Is good eyesight a big deal in major league baseball?
Ask that question to Atlanta Braves player Dan Uggla. He developed enough astigmatism that it interfered with him seeing the seams of the ball. He started missing breaking balls. His batting average tumbled. He tried contacts. They didn’t work to well. He started feeling the pressure of performing with less than perfect vision. He was beginning to get weeded out of pro baseball because of his eyes
(The readers of See To Play and my blogs already know that 4 out of 10 athletes get weeded out from playing professional ball due to their vision. Dan felt the chink in his vision armor in spring training and was hoping to wait until off season to take care of it. He hit the glass ceiling of vision!)
I’ve worked with professional baseball players for over two decades and I can tell you from experience, Plano – 1.00 x 180 (or any axis for that matter) is the toughest prescription to fit with contacts. I would imagine that Uggla had a very similar prescription (or worse) before his LASIK surgery yesterday.
Astigmatism is a football or cone shape to the front dome of the eye, the cornea. This causes vision to be distorted, and it causes acuity to worsen as the lighting level gets lower (i.e., night time games in poorly lit baseball fields are terrible!)
Athletes who have these smaller amounts of astigmatism will usually see 20/20 during their physicals. The problem with this false sense of security (of normal vision) is that they may actually be able to see 20/15 or 20/10 with a minor prescription. So, they cruise along high school, college and minor league ball only to hit the “vision ceiling” of the show (the major league team)
Glasses for hitting are usually the best answer in this instance.
There are two issues with LASIK
1. He may end up over corrected (or slightly farsighted). This will cause him to pull the ball when he hits.
2. He may end up with less than genetic potential of 20/10 or 20/8. LASIK disrupts the cells of the cornea, which can heal incorrectly. This may cause a slight reduction the acuity he would have achieved with glasses.
But, his vision started messing with his head. He had to do something. Crisis mode. 15 day DL.
The readers of my blog realize that by the time most athletes address their visual issues, it’s too late. 4 out of 10 of you have already been weeded out. You can’t get off the vision porch and run with the big dogs of great eyesight. They have already passed you and lapped you.
Uggla's case also show's you that vision can be ever changing and you need to stay on top of it.
Help me spread the word: Athletes need to SEE TO PLAY!!
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