Recent news on the results of the LASIK procedure that Dan Uggla underwent to treat his astigmatism sound promising. He’s reporting that his vision is 20/15 and he is now busy learning to hit with his new vision.
There are several hurdles he’ll have to clear, but hopefully it won’t take that long.
1. Dryness: The cornea tends to dry out more after LASIK for the first few months. He will have to make sure he uses plenty of artificial tears.
2. The dryness leads to haze or glare in the vision. People will talk about how their vision fluctuates, develops a general haze, and may notice rings or halos around lights at night.
3. Increased light sensitivity: Most people complain of increased light sensitivity for the first couple of months after LASIK and need to wear sunglasses. In Dan’s case, he’ll want to make sure he’s wearing non-polarized lenses so that he can see the spin of the ball better.
4. Changes in visual perception: Looking through eyes with astigmatism distorts the image of the ball. After surgery, he’s seeing a clearer ball but the image size is different. Probably a little bigger. This will cause him to pull the ball more when hitting.
Most people adapt to these new issues after a couple of months. Athletes tend to have a little more hyper-sensitive vision, so we would hope Dan will that adjustment even quicker.
This story is also a great example on how athletes’ vision is not static and can continue to change throughout one’s career. The best time to test and address any visual issues is couple of months before the season starts. Dan started noticing changes with his vision before spring training but decided to wait. His hitting struggled, he hit crisis mode and decided to make this drastic step mid-season.
4 out of 10 athletes won’t make it to the pros because their vision interrupts their athletic success. Dan had the good fortune to have great vision until it changed most recently. Athletes whose vision change several times a year for many years have considerable more trouble fine tuning their eye hand coordination and reaction time.
Another great reason to get your athletes to the eye doctor’s office at an early age and return often.
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!!
This year has been a great year for See To Play!
I’ve been fortunate to be around the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, collegiate and Olympic level. And, although we still have a few more months to go, I believe that I may have already checked the Athlete with the Best Eyesight in 2013. (The ABES award)
His visual acuity was 20/10. (A given in professional sports but less than the perfect vision of 20/8 that I find).
But, his detailed vision zone was a WHOPPING 70 degrees. This means testing revealed that he could distinguish with clarity on object 38 degrees out to the right of his line of sight and 32 degrees to the left. (This type of testing is performed with a vision disc and letters typed from a 36 font Times New Roman word processor and is written about in Chapter 3 of my book, See To Play.)
Those two visual traits combined together put this kid in a visual league of his own.
Let’s compare him to the average athlete’s vision. The average athlete has vision of 20/20 and a detailed vision zone of 12 to the right and 12 to the left.
So, knowing that information, who would you want on your team: the Average or the ABES?
The ABES athlete can come down the court or field in basketball, football and soccer, and see more clearly over 30 degrees to his left or right. The average athlete only sees over 10 degrees to the left or right. The ABES athlete will see more of the opposition, see more of his teammates, where to pass, see more of the play
unfold making it easier to score.
The ABES in baseball sees the ball in the bigger zone, making it appear larger, more in detail and slower.
How can you get better vision? Make sure your vision is corrected to the your genetic best, make sure you are exercising you vision (like the exercises given in See To Play) and make sure you are eating properly (or taking
supplements like Maximum Vision Performance at Cooper Wellness)
As I stated, this year is not over yet. I still may find an athlete with the visual acuity of 20/8 and the
detailed vision zone of 70 degrees. Until then, we have a great candidate leading the
competition to win the 2013 Athlete with the Best Eyesight Award.
Welcome to my blog! I hope this helps you learn a little more about me and also keeps you up to date on my fun world of sports vision.