LASIK and Athletes: Benefits of Laser Eye Surgery for Sportsmen

June 22, 2021

Keep your eye on the ball, they say. Can you see it, though? One of the most basic and critical requirements for athletic performance is clear vision. Regardless of the sport, it is crucial for athletes to see what they are doing. Of course, some people are just born with great vision. But even if that’s not you, there are plenty of options to optimize vision and level the playing field, so to speak. Laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, is just one of those possibilities. The benefits of LASIK for athletes are numerous.

Why Glasses Are Bad for Athletes

Glasses are a common mode of vision correction, but they are not ideal for sports. They can get knocked off in contact sports. They can fog up and cloud vision, depending on conditions. They also can’t be worn in the water. Think of triathletes, for example. They have to balance their visual needs for three different sports, one of which is underwater! During the transition between swim, bike, and run, they need to be efficient; they are on the clock. Transition time is precious, and fussing with changing glasses is just not worth it. What if your glasses break during competition or you lose a contact lens? The race is over.

Why Glasses Are Bad for Athletes

LASIK – That’s What You Need

LASIK eliminates the need for prescription glasses, sunglasses, and goggles. It also removes the need for contact lenses, which can be a huge inconvenience with the sweat, dirt, and water that often come with sports. Athletes who have had LASIK can purchase the eyewear they need for performance without having to worry about vision correction. If eyewear breaks during competition, the race carries on.

Sports and Eyesight

Basketball

Athletes who have had LASIK no longer have to worry about glasses being knocked off their face or contact lenses stinging with sweat and clouding up.

Golf

LASIK gives golfers the natural vision they need. Tiger Woods had it done. Enough said?

Baseball

Baseball requires crisp and clear vision, along with optimal depth perception. LASIK can give a player the competitive edge they need.

Football

LASIK and sports such as football, are often thought of as incompatible; however, that is not always the case. Talk to your doctor about the possibility of LASIK. If that’s not an option, Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK) is an alternative surgery with comparable results to LASIK.

LASIK and Contact Sports

Many people don’t think of LASIK and boxing to be compatible either, but again that is not always the case. You’ll have to be especially careful in the initial healing phase with LASIK and extreme sports, but it may still be an option. You can always ask about LASIK vs. PRK for athletes, too.

Benefits of LASIK for Sportsmen

Benefits of LASIK for Sportsmen

The benefits of LASIK for athletes are many, from safety to recovery.

Safety

If you play sports, there is a risk that your glasses could be displaced or broken during a game or practice. If you wear contact lenses, there is always a risk of infection, especially when worn in the water. With LASIK, the risk of trauma and infection is eliminated.

Improved Performance

Glasses do not always provide realistic vision, especially in higher prescriptions. They can cause distortion or changes in magnification. With bifocals or progressive lenses, the difficulties can be even greater; they require special gaze positioning, which can be challenging when playing sports. LASIK provides truer vision, improving depth perception and reaction time, two critically important skills for athletes.

Extreme Environments

With winter sports, LASIK provides an advantage over glasses. Glasses can fog up in extreme weather, which can affect performance and safety in winter sports. Water sports after LASIK are also made easier and safer. By eliminating the use of contact lenses in the water, infection risk is reduced.

Fast Recovery Period

With LASIK, both eyes are corrected on the same day. The recovery period is short and painless, with vision drastically improving within a day or so. This minimal downtime means you can get back to your sport faster.

Tips to Consider Before LASIK

Tips to Consider Before LASIK

Once you’ve decided on LASIK, there are a few key points to consider before proceeding.

Realistic Expectations

Ask your doctor what you can expect from LASIK. If you’ve had previous surgery or your glasses prescription is very high, there may be limits to how much help laser vision correction can offer. It’s better to know all of this upfront in order to gauge expectations accordingly. As with any surgery, there are always risks, such as infection.

Variable Recovery Time

Although most people heal very quickly after LASIK, every individual is different. It’s best to allow for a little extra downtime after surgery in case your recovery takes longer than expected. You can always get back to your game sooner if you’re up to it. In PRK, the recovery takes a little longer than LASIK. Therefore, one eye is done first, then allowed to heal before the second is done. This spacing of the surgeries on each eye allows for optimal recovery.

Side Effects

After LASIK, some people experience dryness, discomfort, and redness of the eyes. If your eyes are already dry, you may benefit from pre-treatment before proceeding with surgery. Also, some people require touch-up surgery to optimize their vision. Others may experience halos, starbursts, and glare. Talk to your doctor about how likely these side effects are in your case.

LASIK Is Not the Only Option

For some people, LASIK is not the best vision correction option. There are alternative procedures, such as PRK, Implantable Collamer Lens, or refractive lens exchange, that may be better suited for certain cases. Ask your doctor what the best option for you is. They will be able to make an individualized recommendation based on your eyes, visual needs, lifestyle, and sport.

Conclusion

The team at Kraff Eye Institute would be delighted to meet with you and discuss your treatment options. Please call us or schedule a LASIK consultation here. It may be all you need to gain that competitive edge in your sport. Check out our patients' testimonials to see how Kraff Eye Institute helps athletes.

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Dr. Colman R. Kraff

Committed to advancing new technologies in the field of ophthalmology, Dr. Colman Kraff helped to pioneer laser vision correction. In February of 1991, as part of a five-site, U.S., FDA clinical trial team, Dr. Kraff successfully performed the first excimer laser procedures in the Chicagoland area using the VISX Excimer Laser.

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