason, many professional baseball players have turned to LASIK surgery to correct their vision and improve their game.

During LASIK, also called Laser in Situ Keratomileusis, a laser is used to carefully reshape the cornea of the eye. By changing the shape of the cornea, the eye surgeon causes incoming light to focus directly on the retina, rather than in front of or behind it, resulting in improved vision for the patient.

Players from Teams Across the Nation Choose LASIK
One player who has undergone this procedure is Denard Span, center fielder for the Minnesota Twins. In fact, he credits LASIK with getting him out of the minor leagues, where he was stuck for several years!

As a left-handed hitter, good vision in his right eye was essential for Span's batting, but his was only 20/40, meaning that an object 20 feet away would look as blurry to him as an object 40 feet away would look to the average person. Oftentimes, Span wasn't even sure what pitches he was swinging at. After the surgery, he said, "At least now when I walk back to the dugout, I know what pitch I was fooled on. It's helped me in the field, too. It's definitely made a world of difference."

Before undergoing LASIK, Mark Hendrickson of the Florida Marlins had vision so bad that he couldn't see his catcher's signals. He was legally blind in one eye, and had 20/50 vision in the other! After surgery, his vision was 20/15, which he believes doubled his chance to stay in the major leagues.

Other players who have undergone the procedure are Mark Redman of the Colorado Rockies, Greg Maddux of the San Diego Padres, Jarrod Washburn of the Seattle Mariners, Troy Glaus of the St. Louis Cardinals, and Paul Byrd of the Cleveland Indians.

Could LASIK Give an Unfair Edge?
The popularity of LASIK amongst players has not gone unnoticed by some critics, who liken the procedure to steroids, as a form of cheating. How could vision correction be considered cheating? Well, for some patients, the LASIK procedure results in vision that is even better than normal, such as 20/10, where the patient can see an object as clearly at 20 feet as a normal person would see it at 10. For this reason, sometimes players with near-normal vision consider the surgery, however many doctors would advise against going for this sort of "enhancement." Like any surgery, LASIK has risks and potential complications including dry eye, infection, and vision problems.

If you are an athlete who is considering vision correction to improve your game, please visit your eye doctor for additional information, and to discuss the potential risks as well as the benefits.

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