During the 2017 offseason, NFL quarterback Carson Wentz joined a growing
list of professional athletes – and weekend warriors – who
have undergone laser eye surgery. From comfort to convenience to safety
to performance – athletes decide to get LASIK or
PRK (photo refractive keratectomy) for a number of reasons.
They want dependable, hassle-free vision during game play
Athletes who participate in rough and tumble sports like football and weekend
warriors who jog, golf or play tennis frequently face challenges with
glasses and contact lenses. Glasses can break and feel uncomfortable or
sweaty on the face, while contacts can irritate eyes, feel dry, move out
of place or pop out.
According to Key-Whitman Eye Center’s
President and Chief Surgeon Jeffrey Whitman, “LASIK and PRK resolve the comfort, convenience and dependability
issues associated with glasses and contacts. Laser eye surgery also gives
people the option to have good, normal eyesight like their opponents on
the playing field, without glasses and contacts, providing an equivalency
of sorts with other players.”
There is a safety factor, too. “If you’re
playing baseball or basketball and your glasses get broken during a play, you can end up with a serious
eye or facial injury. For people who play contact sports regularly, the
risk of eye injuries should be a serious concern,” Dr. Whitman says.
LASIK and PRK allow athletes to play sports with confidence
One weekend warrior who opted for LASIK surgery at Key-Whitman did so because
contact lens issues “took him out of the game” on multiple
As Dr. Whitman explains, “We had a 42-year-old patient who played
rugby. Players don’t wear padding or helmets, so it’s truly
the ultimate rough and tumble sport. During his adult years of playing,
the patient had to leave games three or four times because he lost a contact
lens. Not only was this a potential safety issue, the patient felt embarrassed
and was upset because he let his team down. That’s when he decided
to get LASIK.”
Athletes like to have options when it comes to vision improving procedures
While LASIK and PRK are equally effective when it comes to vision correction,
the procedures are not identical. “While we use the same laser to
perform surgery in both procedures, with LASIK, we lift a flap in the
cornea, do the laser treatment, then put the flap back in place. Patients
heal more quickly following LASIK and realize their best, corrected vision
sooner than PRK, as well.
“With PRK, we actually remove the surface epithelium with a chemical
treatment, then do the laser treatment. It takes three to four days for
epithelium to grow back over the surface, and the patient’s best,
corrected vision occurs after they heal. If you compare results two to
three months post operatively, vision correction is the same with PRK
or LASIK,” explains Dr. Whitman.
Some athletes are hesitant to get LASIK because they worry that, during
a competitive game, they might get poked in the eye and potentially dislodge
the flap. Says Dr. Whitman, “While the risk of this occurring is
extremely minimal, we leave the decision to get PRK or LASIK up to the
patient. We’ve performed both procedures on professional athletes.”
If you’ve been told you were NOT a candidate for LASIK in the past
– you may be now. Learn more in this recent post: Get Real: 5 Truths About LASIK That May Surprise You
Athletes may be able to perform better after LASIK and PRK
While Dr. Whitman believes athleticism is a combination of God-given talent,
training and conditioning – excellent vision is an entirely different
aspect of the athlete’s ability to perform.
As he explains, “Many people aren’t wearing a glasses and contacts
prescription that matches the prescription they really need. With laser
eye surgery, we can usually give patients better vision, because the correction
is on the tissue of the eye instead of in front of it, as is the case
with glasses and contact lenses.”
One of Dr. Whitman’s professional baseball player patients was able
to hit the ball better after LASIK, because he could see the ball more clearly.
“Many of the
great hitters in baseball are able to see the stitching on the ball and figure out what direction
the ball is turning. Such was the case with this baseball player patient
following LASIK. The surgery allowed him to see the pitch better and hit
better because he could see how the ball was turning. He actually had
one of the best hitting records in baseball a few years back,” Dr.
With CONTOURA® Vision topography guided LASIK, most patients experience BETTER than 20/20 vision
Approved by the FDA more than a year ago, CONTOURA is a new topography
guided treatment technology that eye surgeons use coupled with LASIK surgery
when using the Alcon Allegretto Wave laser.
According to Dr. Whitman, “Some patients have irregularly shaped
corneas – a little steeper to the right, left or underneath. CONTOURA
allows us to personalize the treatment by measuring those uneven areas
and asymmetrically treating the cornea during LASIK. This ultimately makes
the cornea more normalized, which translates into
better best-corrected vision for patients.”
In fact, FDA research revealed that
64.8 percent of patients achieved 20/16 vision or better following treatment with the CONTOURA Vision and LASIK. In addition, 98.4
percent of patients said they’d have the procedure again.*
Want to UP your game with LASIK, PRK and CONTOURA?
If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and want to find out if
LASIK, PRK, CONTOURA or another vision correction procedure is right for
you, let’s talk! We can help you weigh your options.
To schedule a consultation, call
(972) 905-9128 to learn more about laser eye surgery at our state-of the-art
Dallas eye surgery center. If you prefer to connect with us online, please
fill out the handy online appointment form here.
*Analysis of 230 eyes from the FDA T-CAT-001 clinical study for topography-guided
vision correction, 12 months after CONTOURA® Vision surgery. The study
compared uncorrected visual acuity after surgery to visual acuity with
glasses and contacts before surgery.
ABOUT DR. WHITMAN
Jeffrey Whitman, M.D., is a nationally renowned eye surgeon, board certified
by the American Board of Ophthalmology. He has been the President and
Chief Surgeon of Key-Whitman Eye Centers in Dallas since 1996 and is currently
President of the Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society. Dr. Whitman is
a frequent participant in clinical trials and is known as a respected
researcher, innovator and leader in refractive cataract surgery, LASIK
eye surgery and for his extensive experience implanting high-technology
lenses. He is frequently called upon to serve on the boards of local and
national medical associations and organizations. Dr. Whitman and his wife
reside in Dallas and enjoy fitness, playing tennis, snow skiing and traveling.
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