Tuesday, July 24, 2007

If Steroids are cheating, why isn't LASIK?"

Wait a minute. If the andro that helped [Mark] McGwire hit 70 home runs in 1998 was an unnatural, game-altering enhancement, what about his high-powered contact lenses? "Natural" vision is 20/20. McGwire's custom-designed lenses improved his vision to 20/10, which means he could see at a distance of 20 feet what a person with normal, healthy vision could see at 10 feet. Think what a difference that makes in hitting a fastball. Imagine how many games those lenses altered.

You could confiscate McGwire's lenses, but good luck confiscating [golfer Tiger] Woods' lenses. They've been burned into his head. In the late 1990s, both guys wanted stronger muscles and better eyesight. Woods chose weight training and laser surgery on his eyes. McGwire decided eye surgery was too risky and went for andro instead. McGwire ended up with 70 homers and a rebuke from Congress for promoting risky behavior. Woods, who had lost 16 straight tournaments before his surgery, ended up with 20/15 vision and won seven of his next 10 events.

Since then, scores of pro athletes have had laser eye surgery, known as LASIK (Laser-Assisted In Situ Keratomileusis). Many, like Woods, have upgraded their vision to 20/15 or better. Golfers Scott Hoch, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, and Mike Weir have hit the 20/15 mark. So have baseball players Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Cirillo, Jeff Conine, Jose Cruz Jr., Wally Joyner, Greg Maddux, Mark Redman, and Larry Walker. Amare Stoudemire and Rip Hamilton of the NBA have done it, along with NFL players Troy Aikman, Ray Buchanan, Tiki Barber, Wayne Chrebet, and Danny Kanell. These are just some of the athletes who have disclosed their results in the last five years. Nobody knows how many others have gotten the same result.

The dangers of LASIK are much, much less than the dangers of steroids, but in terms of performance enhancement, Saletan has a point. The article is from 2005, and I'd imagine more athletes are getting LASIK nowadays.


usa approves laser surgery to fix two vision problems

WASHINGTON - US health authorities Thursday approved eye surgery to help people using bifocals eliminate the need for glasses by performing different operations on each eye.

The Food and Drug Administration said the technique would correct nearsightedness in the patient's dominant eye and part of the nearsightedness in the non-dominant eye.

"This allows the patient to use the fully corrected eye for distance vision and the under-corrected eye for seeing close up," the FDA said in a statement.

"After a period of time, the brain adjusts to the difference in perception between the two eyes."

The technique called CustomVue Monovision LASIK and developed by AMO/VISX could be used to avoid the need for glasses or contact lenses for people over 40, many of whom need to correct for nearsightedness or myopia as well as presbyopia, for reading or focusing on close objects. These people currently use separate reading glasses or bifocals.

The new procedure "expands permanent vision correction options for nearsighted adults who also have trouble focusing on objects close-up," said Daniel Schultz, director of FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

"Unlike traditional LASIK, Monovision LASIK may reduce the need for reading glasses in some people over 40." - AFP/fa