By Dr Angelo Appiotti

Refractive surgery improves your sports performance and safety

By 9 April 2020 April 10th, 2020 No Comments

Having good visual acuity is fundamental for both professional and amateur athletes, since many vision problems may translate into trouble in sports performance.
As a matter of fact, good vision is crucial not only to identify and calculate the distance of objects, but also to maintain good posture and ensure accurate perception of movement.
When it comes to sports, visual acuity, contrast sensitivity and good binocular coordination are paramount to perform more precise and correct movements, and have a big impact on one’s performance, while also reducing the risk of injuries. This happens thanks to the stabiliser and dynamic muscles, which provide greater stability and balance.
However, athletes have limited time to reach their sporting peak and get the recognition they deserve. So it is no coincidence that many of them choose to undergo refractive surgery to correct their vision problems and, consequently, any postural mistakes, considerably improving their sports performance in no time.
During my long career as a refractive surgeon I have treated many professional athletes across a variety of fields, providing customised laser or surgical treatments to improve their overall eyesight, including peripheral awareness, dynamic visual acuity, and eye-hand and eye-foot coordination, which are some of the most important parameters of visual ability.
In sports like football, for instance, dynamic visual acuity is crucial to track the ball, react to sudden movements (e.g. an opponent making a run) and, more generally, see things clearly while in motion.
Peripheral awareness is of paramount importance too, as it allows players to know where their teammates are located on the field, spot a good pass and successfully execute specific game plans.
Thanks to refractive surgery and tailored recovery programmes many footballers were able to achieve extraordinary results.
In the season after his LASIK surgery Marco Borriello, who suffered from high hyperopia, scored 19 goals for Genoa and 15 goals for Milan, compared to his previous average of 2-3 goals, and was selected for the National Football Team.
Despite suffering from severe vision problems in both eyes, former Atalanta’s goalkeeper Andrea Consigli used to play without using any correction aid. After bilateral LASIK surgery, his sports performance improved significantly, so much so that he was bought by Sassuolo and has quickly become one of the best goalkeepers of Serie A.
Last but not least, more recently I have operated on Gabriel Vasconcelos, a goalkeeper who gained more confidence thanks to Relex Smile and has since become a key player for Lecce in Serie A as well as part of the Brazil National Football team.

Skiing is another sports that requires great physical and technical skills as well as high neuromuscular coordination, which helps execute movements properly and compensate for gradient changes.
Skiers must be fast and precise, speeding up or slowing down depending on the terrain, snow and weather conditions.
In order to develop their athletic skills, skiers must first improve their core strength, stability and foot-eye coordination. Achieving perfect vision would enable them to boost their sports performance as the sharper images reaching the cortical area are quickly processed by the brain, resulting in more accurate and efficient physical responses from the skier.
Maintaining the right body posture is of key importance for professional skiers, since their speed or the slope gradient may change in a matter of seconds. As a result, skiers must constantly pay attention to any terrain irregularities, bumps or ruts caused by other skiers, and to the position of poles, bearing in mind that light conditions may also change significantly. Just think that skiers may go from a shady section to a sunny one at a speed of 130 km per hour; this is not to mention overcast, flat-light days, when there is little to no contrast and visibility is significantly reduced.
Many skiers have undergone FemtoLASIK surgery at my clinic in order to boost their visual processing speed and reaction time, thus becoming able to make split-second course corrections and considerably improve their sports performance. In particular, I operated on Christof Innerhofer, who suffered from compound myopic astigmatism and used to ski without any vision aid, and Federica Brignone, who suffered from myopia and astigmatism. The former won silver in men’s downhill and bronze in men’s super combined at Sochi 2014, only 6 months after surgery, while the latter has notched up several victories and was even crowned 2020 World Cup champion.
Good vision is key in maximising sports performance for any athlete, no matter what sports they play. And nowadays achieving perfect vision is possible thanks to refractive surgery.
During my thirty-year career as a surgeon, I have treated all types of athletes. I would like to thank them for trusting me and accepting to share their journey and end results on my website.