Why LASIK is a Must for Athletes

December 10th, 2018
young women running track

Wearing glasses during sports can be at best irritating and at worst, dangerous. Whether you’re a pro or amateur, you’ll find your game will benefit from LASIK.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a sport that doesn’t require optimal sight. And yet, many players who wear glasses or contacts don’t realize that there is an alternative to missed goals and squinting across the field.

For many of these athletes, LASIK or other vision correction procedures present a game-changing opportunity. Although athletes may need to refrain from contact sports for a limited period, that temporary inconvenience is more than outweighed by the positive results and enhanced performance.

How Glasses and Contacts Hold You Back during Sports

Glasses are rarely the safest option on the court or field. A misplaced elbow or sudden collision can easily snap the frame or break the lens, scratching your face or even damaging your eyes. Even with specially-designed sports glasses, sweat or condensation can become a safety issue, compromising your reaction time.

Contacts initially seem like the answer to issues with glasses. They can offer relative relief, but in practice, sweat and dirt can get trapped beneath the lens and irritate the eye. Contact wearers know that lenses can sometimes shift or blur, especially in windy or dry conditions. This might not matter as much in daily life, but on the field, it can mean a failed play or frustrated teammates. Swimmers, too, may be unable to wear contacts, as the lens will absorb any bacteria in the pool and possibly leading to infection.

LASIK Enhances Performance on the Field

With an increasing number of professional athletes choosing LASIK, you may be wondering if the surgery is right for you. If you’re younger than 18 – or in college with an unstable prescription – you may need to wait until your vision has stayed stable for roughly a year. Your eye doctor will be able to tell you whether you qualify.

Because athletes rely so heavily on sight, the LASIK difference is especially clear. Peripheral vision, formerly limited by glasses, will be suddenly sharper. Balls and pucks, teammates’ faces, the scoreboard, even blades of grass on the field — many patients report that they discover new details to their game. Of course, LASIK can only correct your vision to a certain extent, and can’t provide extra-powerful sight. But overall, the surgery can lead to better performance, with fewer missed plays and faster times, plus an overall more enjoyable sports experience.

For general sports enthusiasts, choosing LASIK is easy, as it has the potential to make athletic endeavors more convenient, fun, and rewarding. But for professional athletes who can’t afford even a few days or weeks off from training, there may be more planning and discussion involved in this decision.

Special Considerations for Athletes

LASIK is a simple procedure that involves a partial cut into the cornea, creating a ‘flap’ of tissue that requires some time to re-heal. Most people hardly notice their recovery time, as they are able to return to work the next day. And many non-contact athletes, like runners, may only need a couple of days before they are able to resume their activities.

However, some patients may have to wait up to several weeks to resume sports that require faster and more strenuous eye movement than typically used in daily life. And while every LASIK patient has to avoid submerging their head in water for two weeks, swimmers should be aware of this limitation on their training.

In addition, contact athletes may require a few weeks before play can resume. Protective eyewear is an option that in some cases allows the player to resume more quickly, but in general, athletes should work with their doctor to ensure adequate recovery time. And while exceedingly rare, in certain cases a strong blow or direct contact may dislodge the cornea. For peace of mind, some athletes may want to talk to their doctor about photorefractive keratectomy, or PRK, a LASIK alternative which involves reshaping the cornea surface directly without creating a flap.

Make the Call

Recovery time is temporary, but the vision benefits offered by LASIK or PRK will stick with you as you play sports for years to come. If you’re ready to up your game, schedule a consultation with ICON Eyecare experts today.