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Vision in Skiing, Snowboarding, and Other Sports: How Eye Surgery Can Benefit Winter Athletes and Olympians

February 8, 2022

The Winter Olympics 2022 are almost here! Athletes worldwide have been training and preparing themselves for the battle of their lives. An athletes’ eyesight is an important weapon in their arsenal. This is especially true in winter sports, where weather conditions are challenging.  

Why Excellent Vision Matters for Winter Athletes and Olympians

Rapid reflexes are important and extremely valuable for winter athletes. This can be directly linked to the quality of the athlete’s vision.

Alpine Skiing

Alpine skiing is a demanding sport that requires healthy eyes and sharp vision. An athlete’s 20/20 vision is a vital factor in their success. At 70 mph and with challenging weather conditions, they need their vision to be sharp.

In alpine skiing, we have the tale of 2 athletes. In both cases, we see why getting LASIK surgery may increase your own chances of maybe one-day winning gold. Lindsay Vonn took home gold in 2010, and she credits LASIK for her success. In the case of Bode Miller, you see how he postponed doing LASIK in 2014 and now regrets that decision. He believes his vision problems contributed to him missing out on gold that year.  

Events dates: Feb. 6-11, Feb. 13, Feb. 15-17, and Feb. 19

Bobsleigh

Bobsleigh, or bobsledding as it is commonly referred to, is a staple of every winter Olympics. The 2022 Beijing Olympics will feature this beloved sporting tradition as hopefuls from around the world race to make the best times. At speeds of 110+ mph, athletes can’t have a bad vision in this sport. An athlete’s vision is directly linked to their success. There is no room for error or poor vision when athletes hurl down an ice track on a gravity-powered sleigh.

Events dates: Feb. 13-15, Feb. 18-20

Biathlon

Biathlon eyes.

All sports require good eyesight, but never has this been truer than in the case of biathlon. This sport has its roots in ancient Scandinavia and is a sport that has gained more and more followers over the years. Biathlon eyes must be on point to hit their target. Combining speed skiing and target shooting, athletes with bad vision are at a significant disadvantage and less likely to take home gold in the 2022 winter Olympics. An athlete’s vision is an invaluable tool in Biathlon, like in all sports.

Events dates: Feb. 5, Feb. 7-8, Feb. 11-13, Feb. 15-16, Feb. 18-19

Cross Country Skiing

Cross country skiing is the endurance event of the Olympics. In Beijing, in the 2022 Winter Olympics, all eyes will be on the cross-country skiers fighting for gold. These athletes will have to use every muscle in their body while fighting the cold, dry winter weather and blinding snow. With LASIK, an athlete’s vision is improved, and they can leave behind their foggy glasses. The blinding effects of the white snow make winter sports a challenge, and good vision can help an athlete compete with ease.

Events dates: Feb. 5-6, Feb. 8, Feb. 10-13, Feb. 16, Feb. 19-20

Curling

Athletes with bad vision may be at a disadvantage when competing in Curling at the upcoming 2022 Beijing winter Olympics. Good vision allows an athlete to see multi-dimensionally. It requires skill to be able to gauge distances correctly and fully use hand-eye coordination to win. However, skill and practice are not enough; curling athletes with LASIK could improve their game and get a competitive edge.

Events dates: Feb. 2-20

Figure Skating

Figure Skating eyes.

Figure skating is an elegant sport that requires a high level of skill. With any sport, good vision is the difference between success and falling. A figure skater’s vision helps guide them throughout their performance, and an athlete’s vision can make or break them in the Olympics. Joannie Rochette, a successful Canadian figure skater, said that LASIK helped on and off the ice and helped her reach 20/20 vision which had always been a dream of hers.

Events dates: Feb. 4, Feb. 6-8, Feb. 10, Feb. 12, Feb. 14-15, Feb. 17-20

Freestyle Skiing and Nordic Combined

Most sports demand a level of accuracy and stamina, and freestyle skiing is no exception. An athlete’s vision is pivotal in this sport because they face many challenges such as the brightness of the snow, the speeds they go, and the need for precision in their performance to get ahead. LASIK and PRK surgeries could be a valuable asset to athletes in all sports. Alexandre Bilodeau, a Canadian gold-medalist, believes that good vision is vital to a skier’s success.  

Events Dates: Feb. 3, Feb. 5-10, Feb. 13-19

Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is a highly demanding sport and requires good peripheral vision. Good vision is monumental to making sure an athlete never misses his target when going for the puck. Hockey is also a very physical and fast-paced sport which makes it a nail-biter in every winter Olympics. Wearing glasses or contact lenses can be challenging, given the intensity of the sport. LASIK and PRK can ease an athlete’s struggle with eyewear on the rink and allow them to focus on their performance.  

Events dates: Feb. 11-12, Feb. 14-20

Skeleton and Luge

Both skeleton and luge require an athlete to lay down on a sled and use their bodies to make the sled turn. Good vision is imperative to do this accurately at high speed. An athlete’s eyesight in these sports can determine a win for the athlete while also preventing a debilitating accident. The helmets used in this sport make eyewear problematic. LASIK and PRK for these athletes could translate to a successful run in the Beijing Winter Olympics. There is a possibility to make use of the Lasik Self-Test from the Local Chicago Eye Surgery Institute right now!

Events dates: Feb. 5-12

Short Track and Speed Skating

Vision skating.

Speed skating is highly competitive! In a rink, athletes must race against the clock, and each other, to win. Good vision enhances an athlete’s reaction time in this fast-paced winter sport. Peripheral vision, paired with good reflexes and skills, make this sport one of the more challenging ones in the winter Olympics. LASIK and PRK for athletes allow for freedom from having to rely on glasses or contact lenses.  

Events dates: Feb. 5-13, Feb. 15-19

Ski Jumping

In ski jumping, an athlete’s vision is a tool. It will guide the jumper and direct their landing while their eyes communicate with the brain in a matter of seconds. On average, ski jumpers stay in the air for 6 seconds, and athletes' vision plays a role here that is so important, their brain has less than 6 seconds to time the perfect jump that will land them a gold.

Events dates: Feb. 5-7, Feb. 11-12, Feb. 14

Snowboard

Snowboarding is a new addition to the winter Olympics family. This sport is fascinating, demanding, and modern. It requires its athletes to wear protective goggles to shield their eyes from incoming snow. It is hard to snowboard while wearing glasses, which can fog up or while wearing contact lenses that can make eyes dry. Many snowboarders opt to get LASIK or PRK done to give them a competitive edge and give them freedom.

Events dates: Feb. 5-12, Feb. 14-15

Conclusion

20/20 vision for athletes is no longer an unattainable dream but a reality for many. In the same vein, as athletes train in their respective sports, many gears up for the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics by improving their game and getting LASIK or PRK surgeries in Kraff Eye Institute. These surgeries help to enhance their performance by making them less reliant on glasses or contact lenses. There is no time to waste, with winter coming, you could also take on the slopes and rinks like an Olympian.

Contact the Kraff Eye Institute today, and you’ll be one step closer to achieving a better vision!

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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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