Most people who wear contact lenses can tell you about a time when one of their contacts has slipped out of place, or they have gotten a piece of dust under their lens. Most of us, however, can’t imagine that happening while upside down, twenty feet in the air, and traveling at 40 miles an hour. Heather McPhie of the U.S. Ski Team has had this happen. “As a mogul skier on the US Ski Team, every competition I compete in is important. Several times I have had my contacts blur while I am part way through my mogul run, or upside down in a backfl ip. This is the main reason I decided to have [LASIK] surgery.”
In the world of professional sports, Heather is certainly not alone. Many athletes are looking to LASIK surgery to improve their game. Vision is critically linked to performance in sports. Professional athletes have a greater need for sharp vision than most, and test their vision under demanding circumstances. The ability to see the spin on a fast ball, or accurately read the slope of the green can make the difference between winning and losing. The ability to see well without worrying about glasses or contacts translates into confi dence and a competitive edge. Besides clarity of vision without worry of eyewear mishaps, many athletes report better peripheral vision and better depth perception after LASIK surgery.
When LASIK was first approved nearly fourteen years ago, many athletes understood what a benefit good vision without glasses or contact lenses could be, but few were willing to jump on board and risk a multi-million-dollar contract for the possibility of better vision. However, recent improvements to LASIK surgery, such as safer blade-free IntraLase and wavefront-optimized treatments, have resulted in superior safety and better results than ever before. Today, LASIK surgery seems to be nearly as commonplace among top athletes as a personal trainer.
Many teams, understanding the importance of sharp vision for their athletes, have created alliances with an eye surgeon or LASIK center with whom they feel they could trust their player’s vision. Several professional sports teams in Utah have recently selected Hoopes Vision as their “official LASIK provider,” giving their athletes a starting point should they be interested in vision correction surgery. The Real Salt Lake, Utah Flash, and Miller Motorsports Park have all selected Hoopes Vision as their official LASIK provider. Over the last several years, Hoopes Vision doctors have corrected vision of many athletes including: former professional basketball players Devin Durrant and Natalie Williams, the Utah Flash Fox, Utah Flash assistant coach Dale Osborne, former professional football player and University of Utah coach Kris Hill, former University of Utah quarterback Lance Rice, Real Salt Lake assistant coach and former MLS player Robin Fraser, U.S. Ski Team members Landon Gardner and Heather McPhie, world record speed skater Nate DiPalma, former Chicago White Sox baseball player and all-star Vance Law, professional motorcycle racer Shane Turpin, and professional golfers, Boyd Summerhays, Clay Ogden and Mike Reid.
Of course, one need not be a professional athlete to enjoy the benefi ts of LASIK surgery. “Most of our patients have some form of physical activity in which they are expecting to find more enjoyment without the constraints of glasses or contact lenses. It may be jogging every day, or a weekly game of basketball, or even just waterskiing once or twice a summer,” said Dr. Phillip Hoopes, chief surgeon at Hoopes Vision. “I think a lot of people are expecting LASIK to help them in whatever sport they play regularly, but people are often surprised at the numerous ways LASIK enhances the rest of their life.”
Professional golfer Mike Reid had LASIK surgery expecting it to make things more convenient on the golf course –which it did. But, according to Mike, the way it affected his daily life was just as important. Mike recalls, “You don’t realize how much more full your life is when you can have that pick-up game of basketball, or grab your nine year old and start romping around the house. Just a thousand little things like that have made my life a lot better. Not just more convenient, but more full…more rich. What you don’t expect are all those other moments that come and go quietly and don’t make much notice when they happen, but they all relate back to that decision to get this (LASIK) done and get it done right.”