The NFL will hold its first-ever virtual draft this week. One story capturing fan interest and a lot of buzz during the off-season was New Orleans Saints’ (formerly Tampa Bay Buccaneers) QB Jameis Winston’s decision to have LASIK. He joins other prominent NFL players (think Tiki Barber, Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins) and other pro athletes (famously, LeBron James, Wilson Ramos, and Chris Paul) who’ve opted for vision correction surgery to improve their vision.
Vision is integral to the performance of an elite athlete. The better an athlete can see, the better he or she performs. Consider the on-the-job requirements of a professional quarterback: find your wide receiver, throw the ball, and try not to get intercepted – all while the defensive line tries to sack you. In fact, a quarterback’s eyes are constantly calculating depth, distance, and rapidly moving players – all requiring quick assessments for risk and reward. Put simply, a quarterback’s ability to see drives the decisions that lead to either moving the ball down the field for a touchdown or a turnover that can cost the team the lead.
Although the pressure to perform is one of the reasons athletes choose laser vision correction, like LASIK, the reality is eyeglasses can pose a handicap for an athlete. Glasses, and even goggles, can get in the way and be a potential hazard in any sport or leave the athlete susceptible to elements.
Dr. Andrew Holzman, a refractive surgeon in Washington, D.C. who has worked with many professional athletes recently commented he knows several that typically use prescription lenses off the field, but not during a game.
While professional athletes may face specific challenges, many fans have similar problems with their prescription lenses while playing sports and being active.
Pro Athletes Weigh Vision Correction Options Just Like You
Although their lives and lifestyles may be different, we have the same recommendation to celebrities and professional athletes we give to anyone considering an elective vision correction procedure. This includes:
- Having a comprehensive eye exam performed by a highly qualified LASIK surgeon
- a determination of candidacy, which includes making sure the vision prescription is stable and that the eye is fully mature
- a discussion around 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 first-round draft pick, a seasoned pro athlete, or an armchair quarterback shouting at the TV that the ref needs LASIK. Anyone thinking about their vision correction options, the first step is to make an appointment with an eye doctor.