Why Pro Athletes And Weekend Warriors Love LASIK And PRK

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 occasions.

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.”

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. Whitman says.

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 (214) 225-2577 to learn more about laser eye surgery at our state-of the-art Dallas eye surgery center.

*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.


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.