Vision is essential to basketball player performance, so naturally, LASIK and other laser vision correction procedures are part of an elite athlete’s arsenal. Just ask Chris Paul as he joins western conference champions Phoenix Suns in the NBA Final. He underwent LASIK in 2016 and went on to lead the league in free throw percentage. Eye-hand coordination is limited by poor vision and, so, the better an athlete can see, the better he or she performs. As the 2020-2021 NBA Finals are underway featuring the Milwaukee Bucks representing the eastern conference and the western conference champions Phoenix Suns, here we take a closer look at the vision demands of basketball players.
Consider the lightning-fast reflexes required of an NBA point guard to coordinate the team’s offense and get the ball where it needs to be to score. For the shooting guard, the margin of error is determined by his ability to get a 9 ½ inch diameter ball into the 18-inch diameter of the hoop. Superior ball-handling skills rely heavily on vision for the rapid-fire passing to move the ball efficiently down the court under pressure from the shot clock.
Basketball players use their eyes constantly to calculate depth, distance, and rapidly moving players – all requiring quick assessments for risk and reward. Frankly, a player’s eyes are just as important as their hands when it comes to scoring and winning.
The pressure to perform is one of the reasons athletes choose laser vision correction, like LASIK, and in the high-contact situations of elite basketball, eyeglasses aren’t up to the job. Glasses, and even goggles, can get in the way, limit peripheral vision, and be a potential hazard in any sport.
Chris Paul isn’t the only player to choose LASIK. Back in September, Cleveland Cavalier center Andre Drummond decided to have LASIK eye surgery to correct his vision before heading into the shortened 2020-2021 NBA season, which began in December 2020. So did Tyrese Haliburton. They join Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Henry and, of course, LA Lakers’ superstar LeBron James, both of whom have had laser vision correction in the past to support the excellent vision needed to dominate the court.
While professional athletes may face specific challenges, many amateurs, enthusiasts, and fans complain of similar problems with their prescription lenses while playing sports and being active.
The Athlete LASIK Decision Process is Just Like Ours
Whether an elite athlete or a mere mortal, the process for considering an elective laser vision correction procedure is pretty standard:
- Having a comprehensive eye exam performed by a highly qualified LASIK surgeon
- Determining candidacy, which includes making sure the vision prescription is stable and that the eye is fully mature
- Discussing which laser vision correction procedure is right for them, including the benefits and risks of each, specific to the patient
- Doing some independent research and getting answers from your eye doctor to any questions that arise
It doesn’t matter if you are a seasoned pro, enjoy a weekly pick-up game, or just a fan watching on TV, if you are considering laser vision correction the first step is to make an appointment with an eye doctor.